I’ve spent my whole working life in either student or researcher development, most of it (the last 16 and a half years) as a researcher development consultant. These years have been amazing and given me the opportunity to travel to amazing cities; to meet fascinating people doing fascinating things and to build a career around my strengths and enthusiasms. I feel that working in consultancy is a great career choice and my years as a researcher acted as a great foundation for the challenges of running a business. The flexibility it’s offered has enabled me to work on high quality and impact work whilst my children were young (mostly thanks to the support of my husband.)
Over these years I’ve been lucky (yes, I know I have strong words for women who talk about luck, but bear with me) to work on a number of projects which have had real impact in the field of researcher development. I’ve had long relationships with most of my clients and worked in partnership with them to develop their strategies and programmes to provide research students and staff with training and development that helps them to be effective now and in the future.
Despite this, for the last few years, I’ve been thinking about the next stage of my career and what I want to achieve. If you’ve been to one of my workshops, you’ve probably sat and pondered what I describe as most dangerous question to ask someone at work: “What do you want to be known for in ten years?”. A few years ago I asked myself this question and realised that the answer wasn’t to be a consultant, but to have made a bigger difference within one institution and to use this to influence the wider researcher development landscape.
I’m therefore delighted that after a fairly focused CV building campaign for the last few years, that from January 1st I’ll be the Head of Researcher Development at The University of Edinburgh, working in the Institute for Academic Development. I spent 6 months in IAD in 2014/5 and had a fantastic time developing ideas to better support the doctoral training cohorts which are increasingly important in the UK. My responsibilities from January will be to provide strategic leadership on researcher development for all research students and staff, supervisors and principal investigators. Most exciting for me is the chance to work with a great team and to collaborate with many of the people I’ve met at Edinburgh over the years.
So, from this point on I’ll be reducing the consultancy to operate on a very small scale, principally to meet the commitments I’ve made in this academic year. I hope that some of my clients will want to continue to work with me in my new role and that the change makes more things possible.
Thank you to everyone who I’ve worked with since 2000 and I hope we can find new things to do and new ways to work together. This site will continue to exist and once I’ve checked that the materials can be shared openly, I’ll be taking all the passwords off the different sections of the site and hope that the workshops, blogs and links that I’ve put together will be helpful for other researchers and researcher developers.
And if any of you find yourselves in Edinburgh, look me up! First purchase for my new office will be a coffee machine…