Profile: Sharon Mitchell

Sharon Mitchell is Business Manager for the Estates Directorate. The Estates Directorate is responsible for the management and strategic development of the University’s properties and their related infrastructure – currently 290 buildings totalling 530,000m² of all ages, shapes, and sizes. The Estates Directorate also supports the development of all capital building projects, with expenditure of £60-£90m per year. For more information, please see

Sharon Mitchell

What does your current role entail?

As a member of the senior management team of the Estates Directorate my role is very much to facilitate the non-building projects undertaken by the Directorate – things like the communications strategy, risk management, metrics, compilation of information for reports and requests from other parts of the University, and so on.

I act as the coordinator between the Buildings & Estates Sub-Committee Secretary and the Estates Directorate, ensuring that all the relevant papers are written and collated.

Other areas of involvement are budget setting for the department; collation and writing of the five year plan; acting as the first port of call for personnel and office management issues; organising training and managing the training budget; taking minutes and managing follow up actions at meetings; organising away days; keeping heads of the different departments in Estates informed of relevant issues relating to staff, employment law and so forth.

How did you get into this job?

My life before Oxford University took in trust and company administration in Jersey, financial management for Marks and Spencer, office and financial management for a small manufacturing company and recruitment and HR management for a charity fundraising company in Oxford. When I was made redundant, due to the closure of the company for which I was working, in November 2009, I was in the right place at the right time to hear about this current role and my mix of finance and HR experience together with strong admin skills and completer/finisher tendencies led to me being appointed to the position.

What led you to originally apply to work at Oxford?

Whilst I was obviously aware that Oxford University is one of the biggest and most well respected employers in Oxford, I had not really considered applying to the University or working in the higher education sector. However, when I was looking for a job following redundancy, I was in the right place at the right time.

Thinking about your career, what would you like to be doing in the future?

We’re in the process of recruiting a new Director for the Estates Directorate and I’m looking forward to working with that person, settling into new patterns and directions, and having the chance to see through some of the work I’ve been putting into place.

Longer term, I would like to set up my own business. I think the skills and experience I’ve gained from my jobs to date – especially in finance and human resources – will help me do that, and if necessary, I would also look at doing additional training or skills development.

What do you like about working here?

The people are friendly, challenging and interesting. The role is varied and stimulating and there are always new things to do. I am working in an area of the University that is affording me the opportunity to learn about an industry in which I have not previously worked and therefore to expand my knowledge and horizons. Also, I work in one of the more commercial areas of the University, which I find suits my background.

What are the challenges of working here?

For me the main challenges have been getting used the way that the University operates, having worked in the private sector for over 20 years. The committee structure has been a challenge and although I have now been here for two years I feel that I am still learning – but this is not a bad thing!

In addition, it took me a long time to discover how to meet other departmental administrators and I have found that working in Estates which, although part of University Administration and Services, works as a more separate entity, has meant that I have not had perhaps the same networking opportunities as other departmental/divisional administrators.


Last updated: December 2011