3 December 2019

UCPH Talent Programme Gives SUND Researchers New Perspectives on the Future

portrait three scientist at the KU talent programme

In November 2018, a committee under the University of Copenhagen's Research and Innovation Council (KUFIR) selected 24 researchers who would be part of UCPH's stake on talent development. Included in the list were 10 SUND researchers; Associate Professor Maria Kristiansen from IFSV, Professor David E. Gloriam from ILF and Associate Professor Andrew Richard Williams from IVH.

Ahead of them was an opportunity to sharpen their own research and their future at the University by learning from others and learning about themselves.

'I thought that it was a great opportunity to be challenged as a researcher. And especially in a confidential space where there is room to formulate a vision – not just for my research, but also for me as a human being. And then to get the tools to realise those visions', says Associate Professor Maria Kristiansen about the selection and continues:

'Here was a chance to learn from some of the very best and most innovative researchers, from prominent people associated with the research world and especially to be challenged in my way of acting, my career choices, my strategies and my thoughts on the impact I want my research to have'.

Designed by Researchers for Researchers

Last Thursday, the unique course developed by Professor Marie Louise Bech Nosch (HUM) and Professor Jens Hjort (SCIENCE) ended in collaboration with Shared HR. And precisely the fact, that the programme has been developed by researchers, has been a key element.

'It is special and very important that everything has been developed and implemented by two professors with outstanding careers and a heartfelt desire to pass on their experiences', says management and organisational consultant from Shared HR, Ulla Viskum.

This is supported by one of SUND's participants, Professor David E. Gloriam, who notes that the joint journey with research colleagues is essential in order to develop. The researchers must, so to speak, walk the path together, as he frames it.

Associate Professor Andrew Richards Williams agrees and adds that 'Sometimes it is easy to think that the challenges you face are unique to your own situation. But nearly all young researchers share essentially the same challenges and roadblocks'.

Dialogue, Other People's Perspectives and Environmental Changes Create Tomorrow's Research Leaders

At UCPH Forward, the participants have been through both masterclass, boot camp, mentoring, coaching and temporary stationing. In addition, each researcher has worked on formulating their own personal development plans.

Common to the many activities has been that they should take the participants out of their usual comfort zone and in this way encourage reflections in relation to personal leadership, interdisciplinary potential, funding opportunities and, perhaps most importantly, make them reflect on what it takes to succeed. Not just in the short term, but in a long research career.

'All participants have appreciated the challenges. They have been very satisfied with their sparring with the other participants and all those who have been involved in the programme. In fact, every time the participants have accepted all the tests that we have offered. Knowing that the results – besides strengths – would also focus on possible weaknesses', says Ulla Viskum.

The Participants Have Especially Appreciated the Unconditional Honesty and Openness

It was a key premise of the programme that the participants should meet each other and be met by deep honesty and openness. The driving force was to put into words the very concrete and maybe also the more abstract challenges that a researcher encounters in a reality where there is a need to conduct research, teach, obtain grants and work on how the individual – often in collaboration with others – may have an impact on society.

This has meant that the content of the programme has been multifaceted and drawn on knowledge and experience about research management, organisational psychology, personal development and the closely relational. And then the programme has made it clear that career paths are not always linear, but rather a result of the individual being mindful and aware of where and when opportunities arise.

Maria Kristiansen verbalises it and stresses that 'Everyone has shared generously from their own experiences and learning. It may be a bit naive, but it has surprised me how many similarities there have been. And how many talk about careers that from the outside seem very rigorous and 'straight as an arrow', but which are in fact driven by many other factors – coincidences and opportunities that came up and were seized upon'.

UCPH Forward 2020

UCPH Forward will also be around next year. A new course will start in autumn 2020. Here, there will be the same focus on talent development and succeeding as a researcher in a broad sense – from creativity, management and research funding to dissemination, organisational understanding and the ability to create interdisciplinary solutions.

And if you ask Professor David E. Gloriam, there is no doubt why you should apply for the programme: 'It is unique. And you will not find as complete a program out there'.

If you are curious about if UCPH Forward, you can read more about the programme here. If you want to see pictures of the participants' journey, please visit UCPH Forward's Instagram

By Thomas Fahrenkrug