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Profile: Reija Fanous

Reija Fanous

Reija Fanous, Finance Bursar’s PA

Reija lived in various countries before settling in Oxford. Her favourite literary quote is from To Kill a Mockingbird: “It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.” In her profile, she discusses gardening, genealogy and the advantages of working from home!

What did you do before you started working at Univ?
I left my home country of Finland soon after finishing my studies and lived and worked in various European countries, with a short stint in the USA. I enjoyed careers in both trading and broadcasting. We came to England for one year 30 years ago!

How did you come to work at Univ?
We had recently moved from Bristol to Oxfordshire and I was temping in another college, when I saw the ad for the post of Estates Bursar’s Secretary as it was then. The job looked interesting and the prospect of working at Univ seemed exciting. I interviewed with Frank Marshall and was offered the post soon afterwards.

What does being the Finance Bursar’s Assistant involve?
There is a wide and varied range of administration in the Finance Bursary, for which I am responsible for: liaising with solicitors and land agents regarding property documents, managing tenancy agreements and property listings, organising meetings, to name a few. From time to time, with great assistance from Dr Robin Darwall-Smith, the Archivist, we need to research Univ’s property ownership details in the past, which is always interesting. Univ’s history ensures there are always unexpected twists. Early on, I found a letter in the safe from a former undergraduate: Percy Shelley! It happened to be uncatalogued, so it was a real find.

Do you have any funny stories from your time at Univ?
When I started almost 20 years ago, my predecessor was still carrying a ha’penny in the petty cash.

How have you found working at home?
I miss the camaraderie and the stimulation from meeting colleagues. However, the time saved in commuting is a real boon. Mornings are definitely calmer. So far, I have managed rather well, with occasional trips into College to consult documents, which are not available electronically.

What do you do in your spare time?
You cannot live in the English countryside and not get involved in gardening. I’m really more of a weeder and even then, I don’t always know what I’m doing. But I enjoy being outdoors immensely. I am fortunate to live in the country and have re-discovered the joy of local riverside walks during the past months. I’ve also caught the family history bug and have been able to trace one branch of my ancestors to the late 15th century. I’ve made contact with a large group of 2nd and 3rd cousins in the States through social media (we have now, of course, a Facebook family group).

Describe Univ in three words.
Friendly, fair, fun

Published: 8 February 2021

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