The inaugural Harper Together staff conference has been held – with a day of celebration, innovation, development and training open to employees across the Harper Adams community.
Today marks the first Harper Together conference, hearing from a range of fascinating speakers and providing a wealth of activities for our staff to get involved in! First, we hear from our Vice-Chancellor #HT23 pic.twitter.com/HmY3ArdtbV— Harper Adams University (@HarperAdamsUni) September 19, 2023
Opening the conference, Vice-Chancellor Professor Ken Sloan told attendees: “Today is about togetherness – getting to know each other better to establish a stronger sense of community, appreciating the bounty of talent we have across all our employees, connecting with the goals set out in our strategic plan to understand what our contributions might be, and developing some of the new skills required to achieve our future vision.
“I know that some colleagues are involved in welcoming our postgraduate and international students and other important events across campus. They might only be able to join for some of our staff conference and in some cases, may not be able to get here at all. It is inevitable that we will never find a day that works for everyone. Which is why this will not be the only Harper Together event across the year.
“But it is important that we learn how to free up space to invest in our people and our community – without doubt you are the University’s strongest assets.”
@HarperAdamsUni staff Harper Together Event today! Prof Ken Sloane, the VC, talking about #strategy #community and #togetherness to a full house (well a full marquee ??) ?????????????? ???? #HT2023 pic.twitter.com/qyjKh5a6eY— Andy Wilcox (@dr_andy_wilcox) September 19, 2023
Speakers during the morning session of the conference included Ninder Johal DL, the CEO of the Nachural Group of companies, whose work includes a recording company and an events company, who spoke about his career and about how ‘Change Starts from Within.’
Such a great start to Harper Together #HT23 @HarperAdamsUni, hearing about necessity for change and how to accept and even embrace it! #togetherwewillmakethedifference #optimistandrealist pic.twitter.com/GM4yCnLSsA— Doris Taylor (@DorisTaylor123) September 19, 2023
The conference also linked up with Ukraine via Zoom, with an address to attendees from Bogdan Iegorov, the President of the Odessa National University of Technology (ONUT), which Harper Adams has linked up with through the Universities UK International (UUKi) Twin for Hope campaign.
Professor Iegorov talked about the history of his institution, the development of its work and staff, and the impact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is having upon its work and the lives of its staff and students.
He said: “More than 8,000 students study at the university, and ONUT continues to develop successfully. Our main focus is on close co-operation with businesses and industry.”
While he described the terrible day-to-day effects of the invasion, with ONUT staff keeping the university running under missile strikes, Professor Iegorov told the conference that there were still reasons for positivity too.
He added: “Our optimism comes through supporting each other. Today, we see that almost the whole world is united in supporting Ukraine.”
Meanwhile Andrew Proctor, the Executive Lead for Education at Amazon Web Services, spoke about how technological and digital innovation is set to transform the world – and higher education – in his talk, ‘The Future is Closer than You Think.’
Interesting start to Andrew Proctor's talk - a statement of his personal challenges around presenting. I would be of the opinion that the most nervous presenters are often the best... in that they care. Suffice to say, he was great. #HT23 pic.twitter.com/Ke1MSBVqUR— Dr Lucy Crockford (@SWLecLC) September 19, 2023
Useful lessons from Amazon Web Services’ @Andrew_Proctor …— Lydia Arnold (@LydiaJArnold) September 19, 2023
Don’t expect innovation to be done to you
Leaders are often the worst at learning - stay curious ??
Don’t sabotage innovation with petty bureaucracy [my paraphrase]
All happening at our first Uni Wide Conference… pic.twitter.com/ep8KbGajvG
Mr Proctor and staff from Amazon were also on hand throughout the day at an Amazon Future Universality Zone in the main conference tent.
After the first set of speakers, staff were able to take part in breakout sessions.
These were themed into both personal development – with sessions on branding, university values, and making videos through smartphones – and on other creative activities, including a coffee and clay session, jewellery making, and the development of a Harper Choir.
A thoroughly insightful session from @brighbulb on using a smartphone to produce edited and captioned videos with music at #HT23 today. Loved having a go at this, my own effort attempts to show our amazing campus and what it has to offer our students. pic.twitter.com/C4AUkfknAi— Terry Pickthall (@Tez_Pickthall) September 19, 2023
A performance from the choir opened the afternoon session, which also saw some of the work of those who had developed videos during the morning screened.
We are definitely on the same wavelength! So harper has a musical theatre group and I thought maybe we could approach them about a “night at the musicals” performance. The choir could then do a couple of numbers ??— Nicky Naylor (@NickyNaylor2) September 20, 2023
Following this, a more formal ceremony saw the conferment of an Honorary Doctorate to Margaret Boanas, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Butchers.
Professor Jude Capper, the ABP Chair of Sustainable Beef and Sheep Production at Harper Adams, gave the oration before Margaret received her degree – describing her as “a truly inspirational friend and colleague, with an illustrious career within the meat industry.”
And she added: “Margaret will say that she is only here because of the immense support and mentoring she’s had from people in the industry – I would argue that she has paid this forward a hundred times over. She is a brilliant example to women of all skillsets and ages - throughout her career she has mentored and actively encouraged countless other women to achieve and fulfil their potential.”
It’s official Dr M.Boanas DSc(h.c) don’t worry I will not get too big for my boots !— Mags (@MBoanas) September 19, 2023
Thank you Harper Adams University for the honour and a great day . #education #Diversity #foodsecurity pic.twitter.com/KzGobgQ3Ni
Following the conferment of the Honorary Doctorate, the achievements of Harper Adams employees were marked with the first Make the Difference Staff awards – before the event rounded off with music, drinks and photographs.
Congratulations to short course leaders, Mitch & Ed, for winning an Outstanding Achievement award at the @HarperAdamsUni Harper Together staff conference! They go out of their way to deliver a life changing sustainable agriculture curriculum whilst taking such good care of them! pic.twitter.com/PTlQiuUd39— Marshal Papworth (@MarshalPapworth) September 21, 2023