David Hyland joined the Department of Psychiatry in January 2024 as Head of Administration and Finance. He leads the professional services teams across all functional areas, including finance, grants, HR, comms, student administration and facilities, and provides strategic advice to the Head of Department and the senior leadership team.
Tell us a little about yourself, and what attracted you to studying/working at the University of Oxford?
My background was in classical music. I did my undergraduate degree as a pianist at the Royal College of Music. My partner was at Oxford and when our first child came along I moved to Oxford too. I temped my way through a string of office jobs as a way to make a living, while trying to land bigger job, and then, after working for Oxfam, the Bodleian and the British Library, I was appointed as an ‘Administrative Officer’ in the Humanities Divisional Office. That was in 2003 and I have stayed with the University ever since, moving between different faculties/departments and eventually into the Medical Sciences Division. I never consciously chose a career in university administration, but I did gravitate towards public sector and charity roles, although for a while I contemplated a research career. I was offered my first ‘HAF’ role in 2006 (at the Ruskin School of Art) and I have returned to it many times – the work can be intense and challenging, but it is always interesting and rewarding.
What is your vision for the team/project/research you study/work with?
I would like to help all staff and students in Psychiatry to achieve the best outcomes in their work, in particular through enabling a good work-life balance and creating an environment where professional services staff can thrive and are able to deliver excellent support for the research and teaching activities of the Department.
What is currently at the top of your To-Do List?
I consider myself to be still very much brand new in the Department. My current priority is getting to know everyone and finding out what their priorities are, so that I can ensure that resources are focussed on what matters most. I am really looking forward to meeting with PIs and research groups and learning more about the exciting work being done!
How did you get to where you are today?
I have been fortunate in my career to have had supportive and encouraging line managers, who enabled me to take on new and exciting areas of work and to undertake secondments. I remember in particular being well-supported by the head of Humanities administration, who offered me personal coaching and training opportunities, as well as mentoring by more senior administrative staff from other parts of the University. I think a willingness to be mobile and flexible about your career trajectory can open doors, although of course it is also partly luck (right place / right time) and partly perseverance.
Who or what inspires you?
I am constantly inspired by my partner and my children (and, occasionally, by my cats!) – they have taught me so much, not least about the importance of ‘leaving work at work’ and getting the balance right. I aspire to be as patient, generous and optimistic as they are.
If you were not in your study programme/job currently, what would you like to be doing?
For while, I quite fancied the life of being a cocktail pianist working on a cruise ship… but actually I think I’d prefer to be travelling the world in my own right, and listening to the pianist while sipping the cocktails in good company at the end of a long day’s exploration. Now that my children are nearly all grown up, I am looking forward to a bit more travel and adventure.