Episode 5

Published on:

24th May 2023

(S4E5) A Career Built on Collaboration - Warren Beardall in conversation with Ruth Winden

In our weekly Research Culture Uncovered conversations we are asking what is Research Culture and why does it matter? This episode is part of Season 4, which focuses on Researcher Careers.

Ruth Winden, the Careers with Research Consultant at the University of Leeds, is your host for this season.

Today, I am speaking with Warren Beardall, a researcher in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds. Warren has focused his entire career on building strong, trusted and effective collaborations to achieve successful large scale public sector infrastructure programmes, often with a 30 year lifespan.

To add to his lived experience of risk, finance, and project management, Warren recently added two Masters' programmes to his expertise, one in project management and one in human behaviour. Now he brings both aspects of his research and his professional experience to his PhD research, fully funded by EPSRC.

Our focus today is on working well together, in a research environment.

We talk a lot about collaboration in research. The term has become a real buzz word.

Everyone does it.

Everyone assumes we know how to do it.

But when do we actually discuss - and even agree on - what a good collaboration looks like?

  • Why is a good collaboration essential to research?
  • Why is it such a skill, if not an art?
  • And why is having conflict in collaborations normal, and even a necessary part of working together?

See what Warren has to say - his interdisciplinary look at collaboration certainly gives him a rare perspective. And of course, we also talk about careers. How a research career can open doors, why you don't always have to have a firm career plan, and why it is never too late in life to add your voice and perspective to a research community.

If you want to connect with Warren Beardall and learn more about his thought leadership, here is a link to Warren's fascinating blog projectswithinprojects blog and LinkedIn profile.

Be sure to check out the other episodes in this season to find out more about Research Culture, Open Research, Postgraduate Researchers, and Research Impact.

Follow us on twitter: @ResDevLeeds, @OpenResLeeds, @ResCultureLeeds

If you would like to contribute to a podcast episode get in touch: academicdev@leeds.ac.uk

Introduction [:

Welcome to the Research Culture Uncovered podcast, where in every episode we explore what is research culture and what should it be. You'll hear thoughts and opinions from a range of contributors to help you change research culture into what you want it to be.

Ruth Winden [:

Welcome to our podcast. Research culture uncovered. It's season four, focusing on researcher careers, and we're already in episode five. I'm your host, Ruth Winden, and I'm the Careers with Research Consultant at the University of Leeds. My guest today is someone who has built his entire career around collaboration with a background in large public sector construction and procurement projects, focusing on risk and insurance. His knowledge and lived experience of making collaboration work is second to none. And to add to his understanding from a project management and a human behavior side, he has not only thrown two master's programs into the mix, he has also embarked on a PhD to explore the topics even further. Warren Beardall does his research in the department of Civil Engineering at the University of Leeds. Warren says in his LinkedIn profile: "My passion is acting in collaboration and facilitating any means for others to do the same. Integrity is thrived for and defended. Nothing is certain until demonstrated to be so." Join me for conversation about how to build true collaborations, how to build trust, and why conflict is a necessary and healthy part of any research project and collaboration. We finish with a conversation about how research can open many doors and why creating opportunities, a good dose of serendipity and also some luck play a part in a researcher's journey. We're going straight into the conversation where Warren gives us an insight into his career.

Warren Beardalll [:

