Controlling the purse strings

By: Vicky Kingsman, Research Centre Administrator

I arrived at COMPAS in 2006 fresh from Brazil sporting a rapidly fading tan and a rather empty bank account. Luckily the maternity cover post for Centre Administrator came up at COMPAS and I managed to persuade those in charge I was the one they needed. My previous work experience was mostly in the private sector but I had grown tired of this and wanted to do something less corporate and more for the greater good, as cheesy as that sounds.

With experience in research services I could have gone to work for any research centre but I wanted to be able to understand the funding proposals we were submitting and believe in the benefit of the results. It sounds a cliché to say I have always had an interest in migration but it’s true and I think now that it has such a prominent position on the political stage, accurate independent research is of huge importance. I can also insert a shameless plug here for the Migration Observatory at COMPAS if you’re interested in some up-to-date responsive analysis to that evolving political debate?

When I started COMPAS was about half its current size and we were fortunate to be funded by an ESRC centre grant until 2008 (which we successfully extended to 2013). I was responsible for administering this grant along with our other externally funded research projects, all our personnel administration and overseeing the day to day running of the building. It wasn’t all about spreadsheets and funding reports (although there were many!) I also honed my communication skills working with a variety of people from researchers and students to international project partners. We had a range of funders so I gained experience with philanthropists, Researcher Councils and the European Commission, to name but a few.

We were in a very comfortable position; the economy was strong and the end date of our contracts all felt very far away. However all good things come to an end and as we got closer to 2013, it became apparent we needed to make a choice either for COMPAS to disband or continue beyond our ESRC core funding. The fact that you are reading this and I am not frantically sending off job applications is evidence enough we decided to work to sustain COMPAS. We demonstrated to our host department (the School of Anthropology) we could continue and evidenced this with our 5 year business plan. This was strengthened with the successful introduction of the MSc in Migration Studies (jointly offered with the Oxford Department of International Development) which is now in its second year.

This has ultimately led to my responsibilities moving from managing the administration of COMPAS to designing and implementing its development strategy to ensure its financial stability. I will officially move into this role in a few weeks where you can find me under the new name of Development Manager.  I hope I can count on your support and enthusiasm to work with and support COMPAS in the future. Long live COMPAS!

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