Inside Working Lives

Careers

Thompson Zulu explains how he came from southern Africa to north Norfolk, and how UEA and the surrounding area tick all the boxes in terms of career, family and lifestyle.

Thompson Zulu

Head of Applications Support and Systems

Joined UEA in 2011 Originally from Zimbabwe

We love the seaside lifestyle, everything is very child-friendly, the schools are great and housesare great value. For people my age, with children, it just ticks all the boxes.

What do you do at UEA?

I look after the IT systems used by human resources, finance and other staff groups, plus the library system used by students.

How did you get here?

I've been an IT professional for 17 year, working in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa before coming to the UK with my wife, who's British, in 2004. We settled in Mundesley, a small village on the Norfolk coast – coming from Zimbabwe it was quite a culture shock! I worked at City College, Norwich and then at University Campus Suffolk before joining UEA as a developer and moving into my management role five months later.

Why UEA?

I was already living in Norwich and liked the area. At University Campus Suffolk we'd sometimes pop over to UEA to generate new ideas and on one of those visits I realised UEA was somewhere I could achieve my career and personal objectives, work for a larger organisation, handle things on a bigger scale, make use of my skills and enjoy more variety. I took a pay cut to come here but soon moved up to a position with a salary closer to my previous level. We have a fantastic campus here – as a keen photographer I love to take pictures of the landscape and wildlife around the Broad.

How's life outside work?

We fell in love with Norfolk. We love the seaside lifestyle, everything is child-friendly, the schools are great and houses are great value. For people my age with children it ticks all the boxes. Mundesley is very sociable – we know everyone and everyone knows us. My daughter has learned to surf, joined a choir and a drama club and taken up dance. My wife's a teacher and she found work within easy driving distance just days after we arrived. There's always plenty to do around the coast, particularly in summer, and coming from a young country like Zimbabwe it's fascinating to visit churches built centuries ago.

What about the future?

There are lots of opportunities to further your career here. It's a varied environment with lots of things happening – you don't feel restricted. I'll always work in IT but I could move to a different faculty and it would be almost like a career change – that's what I like about UEA, it gives you that flexibility.

What would you say to someone thinking about coming here?

There are many opportunities, many challenges and many chances to use your experience. It's a very varied environment and has a vibrant and cosmopolitan culture. It's an exciting place to work!

There are lots of opportunities to further your career here. And because it's such a varied working environment, with lots of things happening, it's easy to move on if you want to. You don't feel restricted.