National award for student research

National award for student research

Sarah Snape, an OBBS postgraduate student, has won a national award for her research into women’s identity work in career coaching. Sarah was awarded the Bill Law Memorial Award for Student Research at the Career Development Institute Awards 2021.

Studying for a Doctorate in Coaching and Mentoring, Sarah is an APECS accredited coach, facilitator and speaker. Her thesis was focused on the identity work experienced by women as they face career choice and change.

Speaking of her research, Sarah says: “As an executive coach, I find that career choices and change, and the process of transition into a new role or situation, come up a lot in my sessions. We know that work-related change involves identity and identity work, but to date coaches have tended to approach career transition from a skills and performance perspective, rather than supporting the more fundamental issue of shifting identities. It seemed to me that identity and identity work needed to be part of a coach’s toolkit, so I set out to create an accessible coaching model which could support coaches in addressing this important area.

“Men experience identity work too, of course, but women’s experience tends to be far more complex and layered. We women have to navigate a gendered society, with all that entails, and also have to deal with issues related to our biology such as childbirth and the menopause.”

Sarah’s tutor Dr Judie Gannon, Subject Coordinator of the Doctorate of Coaching and Mentoring and Joint Deputy Head of Doctoral Programmes, says: “The International Centre for Coaching and Mentoring Studies team are truly delighted that Sarah Snape has been recognised with the Bill Law Memorial Award for Student Research. The award is super recognition of Sarah's Doctorate of Coaching & Mentoring research on womens' identity work and career transitions and it will certainly constructively inform coaching practice.”

Sarah spoke about the study experience at Brookes and how this supported her development: “I looked into several Doctorate offerings and really liked the fact that Brookes was offering a relatively structured programme. I am not a natural academic, and having been in the workplace for years, if I had just been left alone to get on with my research I would not have produced anything! I really enjoyed the monthly sessions (real and virtual, as it turned out), and benefited greatly from the support of my Doctorate peers, as well as regular encounters with all the tutors, in particular my personal tutor Dr Judie Gannon.

“I can hardly believe I pulled off a Doctorate, let alone winning the Bill Law Memorial prize from such a prestigious national institute. The most important part of my prize is the confidence it will give me to share my research findings through articles, lectures and webinars, something that is very much encouraged at Oxford Brookes.”

The Bill Law Memorial Award is named in memory of one of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling’s founders. The prize is offered annually for a student’s research to recognise rising stars in early career thought leadership. The Career Development Institute is the UK professional body for those working in career education, career information, advice and guidance, career coaching, career consultancy and career management.