60 seconds with Jackie Parker
Jackie is an Accounts Officer in the P2P Team in Finance.
In this interview, she provides an overview of her busy role and shares her passion for Public Engagement and the driving force behind it.
Tell us a little about your role
I am part of the Finance Department for Oncology, and I run the P2P Team, so all of the orders that are put through R12 come to us, all the invoices are processed by us, and we also process all the expense claims and payment request forms – basically if it involves money, it involves us!
And why is what your team does important?
Without the Finance Team, ordering for lab consumables or equipment wouldn’t be able to happen, so I like to think we are there enabling the cutting edge of research. The P2P Team along with the Grants Team also need to make sure that any purchases or expenses are within the Terms and Conditions of the award that has been granted, and as most of the money we have in the Department is charitable money, this is something I personally take very seriously.
How did you get to where you are today?
When I first left school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I always read a great deal and when I was very young I saw a shop that was called a bookmakers and thought it sounded like my ideal job. Although I soon found out how wrong I was, I still applied for a job in Ladbrokes, and I loved it! I ended up working for the company for twenty years, on and off, part time and full time – I worked at Royal Ascot, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and for a whole season in a Premiership football ground (Madejski).
As much as I loved the job though, I knew my heart was really in Science and I went to Brookes University to study Human Biology as a mature student when my daughter was 6 months old.
Once I graduated, I couldn’t afford not to be working so I had to take a temporary job as soon as I could. That was at Unipart Automotive and my temporary job became 8 years – I worked as a Data Specialist and then I moved into Pricing. I made some great friends, worked with some very dedicated people and really learnt how teamwork should be done and for that I am very grateful.
In July 2014, Unipart Automotive went into administration and once again I needed a job quickly. Luckily for me, I was recommended to the Oncology Finance Team and so I started at the University. I have been here for 4 years now, in both the Grants and Accounts Team, and I love every day – there is still so much to learn! I have also been on a secondment to Central Finance to see how the University as a whole does the Financial Year End and why what we do is so important for them. Another thing I love about working here is that I can go to any seminars that sound interesting.
You’ve just been named as one of the Department’s Public Engagement Ambassadors, congratulations!
What is your motivation for getting involved with Public Engagement? Does it pose any particular challenges?
Our Finance Manager arranged for Martin Christlieb to come to talk to the team about Public Engagement, and the sort of things he goes out to do. I volunteered as I thought it sounded like fun – I think I was the first non-scientist that had volunteered, but I love going to be a visitor at Science Fairs and things like that, so I thought it was a great opportunity to be able to tell people about the research that’s going on in the University.
Engaging people with research became especially relevant to me when my daughter’s dad passed away during a CRUK fundraising bike ride. His JustGiving page raised over £60k in the week following and Martin was lovely enough to take Erin on a tour of the Department, so she could see exactly the sort of thing that CRUK money is spent on.
I think it’s our duty to spend the money in the most responsible way and that we should be accountable to the people that raise their money for charity. I really enjoy engaging with children at events and if you have an activity that can get a point across I can almost see why people would consider becoming a teacher. For School’s Day, I was lucky enough to get Madalena Tarsounas to explain a small part of her research on BRCA1 and I used that to develop my own activity – the actual day was terrifying to begin with but soon became fun after a few demonstrations.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you like to be doing?
If my career had planned out as I thought it would when I first went to University, I would be a midwife. I have watched 3 of my nieces born and it’s the most amazing experience to be there at the birth of a baby when you aren’t the one doing it!
What’s life like outside work?
I’ve been involved in Scouting since I was 14, and Erin has been all the way through Scouts in Littlemore. I am currently the Secretary for the Spires District and I get involved in various Scouting activities during the year, including Gang Show.
I am also an OUH Hospital volunteer, and I spend a few hours a week on a ward helping with anything that needs doing – it’s definitely never boring! I would like to take this opportunity to recommend that everyone considers volunteering as it’s so rewarding
Outside work, I read a lot, I knit a lot, I watch TV a lot, and I have recently started dragging myself out of bed on a Saturday morning to parkrun, which I don’t enjoy at the time but I am always happy I have done it later on in the day.