Staff spotlight: an insight into HR

ellie purser

This term’s staff interview gives us an insight into the world of Ellie Purser, DSPI’s HR Officer.


Tell us about yourself

After studying English at undergraduate level, I found myself drawn into Human Resources (HR) work. I did training roles at the University of Hull and was funded to do a master’s in HR Management. From there I went to work in the NHS where I worked on organisational change and complex casework in an acute trust, then I moved back to Hull in a project management role before moving on to University of York as an administration manager in a 350+ people department (Biology).


What do you enjoy about working in a Higher Education environment?

I like being part of the amazing research that goes on across the University. While I appreciate my role isn’t ‘frontline’ for research I do believe that excellent HR enables us to recruit the best people, and to ensure that people have a positive employee lifecycle. I like the collegiate nature of working in a team that comprises different types of staff.


What are your key impressions of DSPI so far?

It’s really friendly and welcoming, and very professional. It’s a nice size because I’m able to be involved in projects like Athena SWAN and Green Impact, enabling me to work with a good cross-section of colleagues. I find the research really interesting and relevant to society, for example the research in South Africa and on gun control. It’s much more accessible than biology!


What do you find are people’s main misunderstandings of HR?

The main one is that people sometimes think that it’s bureaucratic nonsense! Or that HR people are scary, or that HR is only there for when something bad is happening.


How do you respond?

I see myself as personable and approachable, and I want people to know that no question is a silly. Other people are the experts at what they do, and I am here to do the same for HR. My role is to enable people to achieve what they want within a framework – I can advise on risk, and help find the best way forward. Working with HR can be a really positive experience, rather than feeling that we’re working against each other! I’m always open to feedback and I think that’s really important. My role is new at DSPI, I’m here to support the Head of Administration and Finance, so do make use of me.


Ellie is here at DSPI on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and also works for the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies.