Liz Mossop

Professor Liz Mossop is Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Engagement at the University of Lincoln. She says an early-career mentor set the tone for her on how to learn and teach.

Liz Mossop“I always loved animals, but I’m a people person and my mum used to say to me ‘if you don’t become a vet you can be a good social worker’. And I realised pretty quickly once I started working as a vet that, actually, a social worker is what you are in some respects, as animals are such an important part of our lives.”

Born in Lincolnshire, Liz trained in Edinburgh, where an early role model impressed on her the leadership style and belief in education that still inspires her today as a Fellow of the RCVS.

“As a student I did EMS placements at a small animal practice run by a vet called Viv Long, and she was incredibly inspiring. This was in the late 1990s, and I don’t think I clicked at the time how unusual it was to have a female practice owner in that position, because it was quite a substantial practice.

“She was just the most enthusiastic, engaging person, brilliant with clients, and I think that was when I started to realise that it was all about the people. She just had a veterinary degree, she didn’t have complex diplomas or anything like that, but she had such an amazing rapport with her clients. They were loyal to her to the end. The way she managed her staff and the way she treated her clients with such great respect and kindness was hugely inspiring to me.”

"Good leaders embed reflection in their day-to-day activities, always looking to lead more effectively and inspire others."

Liz saw in Viv a mentor who embodied all the qualities she would later seek to demonstrate to her own students.

“She led by example, and I suppose that was the first time I really saw that happening up close. I’m sure she didn’t realise this, but she very much ‘role-modelled’ those values and behaviours and I was overwhelmed by that experience. It was very inspiring.”

Moving down to Nottingham, Liz started teaching nurses when she was in her second job, as well as helping clients understand the conditions their animals might have. These combined to awaken a lifelong passion for education.

She did a Master’s and later a PhD in clinical education at Nottingham University, where she remained to join the faculty of the new vet school there.

Now she is at Lincoln overseeing student development across all departments, and it is the broad range of skills that the profession has given her that made this busy and far-reaching role a natural destination beyond day-to-day clinical practice or teaching.

“I think vets make good leaders because if you think about where our profession came from – farriery – it was hands-on, problem-solving, and that’s true to this day. We are a profession that has such a broad and diverse range of skills, we have to learn about multiple different species of animals and think on our feet to apply knowledge. And you have to know your own limitations and go and look stuff up, and ask others, when you need help.

“If I didn’t know the answer to something as a vet, I was always honest with my clients and I told them. But they also knew for sure that I was working my absolute hardest on finding out. You build trust that way. And that way, if the wind blows stronger and things get tricky, you have got a solid foundation of a relationship and people will trust you and believe in you.”

“I think vets make good leaders because if you think about where our profession came from – farriery – it was hands-on, problem-solving, and that’s true to this day."

Liz believes that the skills and relationship-building she learned, and was shown, as a young vet can translate across all fields of human interaction and learning.

“So now I have this slightly weird job where although I only directly manage a small number of people, I lead a huge number across the whole institution, and that works because of trust. I put trust in people and I hope and believe that they put trust in me. I will build a relationship with people and encourage them to try new teaching or learning techniques, do something a bit differently or take a bit of a risk, and they will be far more likely to do so because of a trusting relationship.”

Liz identifies another impact on her own leadership development: a firm belief in the power of education. “As leaders we need to learn how to lead. Some skills come more naturally than others, but there is always room for improvement, and good leaders embed reflection in their day-to-day activities, always looking to lead more effectively and inspire others. It’s only later in my career that I’ve seen how important this is, and it is something that many female leaders, I think, ‘role model’ very well.”

Professor Liz Mossop BVM&S PhD FRCVS, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Engagement at the University of Lincoln