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Staff profile: Kanika Chandra

Administrative Officer, Kanika Chandra, is firmly ensconced in the School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, where she juggles people and projects, and no two days are the same. She loves Indian cuisine, her favourite place is Bergen in Norway and she’s had more than a few encounters with celebrities including Francesca Gabor, Yasser Arafat and the celluloid Superman himself, Christopher Reeve.

Kanika Chandra, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology.
Kanika Chandra, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology.

Name: Kanika Chandra.

Title: Administrative Officer.

School: School of Psychology and Speech Pathology.

Campus: Bentley.

How long have you worked at Curtin?

Almost five years.

Where did you work prior to starting at the University?

The University of Western Australia, then I had a career break, then the Hyatt Regency Hotels, then the Taj Group of Hotels.

What do you like best about your role?

The diversity of my role keeps me motivated, as no two days are alike. I get to interact with various people, so I am learning each day. Also, I am fortunate that the people I interact with make it a pleasure for me to come to work each day.

Why did you choose your current career path?

I enjoy being part of something larger and making a difference. I love the flexibility of being in the stimulating University environment, surrounded by sociable, knowledgeable and caring people who have a moral conscience.

First job?

At the front office of the Taj Group of Hotels in India, my very first task was to welcome Yasser Arafat who was checking in to the hotel for a non-aligned conference. He hugged me and I was in shock!

Worst job?

Don’t remind me please – made Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada seem undemanding! Luckily it was a very brief stint, and I learnt how to be resilient.

Kanika with her husband, Atul, in Sweden.
Kanika with her husband, Atul, in Sweden.

What project are you currently working on and what does it involve?

I am always juggling multiple projects. Some recent and current projects include:

Coordinating school graduation events for students with alumni involvement

I liaise with school program directors and identify the purpose of the event. I discuss potential dates, finalise a budget with the Business Manager, Vicki Wilson, identify a suitable venue and make catering arrangements, liaise with alumni to discuss likely involvement at the events, look into options to design and distribute a flyer or card to graduates at the event, coordinate the possibility of inviting a Curtin graduate from the alumni community as guest speaker at the event, design invitations and send out invites to staff and students, and manage attendance and oversee the event on the day.

School Records project

The University Records and Information Management (RIM) team initiated a review of how records are managed at the school, which included potential risks, the first point of contact for school, liaison with the RIM team, identifying key school staff so that one-to-one meetings can be arranged with RIM staff, dissemination of information to staff, liaison with staff to identify and find storage solutions, liaison with interiors where necessary to relocate furniture, coordinating the RIM team to attend a staff meeting to cover general information.

Refurbishing school spaces

A recent project I completed was the transformation of one of our large research hubs, which was dingy and overcrowded, into a pleasant shared office where we can accommodate visitors, liaise with research staff, and source alternative office space for them, and arrange meetings with RIM to advise and assist staff with archiving, so that their research material can be stored and thus reduce the amount of storage space required in the workplace.

I liaised with Vicki Wilson and interiors to find a suitable layout for the room using existing furniture on a restricted budget, coordinated the relocation of staff and coordinated the refurbishment of the room with interiors. It was extremely rewarding to have the room transformed into a very pleasant office space.

Kanika with her husband, Atul, son, Akhil, and daughter-in-law, Amelia.
Kanika with her husband, Atul, son, Akhil, and daughter-in-law, Amelia.

Your favourite place in the world and why?

Bergen in Norway for its small town charm and atmosphere, clambering mountains, colorful wooden houses, amazing fjords and patriotic inhabitants who are proud of their history. The highlight was to have a private visit to the Edvard Grieg House, where the renowned musician lived, and being treated to a recital of his music by leading Norwegian pianist, Harvard Gimse.

Your favourite cuisine and why?

Indian – do you really wonder why! Actually I enjoy most cuisines!

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

Everything matters, but nothing matters as much. It is all a question of balance in life isn’t it?

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know?

In my early 20s I happened to spend some time in New York and Los Angeles. I went nightclubbing with Christopher Reeve, and was chummy with Francesca Gabor (Zsa Zsa Gabor’s daughter and Paris Hilton’s aunt). I didn’t realize who they were until much later!