Heather Rowlands – Learning about the Dedication of Service

My sixth #WOWales tribute is for Heather Rowlands — a respected colleague of 17 years at Cardiff Business School.

Since my first day in the school Heather helped me and countless other understand the administrative and side of running degree schemes and serving the needs of the growing body of students in . She dedicated years of to the university and helped many senior people navigate the many changes the school faced as the sector evolved in complexity and expectations. 

In 2012, Heather was honored with a lifetime achievement award by Cardiff University. Her award briefing reads …

Heather Rowlands

Hundreds of Cardiff University staff and thousands of students have benefitted from her expertise and devotion to her job.

The scale, complexity and importance of the tasks associated with her job grew exponentially with the size of the School itself.  Over the years Heather built up a level of expertise and body of tacit knowledge which is truly amazing, keeping up with changes in regulations, degree programmes, IT systems and personnel.  She has been the first port of call for all Business School staff needing advice on anything to do with assessment, exams, regulations and the students themselves.

She carried out her role with total professionalism and and as a result the School has been justifiably confident that its assessment processes, one of the most important and high profile activities undertaken by universities, have been carried out to the very highest standards.

Last year I wrote a poem for Heather. A small token of my appreciation when she retired in May 2012. This poem I share with you today in my  #WOWales tribute. For Heather, I wrote …

 —  A Colleague Very Dear  —

I just received an email
I didn’t want to see
Wondering how to say
… Oh gosh it cannot be
Is Heather really leaving
For pastures sunny new
Heather is admired
By many not just the few
She’s dedicated 17 years
She’s helped us navigate
The university procedures
The regs. academics hate
She always works long hours
Filling out all those forms
Dealing with student issues
Her presence is our norm
At the many exam boards
Or when complaints are made
In sorting special consideration
Her mark will not soon fade.
Her role was to support
Academics in our everyday
With complicated issues
She kept many things at bay
Even when I had those questions
And I know it was not just me
Not knowing who to ask
So Heather … I would see
I’d drop her an email
On assessment, student queries too
Heather as you are leaving
Please know we’ll miss you
We admire your knowledge
The many years you’ve played a part
In making CARBS what it is
You’ve been here from the start
It is not an easy thing to write
A poem to show support
For all the things you’ve done for us
To the many of us you’ve taught
What has been important
To help our courses run
To working with externals
I know. Not always fun.
But in these final words
As the weeks turn into days
Know many of us here
Will miss you in many ways
With hand on heart I share this
With you and colleagues near
For I think many us feel the same
You are a colleague very dear.

Learning about the dedication of service

We all have someone like Heather in our schools, groups and organizations. Someone who dedicates years of service. They come in before everyone else, go home after everyone else, they dot the i’s and cross the t’s, and are the person we all go to when we have a question.

It doesn’t matter what new policy of technological innovation we are facing or what new management fad we have been convinced we should learn about, it is the dedicated service of people that matters. It is these people — the men and women who dedicate years of service to our organizations and our communities that really makes them what they are today. And these people are today very rare.

As we move more and more into a digital age our worlds are becoming more defined and evaluated by the services we offer and the service experiences we facilitate others to co-create. Adopting a service dominant logic or service way of seeing in organizations and our role in the world is becoming critical for long term sustainability and to achieve our wider social and community purpose.

It is not just about selling degrees or ticking boxes. It is about facilitating opportunities for learning, for laughter and truly memorable experiences. That is what going to university is — a once in a life time memorable learning experience. Technology and service innovation will only get us so far. Following rigid policies and outdated regulations will take us backwards. It is people with a dedication to serving others and who can work within the complexity of a service system; it is how they interpret, deliver and  dedicate their service to others and help define what our future looks like.

Why dedicate herself for over 17 years to the service of others? In her words …

“… [my] motivation came from the desire to make sure that the students were properly and fairly treated.

People make the difference. People like Heather who dedicate years of service to the learning of others. 

To Heather, I dedicate this #wowwales tribute.

Heather Rowlands, a #wowwales colleague, mentor, and friend.

Who inspires you?


Read more about my #Wowwales Insight Series. From the 9th February to the 9th of March, I’ll post a new blog post every day with a tribute to someone who has inspired, mentored or encouraged me during my 10 years here in Wales. 

You can follow my insight series @drkellypage with the hashtag #wowwales. OR why not join me and contribute your own blog tribute to the Women of your World (#WOW) — women who inspire, mentor or encourage you. 

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