I graduated in 94 as an undergraduate, went straight into working in the city of London on the insurance side. Essentially built a career around going from graduate trainee up to being a partner in a broking firm and spent most of that time in and around construction in and around construction projects in and around the construction environment particularly. The more complicated construction in terms of the parties involved, because I was dealing with public private partnerships. PPP, and that is schools, it is hospitals, it is road construction, the old tunneling project and the old heavy civils project. And the parties involved are government entities. There are senior debt lenders who are lending money to these long term projects. Then you've obviously also got the construction contractors. But then there's a long operational phase on these projects as well. You're building a school or a road or hospital. The finance is being brought in from these private banks. The construction people are coming in and building off the back of that money that's been lent by the lenders by the banks. And there's then a long operational phase, and it's during the operational phase of, say, 30 years, that the government entity is paying that project, that special purpose vehicle that's been set up for that project, they're paying them for the availability of an asset. And so the wider project context of that sort of project is really interesting because there's so many different people coming into that from different industry perspectives and different professionalisms then need to actually operate as a cohesive lot and pay back debt essentially off the availability of that asset. So all of that is I kind of grew up in and around that sort of environment, spending a lot of time in law offices, not because there was lots of claims, but more because that's where the actual contracts were set up prior to them actually getting to financial close. That was my life until about six years ago when I, for various reasons, I decided to go back to university. I did a Master's in Project Management, Finance and Risk because that kind of lived quite nicely within my past career, then started doing a second Master's in Psychology because I having got my first Master's and learning much more about how projects and project risk is understood in and around that engineering and financial environment. I wasn't satisfied that I'd got to the nub of how projects actually work. And I thought that human behavioral side was just as important, possibly more important, particularly as I'd spent my career relating with people and actually being more focused on that relationship building and that management and being an expert amongst other experts in that sort of environment than necessarily just worrying about spreadsheets and risk registers and all of the other great stuff that these projects need to be able to operate properly. But through doing that, I was then starting to do a lot of networking with a lot of different types of people from my desk by this time because Lockdown had sort of parked me at my desk, which is where I still now sort of anchor myself. But I was speaking to a lot of people still in and around the same environment with very different perspectives. And the thing that linked us all together was this collaborative feel and this collaborative need. And it was through that that somebody introduced me to the opportunity to do the PhD that I've started. So I joined Leeds in September last year and started a PhD in that sort of field. So I'm within the civil engineering school, within the engineering faculty, but within the projects center within that school. And my research focus is now project governance and governance around these big complicated project types. But how that relates to specifically conflict and how conflict and governance are actually sort of collectively part of this same need for these relationships to be honed and nurtured and encouraged and conflict and specifically dispute being the evidence where perhaps that governance has failed or where the relationship has demonstrated itself to be unable to be contained by that governance structure. So that's a very long introduction, I suppose, but what it's really sort of offering is where I've come from, how my research is actually sort of completely relatable to my career and how my career going forward is completely relatable to both my PhD research as it is now, but also where I've come from. But how all of that in the bigger picture all comes down to something that I know you speak about a lot in these podcasts, which is collaboration, which is people coming together with different skill sets and finding ways to collaboration. And it really excites me hearing some of the people that have been on this podcast already talking about a research community that is increasingly becoming multidimensional and crossing traditional boundaries of scholarship to actually try and find collaborative means to better our understanding of so many different things. And I'm really excited to potentially be trying to plug myself into to be part of that.

Ruth Winden [:

Yeah, it sounds like the two Masters, your background, your huge background, many years in the field and now the PhD. That's a perfect marriage really, isn't it? Because you've got the academic, the Masters, now you're doing the PhD, but also you have that incredible personal and professional experience to draw into the PhD. Because I wondered after such an established career, it's quite a step to say, okay, I'm leaving my professional career on ice for a while and now I am really following that drive to go into the research arena. Collaboration is something that is part of what we do, isn't it? And I was really pleased to see that you have such a strong interest in collaboration that you also spotted that on our podcast. Because as part of research culture goes, collaboration is everything, isn't it? It's at the centre; without our colleagues, the people we work with and we research for and who contribute to our research. You can't do it in isolation anymore. Do you want to say a little bit more about your approach to collaboration?

Warren Beardalll [:

Yeah. Okay, so two things. Firstly, from an academic perspective, I'm actually borrowing from what a wide canon of different thought processes around what collaboration is, but specifically around what shared intentions can be one person to the next. Borrowing from people like Thomasello and others who are focused on that sort of more anthropogenic big picture. This is fundamentally what the human being is. A being that builds, which is, I guess, heidegger, but is also a being that is cooperating and learning to cooperate and learning to collaborate in more profound ways than necessarily other animals do. So at that really sort of high level, there's that. But if you then equate that back to anything that you're doing in a collaborative group, there's a strong argument that says that we're more than just the aggregation of our desires to exchange and to enter into contract and to enter into agreements and to sort of do something, because it's a trade between what I want and what you want. There's a strong sentiment now, and this includes within the governance world, that there is a whole relationship side that is more about trust and it's more about developing long term relationships, not about being clear about how you finish. An exchange, but how you actually continue to build a network of like minded or different minded but similarly focused people that you can actually do more together than if you were doing something by yourself. And so that's the sort of the academic framework in which I'm putting my research in. But I relate that completely back to how I have basically run my life and I think how I've always found people who have similarly collaboration intentions. And actually, I think most people I mean, there's the odd person that's quite clearly in for themselves, but I think there's a lot of people out there who are who are wanting to be part of something bigger than themselves and are prepared to actually be a net contributor as opposed to a net consumer of wider collaborative effort. And so approaching that in my friendships, approaching that in my professional relationships, approaching that in all walks of life is actually just part and parcel of how I operate. And I think there's plenty of people that would probably resonate with that. Which is fantastic, because given some of the ridiculously huge challenges that now face us all, these are the moments where if we're able to understand collaboration in the context of research, if we can be collaboration in our research, if we can use collaborative efforts in the real world that help to inform that understanding, and if that understanding can actually help the real world, then that collaboration effort that we're all anthropologically supposedly defined by all, becomes much more meaningful and available to much more difficult and unachievable things that suddenly become more likely to be achievable. So the collaborative focus for me is absolutely it's why on my LinkedIn profile, my opener is essentially saying I'm a collaborator and I'm looking for other collaborators to collaborate with. It is the fundamentals. And the more I speak to people in that sort of language, and the more I bring scholarship in to back up those sorts of sentiments, and the more examples of people actually reaffirming that in their own lives, in their own ways, the more it sort of gives me reason and passion to continue doing that. Marriage of the academic and the academic. And I keep saying the real world, I don't want to be insulting to people. The scholarship world and the practical world, the theory and the practice, if that can be married around that same sentiment, then surely that's moving us in the right direction. So yes, collaboration is all for me.

