College of Social Sciences Birmingham Professional

Lorraine Gaytten"Welcome to the Birmingham Professional Programme for professional services staff in the College of Social Sciences. As Director of Operations for the College and Professional Services lead, I am committed to the development and support of all of our professional services colleagues. We play a vital role in the success of our College and are at the heart of our University. 

To continue to build on our achievements the Birmingham Professional initiative has been designed to:

- Provide development and networking opportunities
- Recognise and celebrate best practice and new innovations across the College
- Enhance communication and wellbeing

I very much hope you will take the opportunity to attend some of sessions that may be of interest and that you will encourage your staff and colleagues to do the same.  We welcome any new ideas for future sessions that you feel would be beneficial; please contact our Programme Lead or get in touch with the Programme Champion for your School if you would like to be involved in shaping and designing your future. 

Finally, I would like to thank you for the immense contribution each of you make to the College and very much look forward to working with you to continue to build on this great work together."

Upcoming events

News and blogs


Your Birmingham Professional contacts

The following people are key contact points for all Birmingham Professional activities and events for the College and if you have any questions, ideas or suggestions for future activities or events please do get in touch – we want to hear from you! We meet regularly throughout the year and work closely with the University’s Birmingham Professional Working Group.

CoSS Programme Lead - Kelly Kealey

College Hub

Contact Kelly at

More about Kelly...

I am the Centre Manager for Women’s Enterprise, Leadership, Economy and Diversity (WE LEAD). I manage the day to day activities of WE LEAD, undertaking project management and stakeholder engagement roles, as well as a variety of administrative duties to ensure the smooth running of the Centre. Two key areas of my work are event management and communication activities, which are essential for creating an arena for debate, for putting research into practice and for the dissemination of WE LEAD’s work. I would like the CoSS Birmingham Professional Programme to benefit colleagues across the college, by organising engaging events that will help to develop skills and knowledge. The programme will also provide an excellent opportunity to network and connect with members of staff across the college and I am looking forward to working with all of the champions to develop an exciting programme of events!

Kelly Kealy

CoSS Champion - Adrian Leech

School of Education

Contact Adrian at

More about Adrian...

As a Birmingham Professional Champion I find myself working alongside enthusiastic and dynamic colleagues. I hope this experience will allow me to develop my own administrative and organisational skills whilst at the same time putting my knowledge and experience of working at the University over many years to good practical use.

My first post in Higher Education was as a Resource Assistant in the Regional RE Centre based at Westhill College (now the Selly Oak Campus). Starting in 1986, I remained at Westhill in various roles including; Centre Administrator, finance assistant, publication sales and programme administrator. I was involved in the introduction of the new student loan scheme and can remember issuing cheques to students on their arrival! Westhill College became part of the School of Education (SoE) in the 1999-2000 academic year and since that time I have worked mainly for the SoE although I have had spells working in the Academic Office, Central Timetabling and the Business School. Current and more recent roles in the SoE include; Extenuating Circumstances Officer (previously mitigations) Reasonable Adjustments Contact (RAC), responding to complaints and appeals, plagiarism and the joys of timetabling. My previous experience helps me immensely in my current post as Welfare Officer. 

Many Professional Services colleagues do not see personal or career development as being something applicable to them or something they aspire too, I hope to use my time on the team to change at least some of those opinions.

The Birmingham Professional programme is an excellent way of meeting colleagues from different schools within CoSS and from across the University.

Adrian Leech

CoSS Champion - Andy Howell

School of Government

Contact Andy at

More about Andy...

After working as a filmmaker for a few years after graduating university, I began working at the University of Birmingham; first in the Medical School, then Education, and finally School of Government, where I have risen to be Undergraduate (Deputy) Manager. My role already involves some events organisation in the Applicant Visit Days I manage, and as this is my favourite part of the job I jumped at the opportunity to become the COSS Champion for Government.

