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A day in the life of Tessa Henwood – ITC’s Head of Academic Services

Posted on 09/08/2016 by
Head of Academic Services Tessa Henwood with ITC Managing Director Kerry Priestley.

Head of Academic Services Tessa Henwood with ITC Managing Director Kerry Priestley at the 2015 Graduation Ceremony.

Known for her warm sense of humour, impeccable organisational skills, and infectious enthusiasm, Tessa Henwood is ITC’s Head of Academic Services. So what exactly does she do? Below she chats to Jess about her ‘not-so-typical typical day’ at work and shares some time management tips and tricks.

Describe your typical day

[Laughs]. I’m laughing because I don’t think I have a typical day! Every day is so random and different it’s crazy. Today, for example, I’ve got a half-eaten apple on my desk and a very cold coffee, because every time I go to do something there’s a student or tutor at my door. I love it though – and fortunately I actually quite like cold coffee. I’ve even been known to put ice cubes in it!

But there are some consistencies. I usually get into work at around 6:30am. Partly because I’m an early riser, and partly because I like to get in before everyone else. Generally that means I open the college, unlock all the classrooms and turn on all the lights. Then I get a coffee, turn on my computer, and check my emails. After that I check my calendar to see what I’ve got on in terms of meetings, and I use my calendar to plan my workload. I also have a written to-do list in my book. I would be lost without my to-do list!

So what sort of things are on your to-do list?

My official title is Head of Academic Services. So I manage the academic function of both campuses, with the help of the academic support team (Irena and Ronika), and Kerry who is my direct manager. The tutorial team reports to me. I’m involved in everything ‘academic’ – for example, the creation and development of new content, writing assessments, moderating assessments, and the day-to-day management of our academic performance.

I also make sure that students are achieving as they should, make sure that they are graduating, and keep an eye on academic attendance. And after students have finished, I follow up with them if they need to resits, and I conduct post-moderation (looking at work after it’s been marked to assist with our quality control and to make sure tutors are marking correctly).

So just a small job then! [laughs] I see why you have a cold coffee on your desk!

[laughs] Yes, just a few things! I also do the mid-course evaluation, the end-course evaluation… oh, and we also help students find work experience placements and fine-tune their CVs.

How do you keep on top of your workload?

For me, it’s all about organisation. I’ve got a terrible memory! If it wasn’t for my to-do list and my calendar, I would just forget things. So I write everything down and block out time for tasks on my calendar.

Another little ritual I have is, every day when I leave, I tidy my desk. I file any paperwork, put my dirty cups away, and wipe down my desk. So in the morning I come into a clean start and an organised desk – that way my mind feels less cluttered. If you come into work and everything is all over the place and it’s just really hectic, you spend the whole day feeling on the back foot.

Tessa Henwood

What do you do after work? How do you relax after a busy day?

Cleaning my desk actually helps. So when I shut my door I’m “shutting work off” – when I get home, I don’t actually think about work that much.

Having said that, I am studying towards a Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Education, so my coursework relates to my job… so I do spend some time thinking about work at home, but from a different perspective.

I also try to go to the gym after work. When I get home, I tend to have a shower and put my pajamas on and just chill out for an hour or so before I even start to think about doing something else.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

Student contact. Today a student came to sit in my office and just chatted about how he’s getting on, and about his weekend. And the other day, three of my students landed jobs for Qantas. They graduated last week and will go straight to work for Qantas. It’s little stuff like that… No matter how stressful my day is, when those little things happen, that’s a reminder of why we do it.

I also enjoy the business of my days. That’s part of working in the tourism industry… no two days are the same. That’s why we do these jobs, because we don’t like doing the same thing all the time.

Yes, absolutely! Now to finish, I have a few fun questions to help students get to know you better…

Favourite time of day: Morning, definitely. Sometimes I’ll sit in a cafe on K Road and have a coffee and watch the world come awake for the day. I like that stage when everyone’s walking to work, half asleep, almost oblivious that anyone’s even there.

Favourite place you’ve visited in the last 12 months: Ooh that’s a hard one! Vietnam, I think. Vietnam’s the best Asian country that I’ve been to, it’s so interesting historically.

Favourite food: Cereal [laughs]. My favourite type of food is breakfast food in general. I can have that food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

Favourite place in New Zealand: Probably Tawharanui. It’s so close to Auckland, and the beaches are beautiful – they remind me of the Mediterranean.

Currently listening to: Logic. He’s a rapper from America. People should check out the ‘Logic Kills the 5 Fingers of Death Freestyle’ on Sway radio show – his freestyle is amazing.

Currently reading: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.

Currently watching: I don’t watch TV. If I come home I just put music on or I read my book.

And finally, favourite advice to give to students: Hmm… I always tell them that “opportunities look a lot like hard work.” I had a student say to me this morning, “Tessa, I’m just really lazy. My assessments feel really hard”. And I said, “well, that’s just learning!” It’s like when you go to the gym, and you do loads of squats – your legs hurt. But over time they get stronger. The brain is just the same.

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