Leadership and future challenges

In my role as Director of the program, I think I am in a leadership position; and whether you like it or not, when you’re in a leadership position you are a role model for people. I am really conscious about that and so I try to make our processes consistent with what we say is important.

As the Director of the program I also have to manage the budget. As our research institute works on external billable projects, the postgraduates are actually listed on our ‘billable hours’ system, so I can check how supervisors are tracking their time with students and so on. We are testing it out as a model. Admin support has been variable. People who get allocated to do the admin support often have many other responsibilities and sometimes other things seem more important to them. It is mainly about the need for better record-keeping, for instance they come to the postgraduate meetings and take notes. I just need some time to focus on it and make that clear to the people that I need to get help from the admin team.

There is one thing that I don’t think I’ve done so well; we’ve learned an enormous amount and we got through the changes but what I haven’t done is to write about that. Our models have now been used in other projects but they’re not in the space that is meaningful to others. That’s one of the things I’m going to commit to in the first half of next year. I hope I will be able to hand over to someone else next year so I want to make sure that I’ve wrapped up all of the things that I’ve been part of to help with the handover. That’s another element of leadership, which is that you need to prepare well for succession.

Future challenges

I have been doing this role now for 10 years and I would like to see someone else take on the role and bring their plan to it. Other staff members have worked with me in developing the program but it is difficult when their personal and study circumstances mean they can’t contribute as much. This has meant I haven’t had the same degree of intellectual support in kind of developing things and taking things forward that I would have liked to have had.

I think the continuing challenge is to make the community something that people see value in. We’ve had an ongoing conversation with people who are further on in their programs they’re saying ‘oh there’s new ones coming in and they don’t want to be part of things, they won’t contribute’ and we’ve had that on and off for some time. I’m not sure whether it’s just about the life that we live these days where everybody, even our students, feel more and more pressured and short of time. Over time most people come around to contributing and this may depend on whether they are more or less oriented to being part of a community.

The process model that we have here brings it’s own sort of pressures. Everyone’s under lots of pressure these days and so making time for additional postgraduate things beyond supervision, making time for any kind of additional things, is an issue for people.


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