Mirjana Jovancevic is the Associate Director Macquarie University International College (MUIC) Programs.
I’ve always been an early riser, getting up between 4:30 and 5:00am. I believe in getting important things done before 10 am, as a sense of achievement obtained early in the day keeps me motivated when energy levels drop as the day progresses.
I am an up-and-go morning person, and have a strict 20-minute, jump-out-of-bed, eat, dress and out-the-door routine. For 22 years now, I have done an hour of exercise in the morning before work or studies; rain, hail or lethargy. I believe in “exercise before all else” as it improves my mood, energy levels and concentration and has provided me with the disciplined required to tackle many of life’s challenges.
An hour of weight training or martial arts helps me to focus and kick off my day, sometimes literally!
While this time sometimes doubles up with subconscious planning for work or listening to documentaries, I try to compartmentalise, keep focused and block out everything else, including horrible gym music.
On the commute to work, I review work emails and do my planning for the day, ready to walk into daily briefings with my team. I reserve the first half hour of my day for consultation with my team members and handling of any matters which require immediate attention.
Others have trouble deducing what I do from my title. In simple terms, I head the academic arm of MUIC.
I manage the teaching team, programs, delivery and associated operations.
My role has evolved substantially as the College has progressed through different stages of growth. Initially it entailed project management of the development of academic programs, policies and internal processes, writing of curricula, recruitment and training of staff, operationalisation of delivery and fending off disbelief that the College would be established within the project timelines or delivery possible in the intensive model. Now that the College has surpassed its developmental phase and is a maturing organisation, my work is focused on projects aimed at streamlining delivery and improving academic operations and outcomes. I am involved in program reviews and curriculum renewal, quality assurance of academic outcomes and building a strong and cohesive teaching team.
So how does this translate to a typical workday?
Meetings, meetings and more meetings, interspersed with visits to the MUIC communal food trolley and munching on something others perceive as unpalatable.
(I apologise if you have had to meet with me while I devoured a tomato or celery stick, but I make the most of every feeding opportunity). My schedule is defined by the projects I am working on at the time, whether it be the implementation of a new University policy or the review of MUIC classroom layouts. I am currently working with the MUIC Curriculum team on the redevelopment of our units and program changes associated with the Curriculum Architecture project. I may be meeting with Associate Deans and Heads of Department to ensure that MUIC programs, practices and outcomes remain aligned with faculty, representing the College on committees such as SLTC, FLTCs or working groups, or chairing the MUIC Discipline Committee.
I often get asked what it is like to work within the fast-paced delivery model that the College operates in. It is a bit like hurdling. You always have to keep on the balls of your feet because as soon as one term ceases, you launch into another. You must maintain multiple teaching sessions at the one time, be across multiple projects and be malleable enough to adapt to continuous change.
I love this aspect of my role and the context we operate within because it means as a business unit we are very agile, highly responsive and continuously evolving. I would not have it any other way.
What I love about MUIC is that it is a microcosm of diversity; a workspace that creates a perfect climate for cross-pollination of ideas across differing fields and between professional and academic staff with a wide spectrum of experience. We have examples of symbiotic relationships between Physicists and English language experts drawing on each other’s disciplines to integrate language learning methodologies into the delivery of a physics unit and model best practice. We have education experts, linguists, statisticians, economists, engineers and accountants sitting together in the same staffroom. We have staff who have won university teaching awards, published comics and created multimodal books all sharing their expertise. I have been very fortunate to work together with this amazing team of academic and professional staff and the most interesting aspect of my role is seeing how this diversity manifests itself in day to day scenarios and contributes to the evolution of a new business unit and a new culture.
Learning from others and seeing individuals evolve as a result of this diversity has been immensely rewarding.
I leave the office at around 5:30pm and do my wrap-up emailing on the two-hour commute home. I find this is a good time where I can focus, tie up loose ends, read and work on projects.
In the evening, I try to make the most of time with my partner and family but getting up before 5 means that I become pretty inattentive at around 9:30pm. My family and friends know not to attempt to get any input from me after this time. If you ask me, I would say I clock-off and go to bed at this point. However, if you ask my sleep-deprived partner, apparently I clock back on and keep him awake talking about work in my sleep. I know nothing about that. Perhaps I am a sleep-worker. Perhaps I do my best work at night. Which begs me to ask, does sleep-working count?