Jen Dowdeswell is the Manager, Organizational Development and Learning for SHCS. Part of our HR team, she is responsible for numerous initiatives aimed at making SHCS a stronger and more effective service provider and an even better place to work.

These initiatives include the SHCS People Plan, new leadership and development programs for managers and supervisors, new onboarding and professional development courses for staff, the Not Myself Today program in SHCS, and many more.

Jen’s role in the 5-year plan

Jen played an instrumental role in the development of the 5-year plan, working with the SHCS Senior Leadership Team to guide the planning process, provide guidance on its format and contents, keep the project on track, and support Andrew Parr, AVP, SHCS, in bringing all the threads of the departmental plans together.

Q&A with Jen

To help provide insight into the plan’s development, what it’s all about, and what it means for SHCS staff, we asked Jen the following questions.

First off, what is a five-year plan?

A five-year plan is a roadmap to help a business or organization get to a particular destination within the five-year period.

What that means is we have a specific vision and mission, along with goals and commitments, we want to achieve. A five-year plan lays out the route for getting there.

Why do we need one?

Without a five-year plan, our purpose and intention are less defined, which means not everyone knows where we’re going. This lack of clarity can lead to decisions or actions that don’t support broader goals or even work against each other.

In short, a five-year plan helps keep us all on the same route, heading for the same destination.

I should add that like all good road trips, we’ll probably discover new opportunities, along with unanticipated challenges and obstacles along the way, so we already know that over the plan’s life we’ll need to shift or adjust it in response.

How did the idea for our plan originate?

The idea for the plan arose out of our work developing the People Plan, in talking with staff across SHCS who were looking for a clearer common purpose for everyone in SHCS.

I should clarify that while this plan focuses on Vancouver operations, a similar but separate roadmap is also being developed for SHCS at UBC Okanagan.

“While there are a wide variety of ways we expect the plan will benefit our students, the UBC community and our workplace, they are best summarized by our vision statement: cultivating community, inspiring wellbeing and enriching lives.” — Jen Dowdeswell, Manager, Organizational Development and Learning, SHCS

How was it created and who was involved?

Following the launch of the SHCS Vision and Mission, the Senior Leadership Team, under Andrew Parr’s leadership, began developing their departmental mission statements and strategic plans, including three-year plans and five-year aspirational goals.

Drawing on the departmental plans, Lisa Fisher (Director, Marketing and Communications), Andrew Parr and I developed the plan’s executive summary, bringing the threads of each individual plan together to communicate our shared purpose.

Following that, Marketing and Communications pulled all the content together into a cohesive format, which was shared with the SHCS Senior Leadership Team and Ainsley Carry, VP, Students, for final review before we published the plan.

How is it connected to UBC’s other strategic plans?

One of our big goals was to ensure our direction supported UBC’s strategic plans as much as possible. With this in mind, the Senior Leadership Team dove deeply into each UBC plan and identified ways that we could contribute.

You can find a summary of how we’re supporting UBC’s plans on page five of the 5-Year Plan, with further detail embedded in each departmental plan.

Infographic showing SHCS Contributions to UBC Strategic Plans

Infographic from page 5 of the SHCS 5-Year Plan

How does the plan respond to other changes affecting our operations?

There are many ways that economic and market forces, growth and change in the Lower Mainland, transforming technologies, and the impacts of the climate crisis, among many other factors, might affect our operations.

You’ll see these types of factors addressed in each of the department plans, starting on page six.

Can you elaborate more on the plan’s four themes?

The four themes that arose out of the departmental plans were:

  • People
  • Sustainability
  • Renewal and growth
  • Innovation and digital transformation

These themes speak to the common aspects of our work over the next few years, but I also think they reveal a great deal about our common values in SHCS.

What is one action staff can take to support the plan?

I’d like to offer three, if that’s alright.

  • Review the plan: take some time to read the summary and your department’s plan.
  • Talk to your manager or supervisor: let them know if you have any questions about the plan, about how to get involved, or if you have an idea to share.
  • Continue to provide great service and support: the best way to support the plan is to keep delivering the best service and support possible.

How will we stay on track over the five-year period?

The SHCS Senior Leadership Team will be reviewing our progress annually to measure progress and update the plans to account for emerging needs and new opportunities.

We’ll provide staff with progress updates at key milestones over the five-year period.

In 2027, how will we know if we’ve achieved our goals?

Through our regular reviews, a final five-year review process, feedback from students, staff, campus partners and UBC leadership, and formal reflection on the transformation in our services and workplace environment from 2023 to 2027.

View the plan

Visit the plan to learn more about how we’re going to address challenges, pursue our vision and mission, achieve our goals, and support UBC’s strategic plans from 2023 to 2027.