Kala Kennedy, Knowledge Exchange Facilitator at Cranfield University, reflects on the second meeting of the KE Best Practice Group (KE BPG). The KE BPG was set up to provide support for KE professionals to discuss roles and responsibilities and exchange advice on some of the issues encountered day-to-day.
On the 5th November, we held the second meeting of the Knowledge Exchange Best Practice Group (KE BPG). It is fantastic that, in some cases, there were new faces from universities represented at the first meeting; it is great that information about the KE BPG is being shared by members with colleagues at their own institutions, and expanding the Group’s network. There were also colleagues from operational and strategic levels, which allowed for the Group to hear and understand the view points and experiences of those in roles across the spectrum.
Jennie Shorley, Associate Head for Research and Knowledge Exchange and Academic Impact Lead in the Faculty of Business and Law, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Deputy Chair of the PraxisAuril Professional Development Committee, joined us and ran a workshop on career development for KE professionals. Adam Crook, from the BEIS Industrial Strategy team also joined and provided an update on the Industrial Strategy, and discussed how universities, and their industrial collaborators, can best position themselves in order to take full advantage of the funding on offer.
The career development workshop began with speaking to the person next to you to find out their job title, the one thing they spend most of their time doing and where they want to go next in their career; we then shared these points with the wider group. Going around the table, it was interesting to find so many of us had similar job titles, but differing daily activities; it is difficult to understand what someone in KE ‘does’ simply through a job title, as the activities we undertake are very diverse. This was highlighted later in the workshop, when we were provided with a diagram of 16 processes (the Group determined there are more than 16!) involved in KE roles, and asked to rate ourselves on each of these. This exercise was eye-opening, as I don’t often think of all the hats I wear day to day to carry out my role. After discussing the results, it was reassuring to realise that no one scores a perfect 10 at everything, no matter their career level, and you don’t have to; a take away for me was to focus on what you enjoy, and work to upskill in the areas that will help you reach the next step in your career.
It was reassuring when Jennie explained that skills are more important for KE professionals than background; this hit home for me, as I work at a university which specialises in the scientific and technical. I, however, do not come from this background, so it was encouraging to hear that I can be successful in my role and advance my career in KE despite my lack of scientific qualifications and expertise.
We also discussed how the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), Knowledge Exchange Concordat and the Industrial Strategy provide opportunities for KE professionals to add value within their own institutions in relation to these initiatives.
I think a good message to remember is that no matter your role in KE, career level, or experience, we all work hard, so it is important to celebrate success and recognise the contributions we make to our own institutions, as well as to the KE community.
I feel that I now have a clearer idea of where I need to upskill in order to reach the next step in my career, and a framework to support me on my journey. I hope all who attended this meeting took something away to help support them with their own career planning, and for those who line manage, the careers of their team members, too.
The next KE BPG meeting will be held in May/June 2020 at the Knowledge Transfer Network offices in the Business Design Centre, Islington, London. If you would like to join the Group, or find out more, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org).