Administrative staff development: for better campus internationalization and more

The University of Bordeaux is targeting administrative staff development as a key lever to successfully implementing its strategic plan for 2025, known as U25. This plan guides the development of our university within the all-encompassing domains of education, research and innovation.

  • 01/02/2019

Florina (UBx) with Evelien Hack, Internationalization Advisor (LUMC, Netherlands) Florina (UBx) with Evelien Hack, Internationalization Advisor (LUMC, Netherlands)

In 2017/2018, the Talent Management program that concerns both academic and administrative staff, was expanded and relaunched. Today, with a strong focus on international mobility initiatives, the administrative staff development module aims to further improve not only individual talent, but also internationalization at home and institutional efficiency.

With funding provided from external programs such as Erasmus+, and internal programs such as the University of Bordeaux “Initiative of Excellence” program, the new module supports individual and collective internationalization projects as a means of boosting professional development, encouraging the evolution of institutional practices, and facilitating organization innovation.

The administrative staff development career program

  • Individual projects: by sharing experiences and good practices with international partners, improve knowledge which can be used for the current position and / or in the context of career development.
  • Cross-functional team projects: by acquiring “outside the box” new skills and know-how from international experiences, help teams with their evolution process, organizational innovation and /or the development of new user services
  • Professional networks: by actively participating in leading European professional networks, strengthen the presence / influence of UBx within these networks

Focus on the cross-functional team projects

Particularly innovative and ambitious, this axe of the program is based on a development plan for a department. One or more (short-term) mobility experiences in European universities (exceptionally universities outside Europe), are proposed to several staff members who must collaborate on a joint project with the host universities. The project should last beyond the timeframe of the mobility period and aim to create sustainable best practice networks at a EU level.

The Director of the International Office, Ms Véronique Debord-Lazaro, recently presented at the AIEA conference in San Francisco on the topic of the University of Bordeaux administrative staff development career program along with partners National Taiwan University and the University of Tsukuba (Japan). Focusing on an example of a cross-functional team project, her presentation showed how an international mobility experience may facilitate the merger of two different departments. By exploring other organization models, analyzing alternative uses of tools and dashboards, and multiplying opportunities for teamwork, the international experience provides significant help in getting a cross-functional team ever closer.

Support and promotion

Staff that participate in the development career program receive extensive support from a cross-functional administrative team (International Office, HR, Strategic Planning and Projects, Change Management) in terms of: mobility preparation (language, intercultural communication courses), project design (objectives, planning, identification of host universities) and financial aid (mobility grants, registration fees, hosting costs).

In order to promote the program within the university and to encourage staff to apply, a number of tools that highlight the importance of international mobility have been developed, e.g. an “internationalization certificate”, integration in the yearly career interview, additional criteria for promotion opportunities.

Looking ahead

After a positive review of the first year of the program (2017/2018), with high quality applications and a significant number of cross-functional team projects, the challenges that have been identified for the future mainly concern:

  • How to evaluate the impact of the staff development career program – at an individual, team and institutional level?
  • How to promote the program as an attractive and important career initiative for our administrative staff?

As the second year of the program rolls out, these issues are being tackled with the development of specific key performance indicators and additional communication campaigns.


“Thanks to this mobility experience, I was able to discover the German equivalent of the 'Initiative of Excellence' program and how it is regularly re-evaluated”.
Marie-Laure Billet, Director of Scientific Resources and Affairs (mobility to the University of Tübingen, Germany)

“My mobility experience provided me with valuable best practices that were of immediate and concrete use to me in my job”.
Céline Thouvenin-Charron, Events Manager (mobility to the University of Seville, Spain)