Ruth Winden [:

And it's interesting because our podcast here is a collaboration. And when you described how we collaboration, I mean, I'm a good example because we've met a few times through university and careers workshops I lead, and we had some conversations. And then last Friday, we actually started talking about LinkedIn, and we ended up discussing the meaning of life, which was a conversation that would stick with me for a long time because incredibly Deep came out of the blue. And it just showed to me, oh, there's someone who's really deep thinker and are really interested in having deep conversations with people and not afraid to build that trust. For me it's also really important collaboration as we talk about it, but to step back and think, what does it actually mean? How do you have good collaboration? You've worked in big infrastructure projects. I started out as a project manager in international education. We know, we work with people. There are always different views, different agendas, different preferences, there's time pressure, financial pressure. Somehow you have to build something from zero and then succeed. And for me it's really important that we open up conversation about research, culture and collaboration because there's an emotional aspect. You understand this because A, you've lived it, but also you did your masters in psychology. And what surprises me often is that in the scientific world we don't really look enough at the emotional aspects of collaboration. Everyone says, oh, I'll collaborate. And then people have issues they struggle with and I think it's so good to have those conversations because in anything in life, if we want to create something, they're bound to be tensions. But that doesn't mean that the projects don't work or the creation doesn't come to fruition. But how do we as academics, as professional service people, how do we become more skillful at building those collaborations and also accept they can go up and down, there will be conflict, but that is normal and that is also useful because it helps us discuss things, come to conclusions and then move forward. Do you want to say a little bit more about that aspect, the emotional aspect of collaboration and how you see that happening around you?

Warren Beardalll [:

Yeah, I do because I think the keyword you use there actually, or you use lots of keywords actually, but the one that really resonates with me is conflict and acknowledging that conflict is actually not always unproductive, that conflict is actually inevitable. And for me the inevitability of that comes from the fact that we are designed as human beings to be in a constant state of wanting to be doing something specific, but at the same time needing to be aware of other things that are coming into interview that maybe may end up being more important, more appropriate, better. Or there is just a conflict of different goals that some people are trying to do something for a certain reason, some people are trying to do something for a different reason. I think that whole understanding of what we're doing, even you and I now, when we're having this conversation, that the whole premise of what that is, is actually something that we perhaps sometimes take for granted and don't fully appreciate how important it is to be building enough trust in a relationship that enables a safe means by which different views can be exchanged. Different goals can be acknowledged, different agendas can be debated. So that the end result, the foundation by which the next collaboration moment comes, is built on strength and is not built on false promises and essentially commitments to contractual undertakings or just a desire to get paid and get gone. But that deeper sense of shared result, shared outcome, shared possibility or different possibilities that actually just sit together nicely and collectively build something that all parties can actually be happy with is, for me, a fundamental part of that. And I think in research context because I don't think many people do this academic journey at any moment in their lives because they think it's going to be the way that they can earn the most money. There are a few I suppose, but for most people this seems to be a calling or a reason to sort of be doing something that is contributing because essentially that's what we are, isn't it? We're learning to contribute knowledge, contribute to understanding not necessarily just solving problems and earning money from the solution. So the academic mindset, if you like coming back to this idea of emotions or feelings or ways of being actually become quite ingrained in all of that. But I also want to sort of counter some of that and say we need to be mindful of other people's feelings but we also need to be aware of our own emotions and feelings and not be too precious about our perspective being the right perspective. And actually I sometimes wonder if as a society we we enable ourselves to be strong enough and robust enough and without hubris enough to really be able to give productive conflict. It's fair due. I mean I look at what's going on, for example in the exchanges that are had now in the Houses of Parliament for example and there is very little there that suggests to me that people are really trying to have the necessary conflict of ideology that enables the better outcomes to be aired. There seems to be an awful lot of emotional rhetoric that is being used instead of the conflict as opposed to using the impassioned positions to further the dialogue and that's a very different thing.

