All posts by Fiona Saunders

Is it Welcome Week already ?

As a lecturer in the School of MACE, my work routine is very much organised around the academic year.  From my office in the Pariser building I have observed the ebb and flow of the student population for several years now.  Between September and June the campus is a hive of activity; students and staff striding purposefully across North Campus, huge numbers of emails, frequent visitors to the office, teaching and marking deadlines to meet.  And then shortly after the end of June everything calms down, time seems to slow, and Sackville Street empties as the majority of the student population (excepting Management of Projects and postgraduate research students, of course) leaves Manchester to enjoy the summer break.  You might be forgiven for thinking that lecturers too enjoy an extended summer holiday – at least this is what much of the general population seems to believe.  Continue reading Is it Welcome Week already ?

A PhD as a project

Long before I threw caution to the wind and (as a mum with 2 small children) began my part-time PhD my Professor Andy Gale (@AndrewWGale) gave me a very wise piece of advice “Don’t be afraid of a PhD, it’s really just a project”.  As a new academic who had previously enjoyed a career as a project manager in industry (and one whose last serious academic study had been 10 years previously) I found these words both reassuring and encouraging. Now that I am entering the 3rd year of my part-time PhD I want to reflect on the similarities between a PhD and a project and offer some tips on how to use the tools and techniques of project management to make sustained progress in a research degree.  I will share these lessons in two successive blog posts as there is a lot to cover – Happy reading!
Continue reading A PhD as a project

Reflections on uncertainty

Uncertainty: A concept that is rich, evocative and loaded with meaning.  Uncertainty can conjure up fear and trepidation, or alert one to future opportunities to be explored, depending on the perspective taken. An entrepreneur may look favourably on uncertainties within a particular market from which he can exploit and profit.  In contrast a middle manager may fear the consequences of an uncertain future generated by an organisational restructure. What is clear from these two examples is that “uncertainty” is neither a simple nor a neutral term.  Continue reading Reflections on uncertainty

Parallel Tracks: First reflections on the use of twitter at conferences

This week I attended the PMI Global Congress in Istanbul.  It was the first conference I have been to since I became an avid user of the social networking site Twitter and it struck me that with continuous wifi access to Twitter by smartphone, tablet or lap-top you are in effect attending two conferences simultaneously – the live face- to-face conference track and the virtual social media enabled one.  This richness of experience brings benefits and presents a number of challenges for both speakers and attendees: Continue reading Parallel Tracks: First reflections on the use of twitter at conferences

The challenges of the part-time student

I have been teaching part-time masters students in project management for a number of years now and have always been impressed by the dedication that delegates have to the course and the associated challenges of completing assignments whilst holding down a full time demanding professional role as a project manager. To date however this has been admiration from afar, with no real conception of the reality of life as a part-time student.  I have been fortunate in that all my academic studies to date both undergraduate and masters level, have been of the full-time variety, completed at a time of my life before real responsibility in the form of husband and children arrived.   Continue reading The challenges of the part-time student