Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017: Reflections and the year ahead

2017 was the year I grew a baby and landed a new job!

This time last year I had almost completed the taught element of the Aurora Women in Leadership course, was waiting to find out if I'd been awarded FHEA accreditation and was hoping to develop a more holistic approach to my life and work.


The Aurora course and the mentoring aspect of it had an incredibly positive impact on my year and most of what I have achieved since then stems from its completion.

For me, the course was a real luxury in that it provided me with the time and space to really focus in on my passions, values and motivations as well as practical advice on finding work which correlated with these. In addition, it provided useful tips on dealing with some difficult situations I was experiencing.

I was successful in my FHEA application and this paved the way to my new job. Again, i found this piece of development rewarding due to its focus on reflection.

I am still very much interested in coaching so had some refresher training and joined a lovely group to practice with. It is still one of my longer term aims to become a qualified coach.

I'm a great believer in passing things forward so used what I had learned this year to write several articles for CILIP, blogposts and provide a guest lecture at University College London for the Leadershp and Management module of new LIS students. I'm not the greatest or most prolific of writers but I do enjoy it. While it's extremely unlikely that I'll be writing much while on maternity leave I do hope to continue when I return to work


There was a lot I'd hoped to do in my home life that having a toddler, being pregnant and working full-time didn't really allow. I didn't do any running but did continue to practise yoga, my garden is still a mess, and while I still ran the monthly mindfulness classes at work I neglected to practise it as much I'd like myself.

A note on the latter - doing these classes really gave me a sense of joy - I love seeing the change in people's demeanour and attitude as they progressed through the activities.


I'm on maternity leave for much of this year so my aim is to recover as much possible as two pregnancies, one labour and two caesareans have taken it out on me both physically and mentally. I've already started this by choosing to take longer leave, even if it means financially we are under more pressure.

Along with helping my new baby to develop, I hope to get out into more green spaces, see more of the UK, fix the house up a little, squeeze in as much yoga as is practical and try to fit in lots of small things to make me feel more human.

Longer term aims still include coaching qualifications and yoga teacher training but these will have to wait a while...

I'd love to hear what your hopes and dreams are for 2018 (especially if you have any tips for making it all balance out!) so feel free to comment below. 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Maternity leave

Next steps: Found on

I will be on maternity leave for a little while.
Come back later to hear about my new role as Lecturer in Higher Education, coaching, mentoring and becoming a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Using the GROW coaching model to help someone reach SFHEA status

As part of my interview for my new role as Lecturer in Higher Education, I was asked to deliver a ten minute presentation prior to the questions. This is fairly common in the education sector and makes sense in any sort of teaching role as you are showing that you can present knowledgably and engagingly, even when incredibly nervous, as well keep to time (a very important and often underused skill).

The topic was:

“My approach to supporting an experienced and senior academic begin to apply for Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy”

I have never helped anyone gain Senior Fellowship before; however, I have had many conversations with experienced and senior academics and, while I still have some of the wounds, I believe I've learned a lot from them. As many of you know, I'm a great believer in the power of coaching and think it can be enormously beneficial, so I decided to take this approach and use the GROW model to demonstrate it.

GROW is a coaching model acronym which stands for Goal, Reality, Options and Will.

I talked about how finding out what the Goal was for the academic - why were they trying to achieve SFHEA status? Had they been told to do it? Was it something they knew the value of? If I knew their motivations I would be able to better support them.

I then moved onto Reality. Did they meet the criteria of the UKPSF Framework? The accreditations for the Higher Education Academy are not hierarchical; for example, a highly established researcher may be very eminent in her field but if she doesn't support the teaching of others then she will not meet the criteria for Senior Fellowship and would be better going for Fellowship instead.

Options included how I could support the academic: through different types of workshops, through a mentor programme, through providing templates and so on.

With Will, I discussed investigating the level of motivation and commitment of the academic. Ultimately, the process was up to them and it's important they understand this.

In a bid for extra authenticity, alongside my explanations of how I could enable a person to grow and flourish, I was able to include lots of pictures of gardening, seeds and vegetables (another area of life I'm passionate about). It felt very apt!

My new role will involve much more mentoring and coaching so I am really looking forward to putting this into practice and I hope in future to be able to complete a coaching qualification to cement and add credibility to my work.

Friday, 25 August 2017

New job & New baby = New challenges!

Many of you know that I completed the Aurora course this year. It's a leadership development programme for women in higher education and I wrote about it recently for CILIP Update. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have recommended it to several of my colleagues since. I've also espoused some of the lessons learned in my guest lecture to new library and information professionals studying on the UCL Masters course.

