Fast fingers for fifty years

16 January 2019

In 1969, a wide-eyed 17-year-old went for a job interview at The University of Queensland, and never left.

50th celebrationsEconomics Operations Officer Margaret Cowan remembers that day well, down to the outfit she wore: white skirt, blue top, white shoes.

“Mum came down on the train with me. Who would have thought I’d be here 50 years later?” she said.

Miss Cowan joined UQ on 2 January, and this year began her 50th year at the University, celebrating with a surprise morning tea.

Her first position was in the University’s typing pool, using her touch typist training on correspondence for different faculties and executives.

“It was good experience for someone fresh out of school,” she said.

In 1973 she accepted a position with the School of Economics, where she used manual and electric typewriters to transcribe lecture notes and research papers.

“It was a challenge because a lot of them do mathematical equations,” Miss Cowan said.

“When you finished typing a paper that only had about three words of English in it, the rest was all equations, you’d sit there and go: I typed that. There was real pride.”

Miss Cowan now works as an operations officer, keeping the School running smoothly.

“I enjoy the people here,” she said.

In her five decades at UQ, Miss Cowan has worked under seven vice-chancellors and nine heads of school.

“I think my work highlights are still to come,” she said.