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Learn from the professionals: Business

Posted 8 October 2014

Senior Tutor for Business, Jane Headley

If this was Senior Tutor Jane Headley's UCAS application, it would begin 'from an early age, I have always enjoyed working with numbers...'

"I have not always been a lecturer, I began in a ‘proper job’ as a graduate trainee accountant for a global pharmaceutical manufacturer, now part of GlaxoSmithKline.

"This was a typical graduate scheme, moving through departments and across sites in South East England, gaining a range of skills. Heading onto the shop floor to review the anti-AIDS tablet manufacturing process involved a hairnet, full overalls and overshoes," she said.

With this, Jane studied for her professional management accounting qualification in London for two years, an accelerated route based on her accounting and finance degree.

Eager for a company car, she moved to run the head office management accounts team of an American-owned office products company, followed by several years working on the Isle of Sheppey for a German electrical and electronic component manufacturer.

Jane added: "Here, my role as interpreter of the numbers was vital as I worked with three factory management teams, highlighting issues and seeking solutions. I enjoy the challenges of manufacturing; there is much to deal with between the purchase of raw materials and the sale of a finished product in a global operation."

Head-hunted to the Midlands to work as a finance director, Jane watched cash flows for a timber merchant that sold to house builders, which she admits was not the best of payers. But, the timber depots at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios provided Jane with an interesting view of film finance.

"Set building, from timber, was done towards the start of the film-making process when funds were still high, so we could be paid in two weeks if we asked, which we frequently did," she said.

Returning to the corporate world as UK head of management accounts, in this role Jane was responsible for the accounting across four factories, a distribution centre and a sales operation totalling £100m turnover.

She said: "High quality product design was vital as pneumatic solutions were created for key account sectors including automotive and healthcare, balanced with the need for cost-effective products."

Taking on the role of lecturer six years ago means that Jane now tells the story of numbers not to directors and managers, but to students.

Jane said: "Few students arrive at Harper Adams with the main aim of gaining an understanding of finance, so my role is to tailor the content to each group and seek to identify the relevance for their world. Talking to staff across these programmes helps me to achieve this.

"I teach students on programmes for engineering, countryside management, rural chartered surveying and veterinary nursing. I also teach our business students, not just finance, but also basic statistics and personal development. This helps me to get to know the students better in support of my role as Senior Tutor for Business."

In addition to the undergraduate and postgraduate students, Jane also teaches on a range of short courses, bringing the 'business element' to many programmes.

To contextualise these lectures, she has visited livestock markets, meat processing plants and a veterinary pharmacy, looking to understand the stories that will exist behind their numbers.

"So perhaps my UCAS application should start, 'from an early age, I have always looked to tell the story behind the numbers...'"

To talk to Jane about her career and the business courses at Harper Adams, there is still time to register for the Harper Adams open day this Sunday. Click here for details.

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