Spotlight on… team convening

Posted on: 19 February 2024 by Carlee Gilbert in 2024

Carlee Gilbert
Carlee Gilbert

Carlee Gilbert works at the University of Liverpool in the Strategic Planning Insights Team as a Data Analyst. Here she tells us about her experience of team convening and how working collaboratively brought benefits to a project.

Carlee’s experiences align with the insights we have gained through our Thrive workshops. These insights have helped us co-develop our draft Thrive principles to encourage collaboration, inclusivity, diversity and innovation in research. 

As part of the University’s strategy, we want to be a Top 100 Global ranked university by 2031. To help achieve this, the Strategic Planning team developed a project team to lead on improving the University’s QS World University Ranking.  


One of our main tasks was to develop insights and build ways to improve our rankings. We were a new but diverse team with various skills that were of great significance to this project, but from the beginning, it was evident that QS was not just a one team job.


The information gathering and promotional work needed for us to achieve any positive shift in our ranking score was huge and was something we couldn’t do on our own, we needed to work collaboratively with colleagues from across the University.  


We decided the best way forward was for the project team to work on both a team and individual level. Each member of the team took on a different thread/element of the project and became the lead for that particular area.  


We then connected with departments/colleagues from across the University who would be able to help us achieve our individual and team goals. The project allowed us to build working relationships with teams and individuals that we would never normally connect with, including academics, Research, Library, Partnerships, Business and Management School, Engagement and Relations.  


Being able to communicate how vital cross-departmental working was to the success of the project definitely helped us to bring people on board. We appreciated every colleague had their individual workload so to add more work could be a challenge, but every single piece of advice, data, and time was genuinely received with gratitude.  


I believe having an end goal helped us to gain genuine interest and support from colleagues outside of the project team. Obviously, there’s always going to be some resistance, but we were very clear with our focus and objectives and that clarity helped us reach teams more effectively. 

Also, our ethos and intention throughout the project was to be friendly and to tell colleagues how much we appreciated their expertise and their time.  


It was also really important that we set aside time to meet regularly as a team. This enabled us to make sure everyone was kept in the loop and up to date with project developments. It also gave us the opportunity to share our successes and to talk about and discuss any challenges.  


We also agreed it was really important to check-in with colleagues from the different departments to give feedback or progress reports, or sometimes we just checked in with a quick progress check and to say ‘hi’. 


As a University, we can provide QS with up to 400 external academic names who can recommend us. Previously, the team struggled to provide QS with the full quota. For our recent QS submission, we were able to provide 400 academic recommendations with some to spare for next year’s QS submission. To compare, the previous year we submitted 283 recommendations, so this was an amazing achievement.  


As a team we are now in consolidation and reflection mode. We are reviewing the last eight months to see where and how we could improve cross-departmental working in the future.  


For me, if I could use three words to describe cross-departmental working, they would be: amiability, clarity, and respect.