Athena Swan in SHW

Professional services staff career journeys

Head of Professional Services in School of Health and Wellbeing, Asha Costigan, shares her 26-year career journey within University of Glasgow, and experiences and opportunities that have allowed her to steadily progress.

Photo of Asha Costigan with her parsons russell dog Rudy

I did have a previous working life prior to UofG – in the NHS, a sports centre, a computer software development company. Then I took maternity leave and once my children started nursery and primary school, I was lucky enough to find the perfect two days a week grade 3 admin post, working on Prizes and Scholarships in the Senate office here at University of Glasgow, to ease me back into work.

After a couple of years, I successfully applied for regrading to grade 4 (I had taken on further responsibility and introduced some new processes).  As the kids grew up and were in school for longer periods, I was able to start increasing my hours.  I was offered some extra hours working for the Head of the Adam Smith Business School (ASBS).

I applied for a grade 5 post in the Vet School where I stayed for a year, and then moved sideways to Public Health, within what was known at the time as Community Based Sciences (CBS).

While I was working in Public Health I realised that to meet the criteria for higher grade posts I would have to get further qualifications so I studied for a PG Certificate in Business Administration, which I completed at the ASBS.

To gain more experience, I took the opportunity of a part time maternity leave cover (grade 6) in Research and Enterprise, working on project costings (project approval forms or PAFs) for principal investigators (PIs) which I already had experience of from the PI side, but now had the opportunity to do so from the R&E side (which was invaluable). I continued working as a grade 5 in the Healthy Working Lives Research Group in Public Health, Community Based Sciences (CBS).

I was still doing these two jobs when I successfully applied for a part time post as joint Head of Admin (grade 7) in CBS but, as it was part-time, I continued with my grade 5 post.  I applied for a regrading to my grade 5 post but was unsuccessful and, like anyone who has experienced that, it’s hurtful and hard to understand when you think you’re meeting the criteria and have spent so much time completing the application. It became difficult to balance two part time jobs, and I was fortunate that I was able to increase my hours in the grade 7 post to allow me to give up the grade 5 post.

During MVLS re-organisation CBS became the Centre for Population Health Sciences. Then in 2012 we became the Institute of Health and Wellbeing when we doubled in size (with the addition of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and our College of Social Sciences colleagues), and I became full time Head of Administration.  A few years later I successfully applied for a regrading to grade 8.  With another re-organisation of MVLS in 2022 we are now the School of Health and Wellbeing. 

I have regularly taken opportunities for training on university courses, joining ARMA (Association for Research Managers and Administration) and then AUA (Association of University Administrators), and have been on the Advance HE’s leadership development initiative for women, called Aurora.

I’m not a particularly ambitious person and throughout my career at UofG (26 years) my motivation has been to provide for family.  I didn’t "love" all my posts but I was learning different things in each one. I really enjoy what I’m doing now in SHW – working on Athena Swan brought a completely new dimension to my role, and who’d have thought I’d have the opportunity to be involved in the planning and organising of a new building for SHW?! I’m fortunate to work with a fantastic group of people who are very supportive and, like many women, still get the imposter syndrome feeling! 

Asha Costigan
Head of Professional Services/Clarice Pears Building Manager
School of Health and Wellbeing