I've not only been giving advice to others but have really taken on board what I learned during the programme. I was challenged to think critically about how I present myself to others, whether I show I have the courage of my own convictions and how I bring my whole self to whatever situation I'm in.

In conjunction with the Aurora programme I was provided with a mentor and they both helped me to determine my own strengths, values, passions and weaknesses and how they align with the job I currently do.

It became clear to me that I'm passionate about helping others develop and I love teaching, learning new things and inspiring others to do the same hence my 'considered' drift over the last few years towards coaching, social media workshops, and educational development.

I've now taken it one step further and am delighted to finally officially announce that from 18th September I will be taking up a new role at Brunel University London as Lecturer in Higher Education, based in Brunel Educational Excellence Centre (BEEC). I will be able to focus more on doing what I am passionate about including coaching and supporting others. Two weeks after I start I will be going on maternity leave for the second time which will undoubtedly bring its own challenges; however, I will have something very exciting to return to.

I will, of course, be very sad to leave the Library where I've worked for five years; however, I still expect to continue seeing my colleagues as the departments have always worked closely together and I will only be across the concourse when I return.

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Monday, 5 June 2017

Coaching: passions and practice.

A few years ago, I attended an introductory workshop in Coaching at my workplace. At the time the aim was to create a coaching community within the University and offer the ILM Level 5 Qualification in Coaching to interested attendees of the workshop. I was very interested but unfortunately the dates clashed with conferences I was presenting at, so I was unable to participate. The following year, the institution stopped running the course; however, I maintained my interest through reading and using techniques where possible and appropriate, for example, in the Action Learning Set I was involved in as part of the Aurora course (a development programme for female leaders in higher education) .

In November last year I participated in a Twitter chat hosted by UKLibchat on the subject which was incredibly popular. This encouraged me to include coaching as part of my performance development review at work as I could see how beneficial it would be both in developing my relationships with staff and in my work with students. Recently, a follow-up refresher workshop was offered at my workplace due to increased interest in the subject so I put my name down straightaway.

Reader, I loved it. The biggest glow I get at work is either when students ‘get it’ when I am helping or teaching them and also when I see people’s reactions at the end of attending one of my mindfulness workshops. While these two things may seem very different, what they both have in common is that they are empowering the person to be and do better. I believe very strongly that coaching does this as well, which is why I think I get that feeling.

Some useful refreshers:

Monday, 22 May 2017

Future Skills: values, networks and lifelong-learning

"I believe the children students are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way" 
(Whitney Houston - slightly amended)

I have recently completed the Aurora course (a development programme for female leaders in higher education) and I wanted to share one of the ways I have been passing on what I have learned. To hear more about the actual course, look out for a future article in CILIP Update as well as further blog posts!

In 2016, I was asked to provide a guest lecture for students on the Masters Library and Information Course at UCL as part of their management module. At the time, I was asked to talk about marketing, promotion and engagement activities. The session went well; I highlighted the great work we had done at my workplace as part of the Customer Service Excellence Standard process and our interactions with students via social media. There was a lot of discussion afterwards.

The proposal

This year, I was asked to do the same thing. I was tempted to just say yes as it was the easiest answer – I had the slides which I could easily update with new activities our Library had been involved in and it would have been straightforward to do. However, I am no longer involved in those activities to the same degree as before and it didn’t feel right to be doing it, even though I knew it would be received quite well. The other possible option was to say no.

The programme

The Aurora programme focuses on values, strengths and the importance of sharing what you know. I pondered this as I drafted my email response to the module leader. I could say no but I could also use my strengths and talk about something authentic to me which they would find useful. I had liked listening to other people’s experiences at the events I had attended and enjoyed their enthusiasm and optimism for the future, so inspired by this I took a risk and offered my alternative.

The workshop

My workshop looked at the future skills that students on the LIS course may need. We looked at tips from others who had done the course, then proceeded to look at passions, values, networks, having a purpose and the importance and means of continually developing and learning. I shared my own personal story with a number of its ups and downs as well as a number of things I wish I’d learned much earlier in life.

The tips (some of them)

  • Consider your values and your passions - how do they fit in with where you are now and where you want to be?
  • Never stop learning: there are ways to find accessible material or development opportunities. Use what your workplace offers but if they can’t or won’t use what you can to find somewhere better
  • There are numerous special interest groups to be involved in with roles needing varying commitment and action – a lot of the social media training I currently provide would not have occurred without my own involvement in CILIP and LIKE
  • Create networks/ safety nets – it took me far too long due to a whole history of personal baggage to allow people to help me. Try not to make the same mistake!

The slides from the workshop are available below: