Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.
Job Title and Company: Research Strategy and Policy Manager (Research Analysis), University of Leicester
Approximate salary range for your type of role: £40k-£49k
I trained and worked as a librarian for several years before I started my Information Studies PhD in Sheffield. The things which appealed to me about library and information services (LIS) work included curiosity, a fondness for trying to track down answers to difficult questions, a capacity for close attention to detail, creative-thinking and a strong interest in helping people to find the information they need and to use it effectively. The library and information profession includes an increasingly wide variety of roles, including in data management and analysis and knowledge management. If you’re interested in a LIS career, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals can provide useful information.
Part of my motivation for doing my PhD was a strong belief in the importance of research in practice, as demonstrated through evidence-based practice, and wanting to use the opportunity to contribute to the profession. As my studies were closely related to my professional background, I always knew that I would be looking to go back into library and information work after finishing my PhD. I also worked part-time during my course in an information service, keeping up my professional skills and learning more about health information.
As I came towards the end of my PhD, I was keen to gain management experience and so I applied for a role as Library Operations Manager in an acute NHS trust. I applied for the role via http://www.jobs.nhs.uk although this and similar roles are often advertised on http://www.lisjobnet.com and on JISCmail lists (LIS link is a good list to join if you’re interested in / already working in LIS). I’d previously mainly worked in Higher Education, so the organisational differences (and particularly the financial pressures) of the NHS were very new to me. The core aim of our service was to provide the best available evidence to support patient care, and I worked closely with colleagues on a number of key projects, from expanding the clinical librarian service, to streamlining the literature search request service and managing a library refurbishment project. I enjoyed managing a team, supporting and facilitating the development of others, whilst working closely with senior managers to develop strategy and to improve our services. I developed good working relationships with internal and external stakeholders, including education committees, academic library services with which we worked and publishers and vendors.
After two years in that post, I moved back into Higher Education with a post at the University of Leicester. Again, LIS jobs in HE are advertised on http://www.lisjobnet.com and the maillists, as well as on http://www.jobs.ac.uk. My first post at the University was as an information specialist in the Research and Enterprise Division and more recently I’ve successfully applied for a post of Research Strategy and Policy Manager, with a focus on data analysis. Both of these roles build more on my information management and data analytics skills, in contrast to the library focus of my previous roles. My work at Leicester includes collating and managing data about research and enterprise activities, returning information about these activities to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), providing management information including through developing dynamic dashboards and contributing to analysis of previous REF performance to inform planning for REF 2021. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn new skills in using tools such as Tableau for data analysis, and recently participated in a JISC-HESA business intelligence project.
Many of the skills which were most useful to me in this role were closely related to those I’d developed during my PhD. Time-management, project management (really learning to love Gantt charts!), handling and analysing large amounts of data are key skills which certainly improved through the PhD process. Alongside that, creativity, flexibility and practical problem-solving are also all skills which I’ve continued to develop throughout my career and in my PhD.
What professional/accrediting bodies, or qualifications are relevant to where you work? Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. Association of Research Managers and Administrators.