A real gem

Rishma Dattani is Associate Dean in the University of Wolverhampton Business School. The 43-year-old from Telford was recently awarded the prestigious Healthcare and Education Excellence Jewel Award, which recognises the achievements of Asian businessmen and women.

What does your work involve?

It’s wide ranging and involves all aspects relating to the student life cycle, ultimately ensuring the student experience is a good one. This includes operational and strategic aspects – policies relating to learning and teaching, support geared to improving student retention, progression and achievement, policies aimed at enhancing the student experience. My work also involves the design and validation of new courses and curriculum at the University of Wolverhampton Business School. We ensure what we offer is fit for purpose from an academic and an employer’s point of view.

What do you enjoy about your work?

The job is so varied that no one day is the same as the next – the variety keeps me going and on my toes! It is also a challenge and I like to meet a problem or issue and resolve it with the best outcome possible. I also enjoy working with people – my colleagues are excellent.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

I came into the job because I wanted to work with students, and I enjoy seeing the culmination of their hard work on graduation day. I also enjoy engaging with employers who have had a student on placement and their feedback is excellent – you do feel a sense of pride.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

Being made Associate Dean – and through that there are many things I am proud of, such as the revalidation of all our undergraduate programmes. Most recently winning the Jewel Award was great and something I never expected to get. To receive recognition for something you enjoy doing is wonderful.

Who are the people you interact with, both internally and externally?

The senior managers within the School – the Dean, Associate Deans, principal lecturers and course leaders. I also work closely with administrative staff in the School and also liaise with Registry staff and senior staff in other schools. Externally we have collaborative partners, such as FE Colleges, employers, and external examiners. I have also travelled overseas to India, where we recruit a number of our students from. Overseas trips have also included establishing new relationships and programme with institutions.

If you were back at University now, what course would you like to study?

When I was doing my A-Levels I was interested in Law, Journalism and of course Economics, which was what I ended up doing. As I have developed as a person I have become more interested in forensics.

What advice would you give to someone who was following in your footsteps?

You have got to work hard and have commitment and dedication. I don’t think in terms of ‘I have not done this before so I can’t do it’, I think ‘I will have a go’. Never say you cannot do something – those are my words of wisdom!

Are you involved in any research currently?

A lot of the research I do now is pedagogic research, for example looking at student feedback mechanisms. As part of the recent revalidation of undergraduate degree in the School I looked at equality and diversity data to try and understand the profile of our students. This has been used in part to inform the new curriculum which is aimed ultimately at enhancing the student experience.

What ambitions do you still have to fulfil?

I had started a PhD focused on the cultural model of corporate social responsibility in Asian small and medium enterprises prior to becoming an Associate Dean and I hope to pick that up again one day. I would also like to progress up the career ladder.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I like cooking and creating fusion dishes. I enjoy reading, especially mysteries, sci-fi and supernatural novels. I also like to listen to Indian music and watch films – when I have the time!