Archives for posts with tag: beyond the academy

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.

@musicedsolution @DrLizStafford

Job title and company: Director, Music Education Solutions® Limited

Approximate salary range for your type of role: Ha! When you own the company, anything from £0 to £onehundredtrillion!

E Stafford.jpgI never meant to do a PhD. I arrived at Sheffield for an MMus interview, thinking I would use that to pass the time while my voice matured enough for me to gain a place at music college. At interview I was offered a full scholarship if I applied for an MPhil leading to PhD rather than the MMus, and that was that!

I really enjoyed doing my PhD, but due to the fact that I had never intended to do one in the first place, I was still really focused on my ‘end goal’ of becoming a professional singer. My PhD was in Performance Studies, so it was contributing to this, but I knew that I would also need to move to London and study at music college if I were to be successful.

After my PhD I moved back home to Birmingham to work as a teacher for a year while I auditioned for, and saved money towards the fees for, music college. I was awarded a place at Trinity College of Music in January, to start in September. At this stage I had only done a term of teaching, and I was still really focused on my career plan, but once I had secured my place and was able to clear the fog a bit, I noticed that I was really enjoying my teaching work more than I had expected to.

In September of 2003 I moved to London to start at music college but quickly realised I had made a horrible mistake! Being one of life’s over-achievers (hello, unintentional PhD!) I chose to stick it out rather than admit my mistake, and after graduating the following June, moved straight back to Birmingham and resumed my old life!

Four happy years of working as a peripatetic teacher for Birmingham Music Service followed, during which time I completed a part time PGCE to make myself an officially qualified teacher. I loved working as a teacher, but the hours were long, and the financial rewards scant. There was no career progression available in my role, so I looked around for a change. I had already been involved in mentoring other teachers by this point, and was really lucky to apply for and be appointed to the leadership team of the KS2 Music CPD Programme, a government funded national training scheme for music teachers.

The KS2 programme was only funded for 3 years, and I quickly came to see that something would be needed to replace it, so I established Music Education Solutions® to fill the gap once the programme ended. I slightly undermined my own plan by having a baby just as the KS2 programme closed (!), but by 2013 I was up and running with my own company.

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Music Education Solutions® provides consultancy services to the music education sector, and as director I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the company as well as our strategic direction. As we are a small business, I also deliver a lot of our work personally, so my days can vary from being in the office looking at our social media accounts, to flying out to lead training in another country!

One of my personal missions is to support and develop other women, so our roster of consultants includes a large number of women, many of whom are in the early stages of their career. I am also committed to diversity within the workplace, but music education is a very white, middle class dominated sector, and I have found it difficult to make my workforce as diverse as I would like – this is definitely still a work in progress for us.

One of the perks of being the boss is that if I don’t want to go to the office, I don’t have to, so I often work from home. For a working mum, this is a godsend, as it means I can get a wash on, and the tea in the oven at the same time as making conference calls and planning our strategic vision!

No week is the same for Music Education Solutions® so I could literally be anywhere, doing anything, from one day to the next. As I write this blog I am contemplating my next working week, which involves trips to Birmingham, London, Leeds and Belgium! And last week I spent 3 days in the Channel Islands, which I am not for a minute going to complain about!  We are currently working on two big projects creating music teaching materials for primary teachers. One of these involves a user-testing study, so my accidentally acquired research skills are being put to good use!

Running a small business requires you to be a jack-of-all-trades, and I feel that my PhD experience prepared me really well for this. With a PhD you have to work out how to do everything yourself – yes you can get advice from others, but it’s fundamentally up to you to make the magic happen. PhD researchers develop discipline, independent working, presentation skills, written communication skills, and tenacity which are invaluable skills in an entrepreneurial role. As a company offering consultancy, we are often asked to research projects for our clients, and it has quickly become clear to me that this is one of the easiest ‘sells’ for our company, since no-one except researchers really understands how to carry out research!

