Eastern Hill Precinct Manager Dr Ayan Dasvarma on the important contribution of professional staff to the successful, smooth running of the Faculty.
Ayan Dasvarma says he knows his work is going well when the people who rely on the services he and his team provide at St Vincent’s Hospital and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital do not know that he exists.
Dasvarma is the precinct manager at Eastern Hill for the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. He works hand in hand with University Services and other managerial colleagues to ensure all infrastructure and operations are working well, so that more than 200 researchers and higher degree students in the precinct are able to get on with their research and research training.
Dasvarma has a PhD in genetics and is sympathetic to the struggles researchers face – in the laboratory with their experiments and with their funding applications.
“When I see an academic getting a research grant, when they have been working hard, when they put in a grant application working day and night, and they get the funding for, say, $2 million over five years – that is rewarding to me,” he says.
Part of that reward is knowing that he and his team have contributed by managing the researcher’s day-to-day operations behind the scenes. “If I am doing my job well people don’t know that I am doing my job,” he says.
Dasvarma hopes that the strategic plan’s focus on reducing the bureaucratic burden for the research, teaching and professional staff working for the faculty will mean that his work is rewarding more often.
“In the current model, a lot of academics get frustrated because they find that something they feel that they shouldn’t have to do – for example, administrative tasks such as getting a form signed – falls to them to complete. Or, they wonder why it hasn’t been done and they have to follow up constantly.”
Operations management works best when we work as a team with the Faculty and the University.
He would like to see more streamlined processes, so that he and his colleagues are given more responsibility and decisions are made closer to the ground. “It might be a bit radical but I would like to think that the University and the Faculty sees the department and the precinct as the primary organisational unit,” he says. “That’s where the business happens, that’s where the magic happens, so to speak, and that’s where I think we should put all our priorities in making sure everything operates effectively.”
If the administrative staff “can see themselves as an integral part of contributing to a much bigger goal, then I think everyone will have much better job satisfaction . . . and be more empowered as well. They will also feel that they are working more closely with the academics, ensuring that the academics and the professional staff can develop solid and effective working relationships.”
“Operations management works best when we work as a team with the Faculty and the University,” Dasvarma explains. “So we all have the same goal – excellent research outcomes, excellent teaching outcomes and excellent engagement outcomes. As professional staff, I think we have a key part to play in that.”