Having attended COSS Birmingham Professional events previously and been impressed by their high standards, I look forward to being involved in helping to deliver similarly diverse and exciting events in the future. I am also looking forward to building more links with colleagues in different departments and colleges, which will allow me to be more efficient in both this role and my regular job.


CoSS Champion - David Duell

College Hub

Contact David at

More about David...

I arrived at the University in 2012 and have had an interesting journey ever since! In that time, I have undertaken a variety of roles, both support staff and academic-related, and I’ve developed a keen interest in professional development done well – not just to tick a box. I’m currently leading the Post-Award Research Support Team in the College Hub, which is an engaging role which sees my team support academic colleagues with some of the administrative and systems challenges and negotiations which may arise when conducting funded research.

Since joining the College, I have been attracted by the mix of networking, cultural and themed events on offer under the CoSS Birmingham Professional banner and I think it’s this mix that keeps the event portfolio fresh. There are times when a really engaging event, be it a lunchtime tour of the Barber or an inspirational talk about an interesting subject, can really make the difference in what might otherwise be a challenging day or week. I want to see the CoSS Birmingham Professional continue to devise and support these positive experiences, and I’m delighted to have the chance to contribute to the team.

David Duell

Aakeefa Zahoor

I joined the University in July 2016 working with the International Student Team as an International Support Assistant.  During my time here I gained a lot of knowledge on the Tier 4 visa application process, document checking and advising students with their immigration queries. I was also involved in student experience and I wanted to do more in supporting students.

I am currently working at the School of Social Policy as an Undergraduate Administrator for Years 2 and 3 Social Policy, Criminology and Sociology. During my role here so far working in Programme Admin, I have been given the opportunity to help the student experience team and be involved with Graduation, Welcome and NSS events. I have also attended a number of events which I have been interested in. This has been a positive experience for me and enjoyable. I am glad I have been given the opportunity to be a Birmingham Professional Champion. I am new to this Programme and I am keen to start supporting with future events.

Event recaps and resources

After each Birmingham Professional event we will be producing reports that will provide a recap of the activity as well as sharing feedback and photography from the day. We will also make resources such as presentations available.

Adapting to the new 'normal': reflections and aspirations from working for CoSS in the era of COVID-19

By Angela Storer – Head of Operations, School of Social Policy and CoSS Professional Services lead for People and Culture

Staff Benefits 30 September 2019

Head of HR Reward and Policy, Sally Ells highlighted information at a Staff Benefit session.

Having Difficult Conversations 12 August 2019

Session facilitated by James Cull (POD) to teach staff effective communication techniques when holding a difficult conversation.

Tour of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts 9 July 2019

Tour of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts which gave a brief history of the Barber Institute and introduced visitors to past and presents works to include: Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir and Rossetti.

Interview Skills 13 June 2019

Training session by POD to prepare staff for interviews which considers body language, motivation and response to questions.

Secondment Star Stories 23 January 2020

Secondment session covering personal and career development for staff.

Teaching and Learning Update 24 July 2019

Session by Dr Graham Timmins on the regulatory context in which the University operates and considered the evolving role of the Office for Students, the significance of the Teaching Excellence Framework.

Presenting Yourself with Impact 15 May 2019

This POD taster session delivered by Paul Compton looked at how to present yourself and/or your ideas influentially and with impact, in a variety of face-to-face situations.

Tour of the Lapworth Museum 10 December 2019

Guided tour of the Lapworth Museum and a network opportunity for colleagues across the College of Social Sciences.

Meet the Networks

Staff network session on 14 November 2020 delivered by representatives from the BAME, Enabling, Rainbow, Women's and, Parent's and Carer's network at the College of Social Sciences.
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After each Birmingham Professional event we would really value your feedback and opinion and we will be asking you to complete a brief evaluation of the event. The feedback is used to help us plan future events and activities.

Since 2013 the rolling average for satisfaction for College Birmingham Professional events is 3.5/4.0 and it is only through your feedback that we’re able to continue to offer events which are interesting and relevant to the College’s professional services staff.