Leading Academics transcript

Leading Academics is a leadership development course open to all current PhD researchers at the University of Birmingham. It comprises eight 2-hour sessions over a three-week period and runs once a year. The course helps early career researchers to understand how they lead now and to discover their potential for the future. 

The Leading Academics learning environment is based on three key components: leadership stories and narrative; leadership theory and increasing self-awareness; and peer coaching. 

Inspirational speakers who are leading academics in their individual fields share their leadership and career journeys beyond the PhD, with regular guests including the Vice Chancellor and Professor Alice Roberts. Each speaker focuses on a key area, including senior leadership in higher education, leading in academic research, in public engagement, in consultancy, in policy-making and in business and industry. 

Matthew Ayibakuro, PhD Law: 'It was really useful hearing from the guest speakers. It was a bit overwhelming too, because the people who came on the programme were very successful in their fields and these fields were very diverse, so it had these huge experiences that you can only think or dream about, but in addition to that it was also very motivating, because seeing these people and realizing they’re actual academics who have gone on to very diverse fields and were able to create a good divide between their academic history and the positions they’re holding right now, so it kind of gives you the confidence that you can actually do as much they’ve done.'

Reflective practice and action planning are key strands throughout Leading Academics. Peer coaching in trios is introduced to strengthen this aspect of the course and to complement individual work. A short written reflective assignment is completed by each participant during the course. 

Marianna Cavada, PhD Civil Engineering: 'What I enjoyed most about Leading Academics is that it creates self-awareness to students and it gives you the opportunity to find your strengths and work more with them. What I found useful and I really enjoyed about the trios was sharing the experiences with my other colleagues that they might have some similar experiences or different background and I think it all added to the way that we find self-awareness and we explore ourselves and we get their experiences as well. I would absolutely recommend Leading Academics to other students'.

If you are interested in the next Leading Academics programme, please email ei@contacts.bham.ac.uk

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