Ruth Winden [:

And it's point scoring, isn't it? For me, being German it's bewildering very.

Warren Beardalll [:

Different it's more about being too quick to be offended or being too belligerent in being offensive. These are the soft skills for me. These are the challenges. But they're also the reasons that the human endeavor is different to every other, that we can we can find means within ourselves. Because, I mean, I think a lot of our own emotional baggage comes from our own inner conflict and actually sort of as a metaphor that sort of then quite nicely spreads out into much bigger scales. But we can be very bad at properly articulating that or properly understanding that, or being more conciliatory in furthering our understanding by understanding the other perspective more than we want to make other people more aware of our own. And those are the real challenges.

Ruth Winden [:

Yeah. And I think when I remember my days as an official project manager, there was always often huge time pressure and there was always a temptation to just jump in and get on with it. And I learned over the years that taking time at the beginning, doing, spending time with each other, what are we trying to achieve, what are we trying to get out of here? What are different interests? And really spending time on setting professional boundaries, understanding people's agendas and building that trust with each other. That was time so well spent because you just knew once you have the trust and that open communication, you just knew whatever happens, we could deal with it. And I think that's a real skill that researchers develop and that they probably underestimate. Because when I talk to researchers about their project management skills, which they're obviously developing as part of doing a PhD or postdoc or whatever, their academic career might be. Very often it's the project management, the technical skills, the hard skills of project management. Time, budgets, plans. All this man source, all these kind of things. But actually we don't put enough emphasis on the influencing, the adapting, the listening, for starters, the questioning, the challenging, all these incredibly important skills. And they are not soft skills. I hate the word soft skills. They are essential skills, they're human skills. And I think the more we become aware of those skills, the better the collaboration can actually happen. Because we are collaborating everywhere in the university, whether you are in academia doing academic research or whether in professional services, we collaboration, you collaborate with external people as well. It's absolutely foundation. We do, absolutely.

Warren Beardalll [:

That works both ways, actually, because I know a lot of people still see older PhDs as the novelty, but I think you could almost flip that and say, why aren't there more older people doing a PhD? Or why aren't there more older people who have built a foundation, a financial foundation for themselves in a career who, by the time they get to my age, I was 50 last December, why are people getting to that age and only thinking about the final few laps to get towards retirement? Which is kind of the conversation we're having last week, wasn't it? And I think doing a PhD later in life is a very different challenge. But at the same time, all of those skills that you're learning as a young PhD. In terms of learning how to be adaptive and organized and self fulfilling or self capable, self starting, autonomous, all of those things, I think if you're coming into a PhD later in life, most people anyway have kind of, one way or another, learn a lot of those skills. I suppose I'm in a project management environment, so if I couldn't manage a project that I'm actually sort of running myself, there'd be other questions asked of me. But I think coming into a PhD later in life, particularly if you've been fortunate enough to have had a career where you can claim to have some level of financial stability, or at least a platform from which you can be building beyond earning more money, there is something to be said about those life skills that, yes, as a young PhD, you can then sell to a potential employer, or indeed just sell to your own future possibilities in whatever shape or form you want that to be, but in exactly the same way. It works the other way. That sort of the challenges of a PhD or the challenges of advancing understanding something that you are personally very impassioned about is easier and more difficult for very different reasons. But the things that you have already learned in life are advantageous to being back to a PhD as well as doing a PhD to learn those things to take into later life. I think it works both ways and I think in both senses that means to contribute by doing, but also understanding other perspectives. And therefore that collaborative spirit that is built out of that, I think it lives strongly in the researcher community. And I'm excited that it's now becoming much more apparent that people are seeking out collaborative opportunity, or indeed just seeking out means to get insight from other research areas that may or may not develop into future research directions. But having the conversation and having that possibility of that insight and breaking down some of those traditional silos of ownership of a particular field of interest, all of those things for me are positive perspectives. And so therefore, for me personally, it's an exciting time to be trying to knock on the door of academia because academia seems to be speaking a language I can relate to.

