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Jane Johnson is the Research Training and Development Manager for the Department of Oncology.

In this interview, Jane tells us more about her varied role, provides an insight into the Graduate Studies Office and shares her love of the coast, be it Liverpool or Barbados!

Tell us a little about your role as Research Training and Development Manager

There are two parts to my job, firstly Graduate Studies. It's my job to manage all the processes that attract, admit and support graduate (Masters and DPhil) students in the department, from application to examination. This involves regular liaison with students, supervisors, Directors of Graduate Studies and MSD Graduate School. We have just over 100 full-time students across the 3 sites. I am fortunate that my job gets me out and about and I am gradually getting to know everyone.
Secondly, I am responsible for identifying and co-ordinating training and development initiatives for students and for the Post Doc Community. We recently held our first event for the Post Docs, a careers workshop led by the Careers Service, and we have also reviewed the induction event for new students. With the support of the new Training and Development Committee I am very excited about the renewed focus in the Department on training initiatives.

And why is what you and your team do important?

The Oncology Graduate Studies Office is made up of me and Penny Berry (Graduate Studies Co-ordinator). Most of our work follows an annual cycle led by the University and MSD. During term time in the winter months Penny is very busy supporting the teaching timetable for the one year MSc Radiation Biology. In January each year things get quite fraught as we process, interview and allocate funding for all the new applications for graduate studies within 6 weeks to meet divisional deadlines.
Our work is vital to ensure that the department follows university policy, meets reporting deadlines and thereby maximises the number of students that are awarded funding. This supports the departmental research strategy by providing high quality studentships and post-doctoral opportunities and is underpinned by the department's commitment to provide personal and professional training. This makes the Department a very attractive place to work and study.

What's currently at the top of your to do list?

  • New student inductions: With the new graduate students starting on 1st October I am making sure that everything is in place for them to have a warm welcome here in the department. The first term for students can be an anxious time and I want to make it easy for students to navigate their way. This will be supported by a new research student portal (WebLearn) which is due to go live in the next few days.
  • New part-time online MSc in Cancer Precision Medicine: This new course proposal was approved by the University for development last year. It is in its final stages of drafting and is due to go to MSD Committee for comment in November. The first intake of students is planned for 2020.
  • 2018 Student and Staff Survey: The surveys were collated in the summer and the results are in. I am involved in reviewing the results and taking them forward to agree next steps.
  • Medical School: I am building links with the Medical School to offer special study modules, final honour school projects and increase opportunities for students to engage with the department. This will provide development opportunities for both staff and students.

How did you get to this point in your career?

I joined Oncology in January this year. I have worked in Higher Education for over 10 years and have been at Oxford since 2010. My first post was as Programme Manager for part-time Evidence-Based Health Care programme at Continuing Education where I managed a large number of part-time students. After 4 years I moved to Population Health (next door) as Graduate Studies Manager overseeing their MSc and DPhil programmes. However, my background is in human resources and training management where I worked in training consultancy, publishing and animal welfare – it's quite a mixture but everybody needs access to training. I decided to move to higher education after completing my Masters' degree at Oxford Brookes, became fascinated with the education environment and haven't looked back.

What do you do outside of work to relax, and if you weren't in this role now, what would you like to be doing?

When I'm not working I enjoy being close to nature getting out in the countryside for lots of bracing walks and fresh air. I live near Witney close to the Cotswold hills, so I am never far from some beautiful views. I am originally from the Wirral and really miss the sea air so head to the coast, home and abroad, as often as I can whether it's Liverpool, Cornwall, Dorset or Barbados!
If I wasn't doing this job, I'd love to be a travel writer based in the Caribbean.