Name: Lydia Devenny
Job title: Director of Finance, University of Huddersfield and 3M BIC Board member
Tell us about your career journey:
I have been lucky to have had a varied career as a finance professional, beginning in industry before making the move into the educational and skills sector. I graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Manchester and my first role was as a finance management trainee at British Rail. I also worked in manufacturing, distribution and retail with Magnet Ltd before moving into software development with a small FinTech company.
My first role in the not-for-profit sector was at the British Library, with my first directorship coming at a Sector Skills Council before ending up in education. As well as Director of Finance at the University of Huddersfield, I am a director here at 3M BIC.
Describe a typical day at work:
Happily for me, there’s no such thing as a typical day! My children think I spend all day playing with spreadsheets – but this is a long way from the reality.
My job is to help the University make decisions that align with the institution’s strategy. I provide financial advice and analysis to support decision making as well as ensure that there are comprehensive systems of internal control, so we operate in a sound and proper manner.
I’m often involved in meetings either on behalf of the University or with colleagues on many varied and interesting topics.
What keeps you motivated at work?
The University of Huddersfield’s ambition and how that translates into making a difference for our students, and for the employers and other businesses we work with.
The most exciting thing about your job?
Working with a great team of people who are all passionate about what we do, as well as being part of something that makes a difference and can transform lives.
The most challenging?
Every day has its share of challenges. I enjoy the process of problem solving and working with colleagues to generate creative solutions. Often something that starts out as a challenge is an opportunity to learn something new, or to get to know someone and build trust.
Time of the day you most creative or inspired?
I’m at my best first thing in the morning and often get my best ideas and solutions to the ‘knotty issues’ of the day when I’m out for a morning run, when the physical exercise takes over and the brain is in free flow.
Proudest career moment?
Gosh that’s a hard one…. I always hope to leave an organisation or role in a better place than when I started it, and so I think the sense of satisfaction of knowing that you made a positive difference brings a certain pride. From a career perspective, being appointed as Director of Finance here at the University is something I feel very proud to have achieved.
Best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You don’t have to be right all the time!
What innovations should we look out for in your industry?
As a finance professional it is always interesting to see where our profession is heading. Much of the interest remains around the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in finance and how that will change the finance function, as well as how we can address the challenges of climate change.
Out of the office…?
When I’m not working, I spend time with my husband and children, life can be very busy making sure everyone’s in the right place at the right time!
I love all forms of music; I play the violin in a couple of orchestras which means rehearsing and performing during the year. I also decided to learn to play the trumpet a few years ago and have joined a beginner’s adult band, which is great fun.