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      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

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      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

    • Banner 3

      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

    • Banner 4

      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

    • Banner 5

      MAKING A DIFFERENCE

      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

  • INTRODUCTION

    Making a difference: work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics celebrates the rich breadth of academic colleagues’ lives. Staff from all four of Oxford Brookes’ Faculties were interviewed about their professional trajectories, their lives outside Brookes and about what makes them tick. The range of experiences and stories collected was remarkable. Some colleagues have been at Brookes since they were undergraduate or PhD students. Others came from completely different overseas institutional environments. For others still, academia was a second - and in the case of Pro Vice-Chancellor Paul Inman - a third career.

    Not only was the diversity of backgrounds evident, but the interviews revealed a variety of home lives, which was universally considered not only necessary, but also an enriching counterbalance to their work life. Professor Helen Walkington is a beekeeper and triathlete; Professor Nigel Crook is actively involved in his church - playing in their music group, preaching and rolling out a course on discipleship. A number of colleagues who are also parents discussed how the skills learned through raising children - such as patience, people management and meticulous organisation - also translate into the workplace. They felt proud that they were role models for their children. Alison Honour, for example, relayed how her children would tell their friends: “My mum is a Professor” and Mary Briggs described how her daughter, on a recent trip to a bookshop, had pulled out a copy of one her many books and jokingly asked her to sign it! In this way, it became clear that there was a positive feedback loop between colleagues’ work and home lives - with each one enabling and enhancing the other.

    Alongside this richness of experience, some common themes also emerged from the interviews. “Making a difference” was a key motivator for many staff. For some, this was about producing research that could be applied in a practical context, whilst for others this came through teaching. Lots of interviewees mentioned, as a highlight of their work, witnessing the “moment when it clicks” for a student while teaching. Making a difference also extended to helping colleagues. Many staff discussed their positive experiences (formal and informal) of being mentored, and were keen to lend a similar hand of support to junior colleagues to support their careers.

    The stories here reflect just a few of the heterogeneous experiences contained within Brookes. They evidence the various routes that can be taken into academia, and each end with their advice to someone embarking on this journey, hopefully inspiring a future generation of individuals who wish to pursue academic careers. They also highlight how diversity is an essential part of a successful university research community and that without the range of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives we see here, Brookes would not be the dynamic place that it is.