At the moment we are at a really exciting time as our company turns 10 in 2018. We have lots of celebrations planned, and are looking forward to looking back on how far we have come in a decade! Coincidentally in the same month that the company turns 10, I have a ‘big birthday’ myself. I have joked to my colleagues that creating a business from scratch takes so much out of you, that really it’s not fair to count those years, so I’m looking forward to turning 30 again in June!

Where can researchers look for jobs like yours? Create them yourself! But the Arts Jobs website gives a good indication of what projects and services are frequently required.

What professional/accrediting bodies, or qualifications are relevant to where you work? A PGCE is a must if you want to be taken seriously in (schools) Education.

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: Waste Package Specifications and Guidance Manager for Radioactive Waste Management Limited.

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £35-45k

DSC_0476_12.JPGAfter finishing my PhD I found myself in the same situation that many others do.  Feeling on top of the world, unstoppable and highly employable but my first job, the only job I could get, was waiting on tables at corporate events.   This is where I bumped into a friend from hockey whose table I was waiting on, “what are you doing working here?” he said, knowing full well I’d just got my PhD.

Feeling worthless and betrayed by a society that didn’t appear to value anything I could offer gave me the resolve and determination to keep trying for better things and never give in (lesson number 1).  Following this short term job, I managed to get an internship at the RSC thanks to a friend who worked there for 4 months (lesson 2 use your contacts and socialise your needs, people are usually more than happy to help you).

I then worked at BAE systems as a contractor for 3 months in a very interesting job as a failure analyst. Finally I was earning decent money and felt that I was in a role fitting of my ability.

Whilst this year of odd jobs was going on I had a joint grant application in with my PhD supervisor, which to our surprise we got and secured me work for the next 3 years.  I took it, despite BAE wanting to keep me on, as I was hoping to push up the TRL (technology readiness level) of my PhD research, (lesson 3 better to regret trying something with good intentions than to regret not taking the opportunity).

At the end of my postdoc and having had enough of research, I was looking for a change which had many opportunities for growth and wanted scientific skills.  I decided that the nuclear industry was the way forward.  As of January 2017 I am the new Waste Package Specifications and Guidance Manager at RWM Ltd.  Essentially I write and look after the specifications and guidance which tell organisations how to package the UK’s nuclear waste safely.

My role involves many things such as writing technical specifications for pieces of work that contractors would bid on, overseeing document development, people managing, writing new technical specifications and guidance and getting the correct people in to help.  There are also a lot of other smaller roles such as stakeholder management which take up a significant portion of time.  It’s a somewhat diverse and challenging role which is good in my book.

Essentially I sit at the bottom of the pile in the organisation but I have to take all of the company’s knowledge, bundle it up in a usable and informative way and communicate it to waste producers so that they package their waste in a safe and compatible way.

I spend a lot of time interacting with nuclear site licence companies (i.e. Sellafield and Magnox), regulators, the environment agency, contractors who help produce a lot of the documents and colleagues within RWM.

Right now I am leading the redevelopment of the entire suite and structure of the specifications and guidance documents (currently sitting at 60 documents and 2000 pages of text).  This involves taking a holistic view of all of the information in the documents, seeing how it all fits together, reorganising it and communicating it to our varied audiences in a more user friendly way.

It’s very different to research.  You get better pay and working conditions but it’s a difficult transition between having the freedom and flexibility to be creative to come up with the best thing since sliced bread and the bottom line of just having to get things done sometimes.

A PhD is definitely recognised in my role and valued; views that I had largely found to be otherwise lacking in the job market when looking for work.  I think the high regard that technical skills are held in by RWM is true of the industry as a whole. My current project is difficult, often without any clear cut answers and requires a diverse range of technical and soft skills.  Skills a PhD tends to instil into you.

I’m quickly learning that careers are a funny thing and that whilst everyone has advice on what you should do, so far I’ve found that the best thing to do is what’s always been right for me at the time.  Following my interests, or gut feeling, hasn’t always led to money but at least the journey has never been dull and I’ve felt much more fulfilled as a result of it.  I’ll close by saying: be open to opportunities, remember that serendipity is a large determining factor in “success” and, whilst money is nice to have, it’s only good for paying the bills at the end of the day.

