Erin O'Grady, Grants Officer - East of England
What made you want to work at HLF?
I originally planned to go into conservation of the built environment, and got an MA in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University. But after I graduated, I moved to the UK, which made things difficult in terms of finding work. I volunteered and worked in museums – I was happy doing that but I wanted to get back to the conservation side of heritage. That lead me to HLF – there are so many different aspects of heritage here.
Can you describe your role?
I first joined HLF as a team assistant. I have been a grants officer for nearly a year.
My job is to assess the applications for funding, and to write case papers assessing them against HLF outcomes. Once the grant is awarded, I monitor the project and work as first point of contact for the grantees. Including Grants for Places of Worship, I’m working on about 65 projects right now.
“There are so many different types of project and types of heritage – it keeps it fresh and new.”
What does an average day at HLF look like?
I cycle to work so first of all I change and clean up a little! Then I’ll have a coffee and check my emails. I might spend time assessing an application, and writing or editing some case papers. There’s quite a bit of reading to do. The rest of the day will be spent fielding phone calls and getting back to grantees, with meetings sprinkled in on some days. Occasionally we have team training days where we will go on site visits; it’s a chance to see 3-4 projects in a day.
Do you need any particular skills or qualifications to do your role?
In our office, we all have different backgrounds – a lot of people have history or museums studies qualifications or natural/industrial heritage interests. But I wouldn’t say any specific qualifications were required.
It’s good to have strong attention to detail – it sounds like a cliché, but when you’re assessing applications it is important to be really thorough. And good written communication skills are important – you need to be clear and concise.
What is your favourite thing about working here?
Overall, the pleasant and supportive environment. We’re trusted to get on with our work and to use our best judgement. There are so many different types of project and types of heritage – it keeps it fresh and new.
What’s your favourite HLF project?
I don’t really think I have one– it’s like choosing your favourite child! They are all so different in scale or scope – I’ll have to pass on that one!
Which three words describe the working environment at HLF?
Supportive, friendly, focused.
And finally… what’s your favourite afternoon snack?
I have an extensive stash of herbal teas. And we have really good bakers in the office – we always have a cake.
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