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Dr Rachel Wicaksono

Head of School: Languages & Linguistics

Rachel Wicaksono

I studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University, then when I graduated, I was desperate to travel so I began to explore teaching English as a foreign language. I first spent time in India, before moving to Indonesia. Since then I have been involved in teaching English, teacher training, research, and project and school management in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Sweden, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

When I moved back to the UK, I was a single parent to 2 young children, so I understand the pressures of juggling work with the caring responsibilities that fall to many women. I keep an open door, I don’t check up on my staff, I try to give them the freedom and flexibility to manage their own time, on and off campus.

Flexible working is really important, especially if you have a family too. I feel privileged to work with people who are world leaders in their field, I consider it my job to empower them however I can.

Sometimes I hark back to what my old girl guiding leader said: she told me that I can’t get every badge, can’t do everything at once. I’m still the same way, I build up a head of steam, full of ideas and want to action everything. You do need to prioritise, take a breath and be strategic.

I realised at one point that I’m bad at managing upwards: a former colleague said to me that I was comfortable with my peers but less so with those in senior roles. This is definitely something that I’m working on but it doesn’t come easily. Don’t work in the shadows, make sure what you do is visible, make sure people know your worth: don’t be afraid to flag things up to your line manager and be heard.