Where can researchers look for jobs like yours? https://rwm.nda.gov.uk/vacancies/

What professional/accrediting bodies, or qualifications are relevant to where you work? The Nuclear Institute, and the Royal Society of Chemistry.

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 Development Manager (Policy and Performance), Sheffield Hallam University

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £39,000-49,000 (lecturer equivalent on the national university pay spine)

fildes.pngI finished my PhD in History in spring 2009. Towards the end of it, my focus was really just on finishing, not what was next. A week or so after I submitted, I started looking for jobs. I was never really interested in an academic career – I enjoyed my PhD but had no vocation for teaching and was aware of the ultra-competitive and precarious routes into research in my subject area. I therefore applied for quite a range of jobs – sounding interesting and my broad salary expectations were my only criteria. Read the rest of this entry »

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: Senior Research Scientist, Cell Assay Development, AstraZeneca

Profile pic.jpgI did my Undergrad in Biology with a year in Industry. Initially I didn’t want to do a placement in Industry so did my year at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew working on the genetics of a particular plant genus. Following my final year undergrad, I did not feel that I wanted to do a PhD, so I looked around at what types of careers I could do and got excited about forensic science (FYI I have never watched CSI!). Read the rest of this entry »

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: Principal Scientist, Cobra Biologics Ltd

FullSizeRender.jpgI work as a Principal R&D Scientist at Cobra Biologics, a contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) based in Keele, Staffordshire. I was hired as a senior Scientist in October 2016 after 6 years of postdoctoral research, so I still feel relatively new to the industry world with plenty of room to learn. Read the rest of this entry »

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: Assistant Director of Academic Services, The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £42k-£60k

amy moore.jpgI studied for my PhD at the University of Bristol in the Colorectal Tumour Biology Group and completed it in Spring 2009. After that, I took a postdoctoral research position working in paediatric cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).  I spent a year working on brain tumours before I made the move out of the lab and into researcher development. I spent six years building the researcher development programme as part of the Learning and Development Team, and in 2016 I moved into Academic Services, Read the rest of this entry »

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: Independent Consultant in Research Commercialisation and Intellectual Property

Stuart Fraser.jpgMy PhD taught me a lot. It taught me project management. It taught me self-sufficiency. It taught me how to survive on my own with absolutely no support. It taught me that academia can be ruthless and cynical. Frankly, it wasn’t for me. But when you are a 24-year-old with expertise in a field that is of interest to almost nobody within 3000 miles of where you live, you also learn how to make compromises. Read the rest of this entry »

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: Stakeholder Management Coordinator, Science and Technology Facilities Council  @RDscience @STFC_Matters

Approximate salary range for your type of role: £30-33k

I did my PhD as part of a Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Birmingham, and this gave me an introduction to public engagement. I really enjoyed it and, throughout my PhD, I took lots of opportunities to try new ways of communicating my research.

Read the rest of this entry »

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: Senior Managing Editor, British Dental Journal (@The_BDJ) and BDJ Open, Springer Nature

Approximate salary range for your type of role: ~ £35 to £50k. Starting salary in scientific publishing: around £27-32k depending on role level

Ruth Doherty headshot.jpg Read the rest of this entry »

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:  Regulatory Affairs & Product Registration Officer, Randox Laboratories Ltd.

Approximate salary range for your type of role: Negotiable, relative to experience. The Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) has a useful salary calculator that you can use as a starting guide.

Dr Amber Glanfield.jpg

Towards the latter half of my PhD candidature I had become fairly sure that a career in academia wasn’t something I wanted to pursue long-term. I enjoyed lab work and being a part of the scientific process but I didn’t harbour dreams of being a Professor and wasn’t so keen on the grant funding-cycle battles that seem part of the game. Read the rest of this entry »