Loves: Kirby and Attica (cats), Ben (husband), sport, gardening [order checked and verified]
Hates: flying, drivers not indicating, people not stacking supermarket trolleys
Favourite food: curry
Favourite film: All The President's Men
Most recent book purchase: RHS Latin for Gardeners – studied Latin at ‘A’-Level and still enjoys fathoming it Would like to have invented: Velcro, cling film, traffic cones.
Alison Whitehorn has been the UKSG Business Manager since April 2000 when she was persuaded, against her better judgment, to vacate the part-time UKSG Administrator role that she had held for just over a year.
Alison graduated from the University of Surrey with a degree in languages and economics which, with a complete lack of career planning, got her onto a management training scheme in the Metropolitan Public Health Division of Thames Water – that's sewers and sewage treatment – which proved absolutely fascinating, especially the time spent ‘down below’ on inspection work (‘infiltration at 10 o'clock, encrustation at 2 o'clock’). It was probably where she cultivated her eye for detail, and she also studied for a qualification in administration (now a Fellow of the Institute of Administrative Management). Jobs in retail research and marketing followed, and she was working as the Commercial/Administration Manager at the Association of Exhibition Organisers when, having moved from west London to a hamlet just outside Newbury and sick of commuting, she spotted an advertisement for UKSG.
In the BuM role, Alison sees herself as the jack-of-all-trades linchpin between all the various activities of UKSG. She is particularly involved in the organization of UKSG events and manages most aspects of the annual conference. There is huge satisfaction when it all finally comes together, the labour pains largely forgotten until the planning process starts all over again. Working from home is a bonus but, as with every job, there are some less enjoyable aspects – VAT for one, which has been the bane of her life in recent years.
On the leisure front, Alison enjoys watching all forms of sport, as well as thrashing around on the tennis court. Aston Villa is an abiding interest – she's really proud that her grandfather won an FA Cup medal with them in 1905. She loves getting absorbed in the garden, even just weeding, and enjoys discovering unusual plants to stuff into her north Hampshire jungle.
Alison would still like to have a crack at running her own empire but, as the business idea continues to elude her, UKSG is probably as close as she's going to get.