Director of Operations Saskia Goedhard: 'Nice that the faculty is such a complex organisation'
Saskia Goedhard was previously director of operations at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam and the UvA. Since April, she has brought her expertise to the Faculty of Humanities as director of business operations. 'Good business management is like water from a tap. You only notice it when it’s no longer there.'
Once Goedhard considered studying history. 'I had written my profile paper on the Ancient Egyptians and thought: this is fun!' It eventually became accountancy, but her interest in humanities never disappeared. 'In a world that is changing so fast, it is important to look at what happened in the past and how that relates to what the future will bring us.'
It was one of the reasons for applying for her current position. 'I obviously don't deal directly with the content, I'm from the management, but I like being able to play an indirect role in the humanities. I also find it challenging that the faculty is a large and complex organisation. My task as director is to get the various disciplines within the operational field to cooperate with one another and work towards providing integrated services and advice to education and research. After all, as far as I am concerned, operational management is not only supportive - "You ask, we tell" - but also advisory. What is coming our way, both internally and externally? How do we relate to other faculties, other universities, colleagues elsewhere in the country?'
Among the first issues to come up for Goedhard in this respect are the new sector plans for the SSH domain, from which one of the implications is that the language faculty needs to cooperate more with other universities. 'Then you have to work out together how we are going to do that in the scheduling and programming? That requires commitment from the programmes and, for example, a department like Educational Advice and Quality Assurance, so I've been talking a lot about this in recent weeks. What are the implications? How are we going to set this up? How do we make sure we are involved in time?'
Work balance and safety
Another of Goedhard's priorities is staff welfare. 'Our staff monitor shows that the workload is perceived as too high by both academic and support staff. Also, the working environment is not perceived as safe everywhere. I think that as a board and as managers we have an important exemplary role in this. We really are trying to bring about change and have an open dialogue. In addition, on 25, 26 and 27 September 2023, all employees will be offered performances of Mindlab, which revolves around social safety.'
According to Goedhard, the faculty's new accommodation can also help with this. 'You can see in the plans that Cluster South has a more transparent design than the Huizinga building, for example. That will help us see each other more often and perhaps also give a different atmosphere. Of course, we will also pay attention to the buildings that are not yet renovated. In any case, I have high ambitions: ideally, I would like to read in the new monitor in two years' time that people find the workload more acceptable and the culture is considered safer.'