Sue Henderson

Sue Henderson

Executive Assistant


photo of sue Henderson with a bunch of flowers

I am Sue, Executive Assistant to both the Head of Department and the Head of Administration. I originally studied geography at the (then New) University of Ulster in Coleraine, County Londonderry, during the 1970s when ‘the Troubles’ were still at their height. Having worked for a local solicitor, I then joined the Crown Prosecution Service and worked my way up through local administration to become a forms designer at the CPS headquarters in London. I then moved (via the Oxford Exam Board) to work for the University of Oxford, first in the History Faculty before joining the Department of Chemistry as Executive Assistant in 2011.

My current role

As Executive Assistant I am lucky enough to be involved in many projects and events that help to make the administration of the Department run efficiently. I help to organise the main Departmental meetings – the Chemistry Management Board and the Departmental Committee, among others. I have also helped to organise other events for the Department including the Chemistry Careers Conference, Anti-Bullying Week, and Mental Health Awareness Week. I am passionate about inspiring people to look after their wellbeing and achieve their potential.

Since the time when I was researching my dissertation for my degree, I have always been interested in environmental issues and was really pleased when I was able to be part of, and then lead, the small team that spearheaded environmental sustainability issues as part of the Green Impact Team in the Department. The team has achieved many awards; in 2015 I was pleased to have been awarded the Green Impact Staff Award and speak about our achievements to the Award ceremony attendees (including the Vice Chancellor) in 2016. I hope to be able to continue this success in the coming years.

My forms design background has meant that I am really interested in communications, and I am pleased to be able to further this by producing the weekly newsletter, which I circulate to all staff, DPhil and Part II students every Friday. I also look after the Departmental Twitter account @OxfordChemistry and the Green Impact account @OxChemGrnImpact, and love to watch the number of followers rise and know that I am connecting with people all round the world.

I do enjoy being involved in the organisation of events and have been lucky to be part of many: the Reviews of Chemistry, the academic Away Days, as well as helping with alumni and public engagement events. One of these was the Royal Society Summer Exhibition in 2013, when I was a small part of the team supporting some amazing chemists who exhibited their research for a great week at Carlton House Terrace, London, with the exhibit ‘Solving the energy crisis – from ancient to future solar fuels’. We had great accommodation in Baker Street, which meant early runs around Regent's Park hearing the animals in London Zoo waking up, and it meant we could walk daily across London to the exhibition. As part of the exhibit we had an iPad Tree and I, and some of the team, knitted flowers which we had growing up the Tree as part of the display.

Knitting leads me to another item that I have created with colleagues – the knitted periodic table which was made for the International Year of the Periodic Table alumni and public engagement events. Many people will have watched this evolve in the CRL Atrium where we met daily at 10.30 to talk knitting, crochet, and drink coffee.

Knitted periodic table in different colours

Other interests

I have mentioned a couple of my interests - I enjoy running and walking, as well as knitting and crochet. I am a parkrun ambassador, and Event Director for Didcot parkrun, which is something I am passionate about. I love inspiring people to take exercise… it makes such a difference to them. I also love wildlife and enjoy photographing it, and am always trying to improve my photographic skills.