• Collegiality


      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

  • Collegiality: Mentoring, Support, Friendship

    Many interviewees reflected on the role that collegiality had played in their careers. For some, the decision to pursue research was thanks to the supportive role a tutor had played early in their careers. Katja Graumann researched her PhD with Professor David Evans, who remains a support and mentor for her to this day; he supports her with grant writing and co-organising conferences with her.

  • Through all the stages my PhD supervisor at Brookes, Professor David Evans helped me to gain the skills, the confidence; really pushed me.

    Dr Katja Graumann, Cell Biology
  • Catherine Dilnot had been working at KPMG when, at the launch of the firm’s Oxford Office, she met former Brookes Professor Laura Spira, who encouraged Catherine to teach at Brookes as a guest lecturer. This slowly led to Catherine taking on more hours, and then again thanks to Laura’s encouragement, a move into research. Catherine’s research is now being read by the Department for Education and influencing policy. There are many such stories of academics at various stages of their careers, being encouraged by supervisors, colleagues or peers to take certain steps that have proved transformational. Dr Johnny Collett would not have become a researcher if his boss at Brookes, Professor Helen Dawes, had not encouraged him to take on a Research Assistant position.
  • Helen Dawes has probably been the biggest influence as she gave me the RA position.

    Dr Johnny Collett, Sport and Health Sciences
  • Meanwhile, Professor Christiana Payne was encouraged to aspire to Professorship by the warm letter of congratulation she was sent by the Vice-Chancellor upon attaining a Readership. The letter said: “I hope this will lead to further promotion” at which point she thought “Oh, could I be a professor?”

    As well as certain individuals playing a big part in some people’s careers, collegiality is also institutionalised at Brookes. Dr Ana Souza had found the buddy system, whereby a member of staff volunteers to offer informal, friendly support to a new colleague, extremely valuable in helping her to navigate the institution when she first started. Others felt a duty to help other colleagues through mentoring and peer support schemes. Professor Helen Walkington is passionate about the role that mentoring can have on a researcher’s career. Having just completed the Brookes coaching and mentoring qualification, she believes that it can have a transformational impact.

    Professor Anna Barnett, a clinical psychologist, wants to give back to her students some of the benefits she had accrued from having peers and colleagues look out for her career.

  • I do whatever I can to support students’ careers because I can see how important it [mentoring/support] has been for me.

    Professor Anna Barnett, Clinical Psychology