John Watkins' Story
Principal Lecturer in Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour and Head of Department for Management and Human Resources.
To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, we’ve been chatting with some of our staff members who have been at Coventry University London from the very beginning. John Watkins joined Coventry University London on 30 March 2010. John is now the Principal Lecturer in Human Resources and Organisational Behaviour and Head of Department for Management and Human Resources.
What was Coventry University London like when you first arrived in 2010?
When I started working with Coventry University London, it was an exhilarating 'start up' experience. We were a small project team in London that grew rapidly the closer we got to opening in October. We worked a lot from home and coffee shops until the building was ready - and even then we had to watch out for the fresh paint on the walls and navigating the builders! I had two roles in those early days. The first was write a series of MBA modules related to leadership, HR and managing your career. The second role was to coordinate with an amazing team of academics who were writing all the other modules. It was also a great learning experience for me about how universities work. As a member of small team, I got to work on lots of other projects like student induction, study skills and working with the Library and Careers Team. It was definitely teamwork at its best!
How have things changed over the past 10 years?
So much has changed – where do I begin? The buildings, the colour schemes, the courses, the academics and the students. I think what has stayed the same is the focus on our students’ success and being there to help them achieve their goals. What makes Coventry University London so unique is the combination of the positive can-do attitude, openness to feedback and responding to feedback, and knowing that there’s a great team always there to support you. That hasn’t changed over the last 10 years. For me, that makes Coventry University London a great place to work.
What has the London location contributed to your experience of working here?
You can’t beat that feeling of walking out of Liverpool Street Station in the morning and being in the heart of one of the most important financial and cultural centres in the world. Our location also means that there are so many opportunities to meet inspiring people and see global business in action first hand.
Can you share a standout moment, something that has made you proud to work here?
Graduation is always one of my favourite and proudest days in the year to celebrate the amazing achievements of our students. If I have to pick a specific moment… one of my proudest moments happened this year and it was a wonderful surprise. An alumni from one of our very first cohorts came back to the UK and came to visit me on campus. He said he wanted to share with me his success story in person. He had been inspired to take everything he had learned from his MBA experience and set up his own school back in his home country. He told me that throughout his career, and leading his team, he would ask himself ‘what would John do in this situation.’ That really inspired me to realise that as academics we could touch the lives of students who go on to touch the lives of people around the world.
What do you hope for the future of Coventry University London?
For me that’s easy. More opportunities to connect with all of our community – from our alumni to the future students who aspire to study with us.
How will you be celebrating Coventry University London’s 10-year anniversary?
I’m looking forward to sharing stories - celebrating the achievements of our students and the careers of our colleagues as well. And I will admit it, I will shed a tear or two for happiness!