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It’s all about collaboration and service

On 1 August, Anne Bækby Johansen took over the position as administrative centre manager at Aarhus BSS. Anne will focus on heading a professional administration that can deliver a great service and coherent solutions in close collaboration with the departments.

2018.08.21 | Sinne B. Jakobsen

Photo: Ingrid Fossum, Aarhus BSS Communication.


Can you describe yourself in three words?

In a work-related context, I am reliable, loyal and strategic.

What do you look forward to the most in your new position?

We have a well-functioning administration with highly skilled employees. My focus is on quality as well as on service, and for that reason, I’d like to increase the cross-functional collaborations so that we’re able to deliver coherent solutions. This means that we need to prioritise our internal services and inspire our colleagues to do their best. As an administration, we also need to focus on our joint administrative task. The more we have a shared foundation, the better the service we can deliver.

From now on, you’ll be managing the Dean’s office as well as the administrative centre in a joint school administration. What are the benefits of having one person as head of the school administration?

The benefit is that the strategy and the day-to-day operations will be more closely linked on all levels - both at the school and in the cross-organisational collaboration at AU. In my opinion, it makes very good sense to have a joint school administration that can support the school’s strategy.

On a more practical level, it means that I’ll be sitting in Bartholins Allé as well as in Tåsingegade. This will allow me to pass on knowledge and information and create coherence and a shared foundation in the administration.

The new organisational structure is also a good opportunity to take an overall look at how we organise the administrative tasks in the administrative centre and the Dean’s Office.

Can you say a bit more about what you believe should characterise the administration at Aarhus BSS?

As you know, it’s stated in Aarhus University’s strategy that AU has confidence in the fact that the administration offers a coherent, effective and professional service. Naturally, I agree with this. My ambition is to make sure that Aarhus BSS has an extremely professional and highly qualified administration with committed and dedicated employees and managers who are passionate about their tasks and about Aarhus BSS. That’s why it’s important that the Dean’s Office, the administrative centre and the department secretariats collaborate on the joint administrative task.

It’s very important that we continuously develop our shared professional foundation and ensure that it’s up-to-date. Recently, we’ve done so by offering joint courses on good public administration and on the General Data Protection Regulation as well as an academic presentation on trust.

How do you establish good collaborations across the school?

First of all, by delivering a good service. People should know that no matter who they contact in the administrative centre, the task will be solved. You might need to draw in several administrative competences to solve the task, but as a customer, you should feel that the task is being solved collectively in one place only.

That’s why it’s absolutely imperative that you establish good cooperative relations. Personal contact needs to be a natural part of our everyday work. I know it works. The time it takes to make a phone call, walk across the street or go to Herning is very often well spent. So grab your papers and go meet your colleague!

What will you be focusing on specifically in the time to come?

As an administration, we’re required to be effective, save money and at the same time focus on quality and improvement. The world is changing and we need to keep up - our tasks are constantly developing and are becoming increasingly complex. This means that we continuously need to assess whether we’re solving the right tasks in the right way, and whether we have the right competences and the right structure. 

As you know, the administration is subject to an economic framework and naturally, we’re obliged to solve our tasks as cost-effectively as possible. However, it’s important to remember that increased efficiency does not necessarily equal cutbacks. We all have a duty to optimise our workflows and processes. In this light, increased efficiency can also mean that you increase the quality or make resources available for other areas that you might wish to expand and prioritise. For that reason, I believe that we need to be able to give a higher priority to some tasks and a lower priority to others so that our efforts create as much value as possible on an aggregate level.

We always have to navigate as best we can within the given framework. At Aarhus BSS, we solve a broad range of tasks, and it’s very important that we’re proactive and support the business. This means that we continuously need to prioritise to make the most of our resources and be able to deliver good service.

As administrative centre manager, you refer to the university director as well as the dean. Can that be a challenge at times?

I don’t think so. They’re both members of the senior management team and having a “double chain of command” makes good sense. AU is a large and complex institution and you need to have an insight into the organisation and an understanding and knowledge of how it works on several levels.

At the same time, the double chain of command contributes to ensuring a coherence across the faculties and in the administration. Although we might have different starting points, we can still create shared results without necessarily having to do everything in the same way. Our goal is to strengthen and contribute to shared solutions when it makes sense.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

I was born in Odense 40 years ago, grew up in Ringkøbing in Western Jutland and graduated from upper secondary school in Aarhus. I hold a MSc in Social Sciences from CBS in Copenhagen, where I lived for 10 years. Almost seven years ago, I returned to Aarhus and started working at AU in Aarhus BSS’ HR department. Concurrently with my work, I was recently a student at the school as I completed my Law degree this summer.

It’s been an interesting experience being an employee as well as a student for a while. It’s given me some valuable input for how we meet the needs of the user - and it has served as a fresh reminder for why we are here. I feel proud very of working in a place where we educate so many talented young people - and I hope that all my employees feel the same. I really believe that we are all contributing to something greater in our everyday work.

Aarhus BSS
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