Staff Spotlight: Anya O Connor

International Marketing and Communications Offcer


Anya works for the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen's University Belfast in Northern Ireland. She is responsible for engaging new audiences for the University overseas and for attracting international students to campus. As an Arts graduate herself, Anya is passionate about the educational experience that the Faculty offers to students and is proud to speak about her home - Belfast - when meeting with partner institutions and prospective students from around the world.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory is of a work trip I took to India in 2013. I was there to meet with partner Universities and future students in Kerala and, as part of my trip, a student offered to take me on a tour of the backwaters near Cochin. It was one of the most spectacular trips I have ever taken. As we wound around the gentle waters and out towards the ocean at sunset, we passed families swimming in the river, wildlife and birds feeding at the waters edge and small fishing boats coming in from a day at sea.

I remember thinking that it was these invisible or unplanned moments in life that really mattered the most. Of the two weeks I spent in India that month, it was this one, spontaneous moment that stayed with me.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I have grown immensely during my time at Queen's. Working with some of world's leading scholars is inspiring. I was always well traveled and adept at the ambassadorial role that comes with working in international education but it has been an amazing experience to get to do that alongside poet laureates, human rights lawyers and policy experts. My understanding of the subject areas that I represent has matured a lot and I feel a genuine sense of passion when I get the opportunity to speak about the work that my academic colleagues undertake.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I'm a sucker for a good romance story and there are plenty of those at Queen's. We have had international students from different parts of the world meet during their degree programs with us and then come back to the University 5 or 10 years later to get married on campus. I think we are missing a great opportunity for a book: 'love stories of QUB'!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

That's a very difficult question as I'm interested in such a broad range of disciplines. The summer school programs that we run are brilliant and I often try to attend a day or two of the 4 week program - if I could find the time to attend the full program, I would.

Aside from that, I would love to undertake one the Masters programs offered in our conflict suite. Belfast is an amazing location to study conflict transformation and international relations so a graduate program in that area definitely appeals to me. Our MA in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice is one of the most international programs in the Faculty so is a great option for anyone interested in working in international development, politics or social justice.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

The University is unique for being ranked in the top 1% of Universities worldwide. We are also unique for being one of only two Universities in Northern Ireland- we offer our students a blend of both British and Irish culture on campus and that really appeals to anyone torn between a British University experience and an Irish cultural experience!

I'm proud of my team as we are traveling all over the world to act as ambassadors for both the University and Northern Ireland. We had an incredibly successful summer this year with our two international summer schools and I'm particularly proud of the work that is going on in summer programming in the Faculty- we have a few new summer schools in the pipeline!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The most important factor in being a successful University is keeping students at the heart of everything that we do. We are very student-facing at Queen's and understand the need to integrate all of our international students into the local community during their time in Belfast - that is something we do incredibly well and is why many of our students keep coming back over the years!