Spotlight on... Rea Souida

Rea Souida from UCL’s Department of Chemical Engineering
Rea Souida from UCL’s Department of Chemical Engineering
This week Rea, Senior Staffing Officer at the department of Chemical Engineering, talks to us about her varied role, her commitment to creating an inclusive environment within her department, and the power of collaboration to enhance all aspects of life.

What is your role and what does it involve? 

I am the Senior Staffing Officer at the department of Chemical Engineering, within the BEAMS Faculty. I have been working as an HR Professional for around 7 years now and it has been quite the journey!

In this role, I find myself right in the middle of a dynamic range of Human Resources operations. I would say that my role has two levels; the operational and the strategic one. On the operational administrative level, my responsibilities extend from overseeing the recruitment process to offering expert insights into various HR issues; inductions, training, appraisals, immigration. On the strategic part, I actively engage in collaborating with academic leaders to align HR plans and processes with departmental and UCL’s goals and strategy. I’m also actively participating in the EDI committee and the Athena Swan working group. 

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

I have been at UCL for about four years now (since 2019). I joined as an Employment Policy Administrator in the Employment Policy and Employee Relations team. I was at this role for a bit over a year providing administrative support to the team and supporting the Director of Employee Relations and Policy before moving to the Department of Chemical Engineering. I undertook a secondment at the department as a finance and staffing administrator and then was hired permanently for the role. The role changed a year after to Staffing Officer and I was regraded in 2022 as a Senior Staffing Officer. Moving from a role in central HR to a department was quite interesting and very challenging as you get to see how policies and processes are developed and then how they are implemented. It helped me appreciate even more the important work of our colleagues in central functions but also the very challenging work of everybody within the departmental Professional Services teams.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I am most proud of receiving the BEAMS Professional Services award for ’Delivering on equality, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.’ This recognition is a testament to my contributions that have also supported the Gold Athena Swan Award that the department received this year, my work around improving the recruitment of underrepresented groups, and my active involvement in the departmental EDI committee. These achievements reflect my unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive environment and promoting equality in all aspects of our work.

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of your to-do list 

On my top of the list is our work around developing a comprehensive 5-year HR action plan that aligns with our pursuit of inclusivity within the department, building on our recent achievement of the Gold Athena Swan award. Our overarching goal is to create a more inclusive and open work environment, through a series of internal changes, encompassing both targeted solutions and tailored strategies. From refining recruitment approaches to enhancing training programs, each step will look to contribute to nurturing a workspace where every individual feels valued and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives. 

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

I have two favourite books; Les Miserables and Utopia. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo is a literary masterpiece with beautifully developed characters and an unflinching examination of societal injustices. The themes of redemption and the complexities of morality make me reflect deeply on the human experience. My other all-time favourite, Utopia by Thomas More, is more of a vision of an ideal society and, as I read it in a very young age, helped me question and re-evaluate some of the societal values I took for given. These works, each in its own way, remind me of the incredible power that literature hold to touch our souls and provoke meaningful introspection.

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

In a scene from the show Parks and Recreation, one of the main characters, Ron Swanson says: When people get too chummy with me, I like to call them by the wrong name to let them know I don’t really care about them."

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

My choices for dream dinner guests would undoubtedly include Fernando Pessoa, Victor Hugo, and Agatha Christie. 

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would advise my younger self to embrace the power of collaboration, as it holds the potential to amplify your achievements and help you develop as an individual and as a professional. To try and recognise that working together with others often leads to richer ideas, diverse perspectives, and shared success.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am a huge fun of crime podcasts! 

What is your favourite place?

I am not really sure I have one but I would say my favourite place is around my favourite books. It gives me a sense of calm and warmth. 
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