Floating in water

It’s been a while since I’ve published anything here. Hi, and welcome back!

In my academic career, much has been happening which may explain my silence. I’ve been super busy with research while also undertaking some of the most important leadership roles of my professional career. Right now, I hold the three executive roles of Editor-in-Chief of the Policy & Internet Journal, President of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA), and the Chair of Discipline, Media and Communication at the University of Sydney.

In this post, I’m going to focus on the latter leadership role (Chair of Discipline) and describe how my first six months in the role has gone.

Where I’m at right now

8ish years ago, as a young Level B scholar and just after my own PhD journey, I sat with my Chair of Department and my Head of School to talk about my career goals as an academic. Today, as Chair of Discipline, I sat with my Head of School and one of our newest Level B colleagues and spoke about their goals for their academic career. I walked out chuffed with my progression in this life path, but also thankful for those in front of me who supported, guided, shielded, prompted, directed, and generally helped along the way.

For me, today was an important reminder of the trail we leave behind us and how working with our next generation is crucial for everyone. It’s only academia, but it’s bigger than that, too.

I also had the opportunity to sit with my Head of School (HoS) today and just get to know each other. It was lovely! It was also an opportunity for us both to share our stories on how we ended up where we are today. While I was fascinated with my HoS ‘s story, and some of the similarities, it was a moment to reflect on how I’ve grown and developed over the last while. I’m happy and focussed for the minute, and have a new found passion in my professional life.

What I’ve learned in the last six months

It’s hard to try to compact what I’ve learned in the last six months into a few lines, but if I can summarise it – the ability to listen a broad range of people, understand individual perspectives, and to then make the best decision on how to proceed.

When I was working in live production, we would rehearse shows and working as a collection of experts in each medium (audio, video, lighting, producing, etc.) we would work through a series of scheduled motions. Most times it was perfect, but there was also unexpected problems that pop up. That pressure and immediacy of making decisions that was informed and directed at success is not unlike the Chair role.

My first six months in the role was learning from my predecessor, while also meeting with everyone around me to understand their needs. There were a few calls I had to make in terms of direction, and most were fine, but it was really about listening.

Now, I move into a more driving mode and need to listen to what is at play from around my own Discipline and think how to position us for the next 12 months. This is tough, but again something that is not done in solo mode but with the input of everyone around me. It’s exciting, and a bit terrifying at the same time.

Where to from here?

So. I have some new skills and am keen to keep developing these. But as I look towards my next step post these leadership roles, I’m also focussed on succession planning. I’m beginning to think about who will be in the chair next and what they need to be ready to take over.

Just as those who paved the way for me, it’s my responsibility to provide the opportunity to the next gen.

Providing opportunities is probably the most important thing I’ve learned in this gig.

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash