• Work and home


      Work/life experiences of Brookes’ academics

  • Work and Home: Complementary Sides of a Full Life

    Work and Home lives are typically presented as in conflict: opposing and mutually exclusive options, where more of one will always come at the cost of the other. However, the picture that emerged during the interviews was far from this. Staff felt that, in fact, when one of these aspects of their life was going well, it would have a positive knock-on influence on the other. For Professor Christiana Payne, her passion for her work made her a happy mum.

  • Research has always been something that’s energised me, satisfied me and stimulated me, made me happy basically.

    Professor Christiana Payne, History of Art
  • For a number of colleagues, such as Professors Mary Briggs and Linda King, an academic career had meant that their children had opportunities to travel which would not have otherwise been possible, and that they remember as highlights of their childhood to this day. 

  • The children have benefitted from my travelling around. That’s given them the opportunity to see different things. Kenya was really very memorable. My daughter was quite little but she still remembers the Masai.

    Mary Briggs, Education
  • For Dr Sara Hannam, who also has to travel a lot for work, there was a different but equally positive picture. She found that these short trips away from her family enabled her to have a break from the demands of family life - making her refreshed and rested when she came back, perhaps even with a present for the family. And her children saw her absences as an opportunity to have some of the rules relaxed a little!
  • Even though I’m working really hard and need to stay on top everything, I’ve got the privilege of being my own person for that time I am away and having some space to relax and do things - things that I may not always have time to do at home.

    Dr Sara Hannam, Business & Management
  • Family life also extended beyond simply having a partner or children, with many staff having fascinating hobbies that occupied their time outside of the university. Ross Jordan is a stand-up comedian and Dave Carter used to be a competitive table tennis player!

    Whatever it was that kept colleagues busy outside of the university walls, it tended to benefit their job. Reflecting on the challenge of managing people, Linda says: 

  • That’s where having children helps! Learning to deal with children helps you deal with people and listen to everyone’s points of view. It’s never one sided.

    Professor Linda King, PVC and Virologist
  • Meanwhile, Ross Jordan recognises the aptness of the term “lecture theatre”. He borrowed some techniques from stand-up and sees similarities between this and lecturing:
  • There’s no greater reward or pleasure than enabling someone to laugh. In the same way that I think there’s an equal reward and pleasure in helping someone learn something about themselves […] a lot of entrepreneurship teaching is about helping people to understand themselves.

    Ross Jordan, Business & Management
  • These stories pointed to the complementary, rather than conflicting, nature of the work life relationship. They do not constitute a zero-sum game, but in fact are mutually reinforcing.