Admission Impossible: Rebecca Wildman’s story

Head shot of Rebecca Wildman (MBA Senior Leader Apprenticeship 2022)

At times, the world of Higher Education can feel not dissimilar to a big budget action blockbuster – people’s lives and futures are in your hands. Here to discuss the responsibility that comes that and how rewarding it can be, is Rebecca Wildman (MBA Senior Leader Apprenticeship 2022)

Tell us about your current role

In my current role as Deputy Head of Admissions (Postgraduate) at Queen Mary University of London, I am a member of the central Admissions senior leadership team. I work collaboratively across the team to support Queen Mary’s strategic objectives for student recruitment to all modes and level of study – from undergraduate foundation to doctoral study. I have lead responsibility for delivering an effective postgraduate admissions service, including the development and implementation of policy, procedure and processes that support postgraduate admissions across the University. I play a key role in effective management of change and continuous improvement projects, ensuring that systems and resources are aligned to deliver Queen Mary’s ambitious strategy for student recruitment. In addition to managing the Postgraduate Admissions team (based in London, Beijing and New Delhi) and working as a senior member of the Admissions management team, I have a key role in supporting Queen Mary’s three Faculties as the Admissions business partner for all matters concerning postgraduate admissions.

What made you want to choose this career path?

After graduating from University, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do next, and I was applying to various different roles in different industries. I knew that I wanted to work at an organisation with an international outlook, so I started volunteering in the International Office at my local university, helping with the administration of recruitment and admissions of international students. I really enjoyed that work, especially the admissions side, so I started to apply more specifically for international roles in higher education. I managed to get my first ‘proper’ job as International Admissions Administrator and have continued to develop my career from there at several different universities.

I enjoy the fact the admissions work is cross cutting across so many different areas of the institution (e.g. recruitment, student records, student systems, finance, accommodation, course/programme management), so it really is a great training ground for anyone to start their career and develop it in many different directions.

What is your favourite thing about what you do?

Having worked in admissions for nearly 12 years, I really enjoy the fact that we are the first team that potential students engage with on their journey towards higher education, so we have a chance to help form their first impression of the institution and their potential student experience. I’m also proud of the fact that the admissions service supports individuals on their way to transforming their lives and socio-economic prospects in a way that they might not be able to imagine as they start their journey.  In fact, The The English Social Mobility Index for 2022, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Queen Mary as the best Russell Group university for social mobility and third best in the country overall for a second successive year.

In terms of career development, I enjoy the fact the admissions work is cross cutting across so many different areas of the institution (e.g. recruitment, student records, student systems, finance, accommodation, course/programme management), so it really is a great training ground for anyone to start their career and develop it in many different directions.

What are your goals for the future?

From a professional viewpoint, I’m happy continuing to work within admissions for now, perhaps moving up to Head of Admissions at some point in the next few years. I also have an interest in career development, so I am aiming to branch out into more coaching and mentoring for people who need some support with their next career move. This may involve completing a further vocational qualification in career guidance or coaching and mentoring.

If anyone reading is thinking of working in Higher Education (HE), what one piece of advice would you give them?

There are lot of roles in HE that don’t involve teaching.  If you want to work in HE, don’t limit your options as to where to start – there’s a role for everyone!

How did you come to study at CCCU when you did?

Whilst I was working at CCCU, I was made aware of an information session for any staff members who might be interested in the new MBA in Collaborative Leadership and Senior Leader Masters Degree Apprenticeship. I had previously applied for a MBA, but had to decline as I wasn’t eligible for a Master’s Loan from the UK government. I went along to the talks and like the idea of being able to get the MBA whilst learning on the job as well.

What is your fondest memory of your time at CCCU/Canterbury?

My cohort started the course in January 2020, shortly before the coronavirus lockdowns, so I think for me it has to be the way the cohort managed to come together to support each other despite everything else going on. The course team in CCCU Business School were also brilliant at adapting the course and supporting the cohort through that time as well!

How did your time at university impact on your life and career post-education?

I actually moved roles halfway through the apprenticeship to a higher level senior management role, which was a great benefit of doing an apprenticeship!

What does being part of the #CCCUAlumni community mean to you?

I’m proud to have graduated from a university that has such an impact on the local economy, in particular, and to join that network.

What made you want to share you story as part of our Futures stories programme?

Apprenticeships play such an important role in social mobility, so I like to be able to be able to share my experience with people who might not previously have thought about completing an apprenticeship.