Ruth Winden [:

Fantastic. And it's interesting because when I spoke to Marianne Talbot, who's also started her PhD later in Live, she always has such a vested interest in the topic. I wonder that there is a PhD in there. Isn't there a PhD? Yes, exactly. I would love why do experienced professionals make that huge change and sacrifices in many ways and venture out on something that is very challenging, but also, I guess, very satisfying? And how they're building their I mean, how they're building their career, because as a career professional, that's always what interests me in particular is how are they using that PhD experience for their career? And so that leads me onto the question and you said a few things already about aspirations. Where do you see yourself going? Warren.

Warren Beardalll [:

I'm quite pleased to tell you, I don't really know. And the reason I say that is because I think I've now got to a point in my life and indeed my career that I don't necessarily need to be planning so far ahead. And actually, because I've come back to essentially a learning environment, I'm just treating my current experience as an expansion of my possibilities that there are. My horizons are expanding as opposed to drawing in because of my age, not despite it. And bringing myself into sort of new environments and having conversations with new people and having my assumed understanding challenged so profoundly means that I'm ten months into a three stroke, four year PhD journey. And being less precious about where that's taking me, I think is probably the right attitude for me to be having. The only thing I can tell you with some conviction is that despite most of my career having half an eye on retirement and making sure I've got something I can retire to, I have never been less enthused about the idea of retirement than I am right now. And so at 50 years old, if my brain and my physical being keep in sync with my attitude, then whatever I'm doing, I'm going to be doing it for quite a long time. The whole idea of retirement has become something of a misnomer for me in terms of focus. But to be less abstract in answering your question, I could, I think, make a case for going into civil service or that area of significant infrastructure and look at their project side. I could probably continue doing the consultancy work I was doing previously, but looking at it from a different perspective, I could go back to one of my past careers and bring something new into those areas. But most likely in my current mindset is actually staying within this environment of academic and research progression. And maybe it'll be a combination of all of those things, I don't know. But whatever it is, the point I'm making rather verbally is in my mid life I am growing a new set of doors by which I could possibly walk through and which one of those I choose, I don't yet know. But it's really motivating for me to think that actually what I'm doing at the moment is growing, growing possibilities and not denying them. There's an answer in there somewhere. I'm not sure.

Ruth Winden [:

And I really get a very strong sense from you. You are so content where you are, you're curious and open where it will take you. You have a lot of different opportunities, but that's not really what you focus on. You're enjoying your PhD. You really get into grips with the research environment and the research and the collaborations and then, hey, things will evolve and develop. And I'm a big believer in happenstance. When I think how I ended up in careers, it was total happenstance and serendipity. And look at me. I've been in the field for 30 years and I still find it the most exciting thing. And there is no way that I will retire. We had this conversation last week. I have a role model, a researcher who started a PhD at 68, got the PhD, taught at the university, and now she's almost 80 and she's doing an internship. So she is my role model because I think as long as we're still well and healthy and with it, so to say, what's stopping you? The world is so exciting. We have so many challenges that need an answer. But, Warren, before we finish and thank you so much for such a deep conversation, what's your top tip for someone considering, shall I, shall I not? Because it is a very big step, isn't it? And not everyone is in the position where they're saying, financially, I'm safe now, some people have to make huge sacrifices and have to decide, do I add to my pension or do I become a PhD? What would your top tip be for them?

Warren Beardalll [:

Well, I'd say in that collaborative context, have conversations with people. If you're thinking about a PhD, you're probably naturally quite a curious person and able to actually start uncovering some of the realities of the challenges of doing a PhD. I'd say if you've not done anything academic for quite some time, it might be useful to warm up with doing something academically challenging. Necessarily, say you need to go back and do a master's, but it certainly shows intent if you are. But just never think it's too late. And therefore also never think you need to be in a rush. So find your own groove, make it make sense for you. You certainly don't want to be financially destitute because you need to be mentally focused on your research. It would be so much harder for me if I was doing this and not sure if I could actually sort of financially survive. So cautiously, deliberately, and just one step at a time, and at no point think you have passed the moment where you can, and I can say this with some authority, that your brain continues to be plastic, which means it continues to be adaptable much later in life than most people give credit for. And so when you hear examples of people doing PhDs in their late 60s, they are exceptional, exceptional in their attitudes, not their physiology. I think if you have a brain for it, and you'll probably know if you have a brain for it, then you're probably young enough. It's just then a question of motivation and perseverance and focus and a bit of luck. Always a bit of luck. And you talked about happenstance. I mean, the things that sort of just fell my way for me to be sat here talking about being a fully funded PhD student at the age of 50. It'd take at least one more podcast to just explain all of the happenstance that came my way to enable that. But at the same time, I forget who says it. But the more I practice, the luckier I get. I think there's a lot to that. If you keep an open mind and whilst you'll focus on what you're doing, you still have half an eye on other things that are going on around you and being open to the idea of there being another thing that could be being done and making decisions as opposed to just letting things flow one way or the other. All of that actually sort of brings more possibility of happenstance. The fortune of happenstance is actually sort of in your favor if you make more of those possibilities available. Nobody should be in a rush, but at the same time, nobody should feel that they're precluded from the club.

