In the latest instalment of our Staff Profile series, we spoke to Dawn Tharpe about her role as a Section Manager and her top tips for working remotely.
Introduce yourself – who are you and what do you do?
My name is Dawn Tharpe and I am Section Manager for the Division of Neurology in the Department of Brain Sciences.
When did you join the College, and where were you working before this?
I joined the College in September 2006 as a Personal Assistant to the Head of Department of Immunology. Before working in the College, I spent 18 years as a civil servant in the Department of Health and Social Security (now the Department of Health), and then the Department for Education in various roles. Initially working in Services for Blind and Deaf People, I moved over to Social Services Inspectorate as a PA where the work was solely on developing child protection guidance and procedures. This Section then transferred to the Division of Child Services in the Department for Education, where I remained as a PA working on the dissemination through multiple conferences of these new of government guidelines on child protection safeguarding guidelines and procedures.
What is one thing that you’re excited to be working on right now? And, in general, what’s the most interesting part of your role?
My role is very varied, hectic, but enjoyable, so there is no one single thing that I am working on now that could be classed as exciting, but it is all definitely interesting. I do have one PI who refers to some of his grant proposals as being my favourite ”subject” and these are the more interesting and complex ones! When I meet with new academics to discuss their grant proposals, I am keen to understand the research behind the applications as I am naturally inquisitive.
What are your biggest passions/hobbies outside of work?
To relax I enjoy reading sci-fi, fantasy and saga novels. I have also recently discovered Korean period dramas on Netflix, which are very addictive, have well-written, complex storylines and are immensely enjoyable to watch. Another passion which may not be classed as relaxing to most is making specialised decorated cakes. Whether they are for birthdays, christenings and baby showers, my friends, family and close colleagues, they can take hours to decorate, but this is the only time I feel really creative. Although it’s exhausting work, I feel a great sense of pride and achievement for each one I do.
Top tips for working remotely?
I suggest trying to keep to normal working hours as much as possible and take little breaks (to make a cup of tea etc.). When I used to work from home occasionally, I would always start very early around 7:00 and then finish around 19:00 to squeeze as much work into my very quiet day as possible. However, because of these exceptional times, I now make sure that I start by 8:30 and finish by 17:00 as much as possible to mimic my usual working day. Also, it’s important to ensure you take a lunch break.