997 days ago
Tom Martin knows all there is to know about the life of a Northumbria University student – it wasn’t that long ago he was one! It’s a background that makes him ideally qualified to be Sodexo’s student experience manager at the university’s flagship Trinity Square 993-bed student accommodation which Sodexo has run since August 2014.
Tell us a bit about your background Tom.
I’m originally from Manchester, and graduated from Northumbria with a degree in criminology. I decided to stay in Newcastle as I’d fallen in love with the place. I also started work as a special constable, through which I learned about an opening at Trinity Square when Sodexo took on the contract.
Is that how you started your Sodexo career?
Yes, initially I got a job as as a weekend security officer but before long the role extended to facilities support officer, then supervisor and, in February last year, I stepped into a breach to become interim student experience manager before taking on the role permanently. I also coordinate the security team’s night and weekend working and because I studied criminology, it all ties in.
What do you enjoy about it?
The beauty of the job is that you don’t know what’s coming next. One moment you’re organising a football tournament, the next dealing with an incident, perhaps a tiff between neighbours. A lot of what I do is acting as a peacemaker, sorting out disputes.
What qualities do you need for the role?
To be able to speak to students on their level. I’ve been a student here myself and I can give them genuine first hand knowledge and experience.
What are the challenges?
There is a lot of typical student behaviour and our role is to make sure it doesn’t go ‘over the line’. I was in student halls myself so I know the score and we will give them an inch but don’t expect them to take a yard. As long as you are fair and can justify your actions they can’t really argue with you.
How does your role improve quality of life for the students?
We’re here to improve the students’ environment. Even if someone’s got a maintenance issue, it’s impacting on their experience so it is something I need to know about and get involved in. One of the fun sides of the job is organising events and competitions and liaising with local businesses to come up with discount deals for the students too – things like cinema tickets, tickets to see Newcastle United and competitions to win food or gifts.
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