Staff profile: Mike Wojcik
Describe your average day
My day is fantastically varied and stimulating and there is no average day. I fear becoming too institutionalised in my approach, but thankfully my role allows me to be creative. I work in a number of areas including financial and resource management, governance and compliance, supporting the elected students, and operational planning and delivery. I am responsible for the day to day management of the Students’ Union services, people management, strategic projects and innovation, business development and so much more. There is a fascinating blend of stuff going on within the Student’s Union. We run a number of cross-campus cafés, shops and venues, the University’s sport offer, including Qmotion fitness centre, student voice, student community volunteering, academic advocacy and much more.
Public engagement is another aspect of my role which I enjoy. An example of this is the Social Cohesion project, a community sport project where Queen Mary students are given the skills to be able to run projects in the community. The project provided a platform for student groups to design and deliver their own projects that used sport and physical activity as a vehicle to raise awareness of issues in the local community such as obesity, inactivity and gang culture. For instance, last year students ran a successful women’s tag-rugby within Tower Hamlets. They are role models from university and being involved locally in making a difference.
Do you work closely with any particular colleagues or teams?
I work really closely with the SU Student Executive, staff across the SU and I’m also on a dozen or so university committees or meetings. Because of this, I have an unusual reach across the University. I regularly meet with a range of stakeholder, student officers, Principal’s office and professional services as well as external meetings.
I like linking people up. I make a point of meeting staff within the Union who I don’t line manage. Once a week, I go out and try to meet someone so that I can focus on their staff development. I’m hoping this will have a positive impact on the culture. It’s easy to get stuck in your office and structured meetings, and quite often there is a criticism about senior managers being distant. So I go out and meet the staff to try and change that opinion.
What is something you’re proud of in your career that you’d like other people to know?
I am proud of the strategic transformation of the Student’s Union. Just over ten year ago I went through a process of troubleshooting, followed by a phase of stabilising, then going from doing good to great stuff!
We try to be quite transparent as a Union and the students really keep us on our toes. I’m really proud of the Student’s Union in its entirety. We are enabling and fostering the talents of others.
What do you see as your role in helping the University achieve its Strategy 2030?
My role is pulling it together and helping the SU deliver aspects of it. The strategy will flourish if the student body is at the heart of it, and ideally behind it. I really like the strategy. As a Union, we’re going to be a critical friend, so being critical and supportive when it needs to be.
What’s your favourite place on any of our campuses, and why?
I don’t have a specific favourite. I’m really passionate about university spaces and I’ve been working on physical changes to make the spaces look more attractive. I’m involved in reviewing food concepts in the outlets, as well as details such as light, sound, comfort and atmosphere.
I’ve worked on all sorts of projects, from the Qmotion capital build and subsequent improvements, through to student community learning spaces such the NEST. I spend a lot of time looking at internal spaces. The Big 3 survey spoke to over 2,000 students and we are looking at what students wanted changed, finding that external spaces were important to them.
I’m interested in how student health and wellbeing can be linked. People too often work in their own pods and, as a Union, we can look across the different areas and help link people up. I’d really like to see Godward Square become a recreational space to celebrate our diversity on campus as well.
You’re a trustee of the Young Gamers and Gamblers Education Trust (YGAM) which has recently published the ‘How gaming and gambling affect student life’ report. How did you become involved with YGAM?
I have been a trustee for YGAM for two years, and was asked to become the Chair of the charity soon afterwards. It’s a chairity of can-do culture that walks the talk, and it’s grown to become a national charity in a short timeframe. I was brought in after a governance review to help create a contemporary, agile charity. I was interested as my day job has elements of social change, governance and practical management and executive skills. As chair, it’s an opportunity to do some really interesting stuff, ranging from hosting parliamentary symposiums, ambassadorial and networking commitments, through to board business with some inspiring members.
Its purpose is to inform, educate and safeguard young people against problematic gambling or social gaming. YGAM approaches this through three distinct activities: practitioner workshops, peer education and research. I want to enable students to make informed choices.
If you could change one thing about Queen Mary, what would it be?
I’d like Queen Mary to reach its full potential. It has great potential and some of the stuff in the 2030 strategy is really amazing. I want to do well by our students and remove barriers to help them flourish and succeed and get the jobs they deserve and to do the research they want to do.
Tell us a bit about how the SU are supporting Queen Mary during the Coronavirus lockdown?
We have managed to re-launch our Be Kind To Your Mind campaign, with a self-isolation/lockdown spin on it. It gives students tips, advice and resources for how to look after their wellbeing and keep busy whilst at home. Make sure you send any ideas into us if you discover something that is keeping you entertained. We are also running all of our usual services, just remotely now, and are supporting students with academic appeals and general queries and advice. Our Student Engagement team have been busy assisting with all the event cancellations from student groups, as well as trying to run their yearly elections. When we closed all of our retail outlets a few weeks ago, we made sure that all excess food was donated either to our students currently residing in halls, and to one of the local food banks, to ensure that nothing went to waste.
What are your top tips for maintaining good wellbeing during the lockdown?
Personally, I’m trying to eat and sleep well, message friends and family regularly and have a joke and a laugh. Bit of green finger action in the garden as exercise and fresh air, as well as indulging in loud or heavy music (through headphones, for the sanity of my family), which has to include a bit of New Model Army! Taking walks in the local wetland parks, playing board games and a bit of drawing with the kids also help me to maintain a good wellbeing during this lockdown.
In your own words, how would you describe Queen Mary to your friends who don’t know it?
It is the best that university can offer: top teaching and learning, diversity, a great BAME record. It feels earthy and is an inspiring place. And of course, it has the best Student Union!