Andrew O’Brien, UWA’s new Director of Student Experience, is passionate about the higher education sector and he’s certainly brought this passion to UWA.
With 20 years at Monash (seven as Director Campus Life), and most recently two years at the University of Tasmania, it’s fair to say Andrew also brings a wealth of experience to the role.
“I’ve been in the higher education sector for the vast majority of my career. I did take a bit of time out when I left Monash and this reemphasised the passion I have for higher ed.
“UWA is such a special university, from its teaching and research pursuits to the broader activities available and not to mention the stunning campus.
“It’s such an exciting prospect to be part of the team working hard to bottle everything that’s great about UWA student life, refine it and get the word out – not just to current and future students, but also the WA community that we serve,” he says.
As Director of Student Experience, Andrew will oversee a portfolio of services that connect students to the University such as student wellbeing, careers, counselling and enrolment services. He says great service and student engagement form the foundation for an excellent student experience.
“We need to work hard to ensure we’re delivering a great student service experience. Identifying the pain points and addressing them quickly and effectively is crucial.
“Providing support to our academic and professional colleagues is another focus for our team as this, in turn, enhances the UWA student experience.
“Making the admin side of a student’s life easy will only result in a more positive appreciation of the service they receive and experience they have,” he says.
Given the digital advancements of the last decade, Andrew says it’s a wonderful time to connect with students.
“We can talk with students in ways that weren’t possible 20 years ago. Students want to be heard and spoken to in their language, and social media allows us to engage in this type of two-way communication.
“It’s instant, nimble and how we should be communicating with students in 2017. If we do it well we will build an engaged student community.
“Looking out my office window I’m blown away by our campus grounds. When I came over for my interview I knew I wanted to be part of this community. It’s this sort of connection to campus and what’s on offer that we need to ignite in students – I’m looking forward to the challenge,” he says.
Andrew’s also looking forward to exploring Perth with his wife Sue, both avid runners.
“We live a stone’s throw from campus so I can’t really run to work, but with Kings Park and the foreshore on our doorstep, we certainly are spoilt for choice.”