Oluwaseun Alabi is Somerville’s Deputy Housekeeping Manager and a familiar face to generations of students – particularly during the ups and downs of lockdown. We took a moment today to catch up with Seun after she graduated with a high 2:1 in Business and Enterprise from Oxford Brookes.

Oluwaseun Alabi, Somerville’s Deputy Housekeeping Manager

Congratulations on your graduation – a fantastic result which is even more impressive given you achieved it while working full-time. How has it been juggling work and study commitments over the past four years?

Juggling work and study for the past 4 years was a big challenge. The hardest part was overcoming tiredness after work and trying to maintain a work/life balance. But determination and perseverance helped me stay focused on the outcome and carry on with my studies. To be honest, when I look back on the past 4 years, I do wonder how I made it through ­– but, thank God, I was able to finish.

I am also very grateful to my Line Manager, Teresa Walsh, and the entire Housekeeping team, for always believing in me – even when I seemed not to believe in myself. Teresa is an amazing mentor who always take pleasure in developing her colleagues, and I will be forever grateful to her and the team for supporting me on this journey.

Housekeeping was one of the frontline teams that kept College going during the pandemic. What was it like supporting our students during that very difficult time?

I see Housekeeping as the centre of Somerville college, because we are at the heart of students’ lives. We are mostly known to be cleaners, but we do so much more than cleaning. Our office is always open to students and staffs who come in for various requests and needs, so my department plays a vital role in enabling the whole community to make the most of their academic and personal lives. It was hard creating a safe and accommodating environment for students, staff and, latterly, guests under Covid-19 – but we were proud to be able to do it so well.

Who are your heroes, business or otherwise?

My business hero is Sara Davies (MBE), the Founder of Crafter’s Companion and member of BBC’s Dragon Den. She’s an inspiration to me: a woman of great passion who set up a business while at university and which is now a global brand. Her achievements and awards are outstanding.

In the world outside business, my heroes are the students whom I’ve met and befriended in my years of working at Somerville. I always admire their achievements; they’re ultimately what inspired me to take the bold step of becoming one of them.  

Do you have any favourite moments from your time at Somerville?

My favourite moments at Somerville are when you see students whom you remember arriving here as Freshers graduating to become valuable members of society. I always think of Somerville, like all the Colleges, as a tree with various branches that produce good fruits, and this always makes me happy and mostly think of my children, who I always pray to God to make them do well in their careers, too.

What are your plans for the future now you have your degree?

My future plan is not yet decided, but I would like to utilise the knowledge I’ve gained to have a positive impact wherever I find myself, both now and in the future. In the short-term, I am really looking forward to spending a little more time with my family. I also plan to continue reading and listening to the news, which I love because it helps me widen my knowledge of the world and understand how life can be simple but also delicate.

Further reading?

Spotlight on Somerville 4: Defending Ukraine’s Universities, Protecting the Pound and More

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The Long Read: An Interview with Professor Iyiola Solanke

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22 September 2022
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