Human Resources

Sara McGinn - Senior Student Support Manager

Residential Services - Guildhall Halls 

Employment history

Previous roles/work

  • Studied Veterinary Science (PDSA)
  • Security & Close Protection  (Estee Lauder)
  • Halls Community Support Officer  (UoP)
  • Student Support Manager (UoP)
  • Senior Student Support Manager (UoP)


Key skills and experience gained

  • Customer Service
  • Teamwork
  • Initiative / Self-Motivation
  • Written Communication
  • Planning & organising
  • Flexibility
  • Time Management
  • Verbal Communication
  • Commercial Awareness
  • Problem Solving
  • Leadership
  • Stress Tolerance / Management
  • Decision Making
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Personal Impact / Confidence
  • Integrity


J  Self-Motivated and Determined

J  Team Player

J  Hardworking

J  Strong work ethic

J  Attention to Detail

J  Flexible

J  Problem Solving

J  Excellent Communication

J  Reliable


L  I did have a tendency to take on too much on my own. I now delegate more



Taking Opportunities

v  Certificate in Team Leading Level 2

v  Counselling Skills Level 2

v  BSL Level 1

v  BSL Level 2

v  Mediation

v  DMS Level 5 Management Studies

v  Heart Start

v  Drug Awareness

v  Disability Awareness

v  Appraisee workshop

v  Progressing within a Career in Support Services

v  Workshop for Appraisers

v  Data Protection

v  Health & Safety

v  Welcome Host

v  Multi-Cultural Workshop

v  Employment Law Training

v  Mental Health & Student Accommodation

v  Dealing with Difficult Situations

v  Customer Service

v  Mental Health First Aid

v  Aurora – Women in Business



HE experience - Key skill areas

Current role - what you really enjoy about it:

Having a student who is really struggling with their University course, their personal life or with life in general and being able to support them and turn things around. I am lucky enough to have the greatest job satisfaction possible as I get to watch students; who would have otherwise have left the University; graduate. It is wonderful to be able to see that I have made a difference.

Where you feel your strengths are:                

I have worked for the University of Portsmouth for almost 11 years, in the Student Support Department. I have an excellent understanding of student and residential life. I have continually demonstrated a full knowledge of issues that affect and impact on students in University. I am able to support and solve many problems myself or refer students on to the correct departments as required through my knowledge of the support structure within the University frame work.

I have an excellent working knowledge of the University’s rules & regulations, including the disciplinary procedures and have on occasion had to use this knowledge to remind and even sanction students as necessary.

The University of Portsmouth actively promotes its commitment to supporting disabled students & staff. I have attended Disability Awareness courses with the University and have successfully supported students with varying degrees of disabilities.

My current role is very diverse, with students attending who are often upset, angry and on occasion abusive. I am able to diffuse these situations whilst remaining professional and impartial. I am able, using my own initiative, to refer students to the University’s procedures, policy’s, rules & regulations which often means interpreting and communicating them in a language students (particularly international students) will understand. This can result in writing, updating / re-writing standard operating policies / procedures which I have often had to do. I am well aware of how confusing and daunting University life can be to some students and enjoy the challenge presented in helping them adjust and integrate.

key/transferrable skills

  • Commitment and motivation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Communicating effectively
  • Self-awareness
  • Management and leadership
  • Decision-making ability
  • Organisation, research and thinking ahead
  • Punctuality
  • Good time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability and willingness to enlist help when necessary
  • Willingness to accept responsibility

Where your previous experience helped you in this role

My previous roles prepared me in many ways to take on new and greater challenges and responsibility. As I became increasingly proficient in my role, I was entrusted with training and coaching newer members of staff, something I very much enjoyed and found very rewarding.  I was also asked to participate in increasing numbers of management-level meetings so as to represent matters from the point of view of the 'shop floor'.  Also, I was called upon to deputise for our manager and oversee operations whenever he was away.  I reached the level where I no longer felt sufficiently challenged by my current role and, keen to learn and develop further, it was clearly the right time for me to move onwards and upwards into a management role.

Areas of interest etc.

I am very interested in supporting students with mental health issues, as there does seem to be a greater number of these types of issues recently. In particular I enjoy supporting student suffering from severe anxiety disorders, these are classified as:

Panic Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

Post-traumatic stress Disorder

Social anxiety Disorder

Specific Phobias

Generalised anxiety Disorder

I have dealt with many students with these disorders and helped them to engage with their courses and succeed. I have a student graduating in July with severe Social anxiety disorder and he has just achieved a 2:1 degree, I am incredibly proud of him. 

Experiences / Learning points

What has been really valuable/ or made an impact

Understanding and having to accept that I cannot help everyone and that there will be people who do not seek or want help.

Finding a role that is challenging and rewarding that I thoroughly enjoy and that is different every day.

Current update

Attended the Aurora Programme in 2013/14.