#ThisBUCSGirlCan – Interview with Chief Operating Officer, Niamh Lamond
As part of #ThisBUCSGirlCan week, UUSU Sport spoke to successful female graduates and staff members at Ulster University to determine how they have become a leader in their field, and the role sport and physical activity plays in their life. Our first interview is with Ulster University’s newly appointed Chief Operating Officer Niamh Lamond.
- Please tell us a little about the position you hold now?
I am the Chief Operating Officer of Ulster University for the last 3 months, so a new arrival at Ulster University and in fact Northern Ireland. The COO is responsible for ensuring the overall operations of the university work well to support all academic activities.
- Please provide me with some background on how you have come to be in this role or reach this level?
I am fortunate to have such an amazing job for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had the academic and professional qualifications, that is, an honours degree in Engineering from UCD and a few years later I also qualified as a chartered management account. Without these qualifications I would not have either the confidence or the understanding to take on my responsibilities.
However, there were other pre-requisites; I had to have broad experience of how universities can be globally competitive so I would know how best to lead Ulster University’s professional teams to support the university’s new exciting and ambitious strategy. This experience was gained over many years working for different universities in SW England. So sometimes it is necessary to travel to get the experience needed.
To do my job well also demands a deep sense of purpose and passion in how universities advance life opportunities and society more generally. I have that motivation. It is well rooted/anchored.
- How has sport and physical activity impacted your life?
Sport is part of what defines me. From the age of 9, I learnt how to play tennis in my local club in Dublin and started competing on a national level when I was eleven.
Winning and losing, training and practicing hard, traveling independently at a young age around the country, meeting other youngsters from very different backgrounds and enjoying the exhilaration of competition were all features of my sporting teenage and university years – this experience gave me the confidence to take on many work challenges later on.
I met my husband and most of my closest friends through sport so what more needs to be said! I get withdrawal systems when I don’t play some sport competitively. Most recently I have turned to golf so Northern Ireland is the perfect place in many ways for me. If only I had enough time!
- Who inspired you to aspire for a leadership role in your field?
It gradually became a natural aspiration having had roles such as Director of Finance and Resources and a CEO role in the university sector. Whether it was one person is debatable. I would say I was self-driven but helped by a number of close colleagues, mainly other women, and my husband who encouraged me and believed in me.
- What is the best piece of advice you have received?
To believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself no one else will.
- Define a leader: What are some traits you think great leaders possess?
The ability to inspire and set direction and staff expectations of performance; understand human nature and motivations (emotional intelligence); and to weather the storms through calm and judicious decision-making.
- What is one leadership lesson you have learnt during your career?
Whenever you have had a terrible day, remember tomorrow is a new day and an opportunity to recover, learn and move on.
- What advice do you have for female students aiming for positions of leadership?
Women can do anything men can do and indeed can bring distinctive qualities to business and the work environment. My advice is ‘be confident and be yourself’.