Five minutes with Fiona Courage: “It’s important to maintain your own values when balancing work and life”
Posted on behalf of: Internal Communications
Last updated: Thursday, 7 December 2023
Dr Fiona Courage, Deputy University Librarian is a member of the Library leadership team. Having worked at the Library since 1994, she is responsible for the strategic direction of frontline services, collections and content delivery. Fiona is also Curator of the Mass Observation Archive, based at The Keep. We caught up with her to find out a little more about her and what she loves about her role at Sussex.
When I was six years old I remember being very clear that I wanted to retire at 12. When I realised that was not going to be a possibility, I decided I wanted to be a teacher, and then a little while later, a museum curator. I’ve been lucky that my career at Sussex has enabled me to do aspects of both those things.
The one activity that makes me lose all track of time is walking on the South Downs. I live on the edge of the Downs in Lewes and am able to easily access the most amazing walks. I love the way that the landscape changes throughout the year and how walking on a familiar path can be so different depending on the weather or the season. It really helps me reconnect with nature and break away from the noisiness of everyday life.
I have been lucky enough to have some of the most inspirational female managers over the years who have helped me navigate my relationship with my career. Last year I had the privilege of presenting one of those women, Dorothy Sheridan, with her honorary Doctorate from Sussex. Working with Dorothy over the years taught me the value of leadership with kindness and how important it is to maintain your own values when balancing work and life.
My favourite aspect of my role is working with the Library team. We are a large team and everyone brings such different aspects and attributes to the job, which constantly amazes me. My colleagues’ dedication to what we do in the Library and for each other is definitely one of my favorite things at Sussex.
My favourite place on campus is on the first floor of the Library, looking out over the front steps and down to Library Square. Standing there, I am surrounded by a wonderful example of Basil Spence’s designs, looking out over the landscaping of trees and watching the bustle of university life moving through the Square.
The best piece of advice I have had is that good fortune comes when you grab every opportunity you are offered, rather than following a plan. It was given to me by a very elderly lady I visited many years ago to collect some Rudyard Kipling papers she was donating to the University. It has stood me in good stead for years.