Ruth Winden [:

And it all starts with a good conversation. And Warren, thank you so much for having a good conversation with me and I look forward to seeing again in some of my workshops and all the best with your PhD.

Warren Beardalll [:

Thank you. Ruth, pleasure as always to have a chat. Thank you.

Introduction [:

Thanks for listening to the Research Culture Uncovered podcast. Please subscribe so you never miss out on our brand new episodes. And if you're enjoying the discussions, give us some love by dropping a five star rating and written review as it helps other research culturists find us. And please share with a friend and show them how to subscribe. Thanks for listening and here's to you and your Research Culture.

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About the Podcast

Research Culture Uncovered
Changing Research Culture through conversations
At the University of Leeds, we believe that all members of our research community play a crucial role in developing and promoting a positive and inclusive research culture. Across the globe, the urgent need for a better Research Culture in Higher Education is widely accepted – but how do you make it happen? This weekly podcast focuses on our ideas, approaches and learning as we contribute to the University's attempt to create a Research Culture in which everyone can thrive. Whether you undertake, lead, fund or benefit from research - these are the conversations to listen to if you want to explore what a positive Research Culture is and why it matters.

Unless specified in the episode shownotes, Research Culture Uncovered © 2023 by Research Culturosity, University of Leeds is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. This license requires that reusers give credit to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms. Some episodes may be licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0, please check before use.

About your hosts

Emma Spary

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I moved into development after several years as an independent researcher and now lead the team providing professional and career development for all researchers and those supporting research. I am passionate about research culture and supporting people. I lead our Concordat implementation work and was part of the national Concordat writing group. I represent Leeds as a member of Researchers14, the N8PDRA group and UKRI’s Alternative Uses Group.

Taryn Bell

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I work as a Researcher Development Adviser at the University of Leeds. My focus is on career development, with a particular focus on supporting funding and fellowships. I previously worked at the University of York as their Fellowship Coordinator, developing and growing the University's community of early career fellows. Get in touch if you'd like to learn more (T.L.Bell@leeds.ac.uk)!

Katie Jones

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I am a Researcher Development and Culture Project Officer at the University of Leeds, where I lead projects within the Researcher Development and Culture Team. My role involves managing projects that enhance the development of researchers and foster a positive research culture across the University and the higher education sector.

Tony Bromley

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I've worked in the area of the development of researchers for 20 years, including at the national and international level. I was lead author of the UK sector researcher development impact framework charged with evaluating the over £20M per year investment of UK research councils in researcher development. I have convened the international Researcher Education and Development Scholarship (REDS) conference for a number of years and have published on researcher development evaluation and pedagogy. All the details are on www.tonybromley.com !! Also why not take a look at https://conferences.leeds.ac.uk/reds/

Ged Hall

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I've worked for almost 20 years in researcher development, careers guidance and academic skills development. For the last decade I've focused on the area of research impact. This has included organisational development projects and professional development for individual researchers and groups. I co-authored the Engaged for Impact Strategy and am heavily involved in its implementation, across the University of Leeds, to build a healthy impact culture. For 10 years after my PhD, I was a consultant in the utility sector, which included being broker between academia and my clients.

Ruth Winden

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After many years running my own careers consultancy business I made the transition to researcher development leading our careers provision. My background is in career coaching, facilitation and group-based coaching, and I have a special interest in cohort-based coaching programmes which help researchers manage their careers proactively and transition into any sector and role of their choice.

Nick Sheppard

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I have worked in scholarly communications for over 15 years, currently as Open Research Advisor at the University of Leeds. I am interested in effective dissemination of research through sustainable models of open access, including underlying data, and potential synergies with open education and Open Educational Resources (OER), particularly underlying technology, software and interoperability of systems.