Day in the Life of an academic #2: of meetings and parking tickets

My ‘Day in the Life of an Academic’ post was quite popular, generating interesting discussions on and off line. So, I decided to do another one. For my second instalment, I chose Thursday (May 7th) as this was such a different day from the one I previously wrote about. It was also 43 days after the first post, which seemed like a perfectly good number 🙂

Here we go – this is what I got up to on Thursday.

I woke up shortly before my alarm went off (yay), and checked the news on my phone. Today is Election Day in the UK, and there is much uncertainty about the results. At home, the UKIP’s hatred of migrants and the Conservatives’ pledge to hold a referendum on EU membership inspired some discussions about our identities (national vs. cultural) and position in British society.

IMG_7181Unlike the previous ‘Day in the Life’ post, when I worked from home, today I left home at around 8 am (already having put a load of laundry in the washing machine, and emptied and refilled the dishwasher). I dropped the youngest in school, and headed to Brookes. Not much traffic, fortunately.

At Brookes, I downloaded a paper that I agreed to review for a journal, and searched some materials on co-creation for something that I am working on. At 9h30m, I joined department colleagues in a meeting to discuss developments in the MSc Marketing. It was a really interesting experience to join this meeting (as opposed to leading it), given that I am on sabbatical and, thus, not the current programme leader for the MSc. Still, it was a very long and very intense meeting, lasting for more than three hours! Thank god for coffee and cake.

meeting

After that long meeting, I met with my Head of Department to quickly go over what has happened lately (both in the department and in my sabbatical), as well as what will be happening in the near future. That meeting lasted for about 30 or 40 minutes.

As I was leaving the building, I bumped into one of our students and we had a quick chat. She told me about an exciting internship she was about to start. I vividly remember her initial days in our programme, and how nervous she was. So, it was really nice to see her ‘coming out the other end’.
IMG_7184I then popped into the café, grabbed a soup, and headed back to my office. I crossed paths with one of our former students, who has since launched his own company, and who told me about how busy he has been securing funding, hiring people and so on.

 

I finished downloading the materials that I needed for the co-creation paper, and then left at 3 pm. There was a parking ticket on the car – argh…

carAfter picking the youngest from school, I stopped by the supermarket to buy some milk and other basics. When I arrived home, at around 4 pm, I helped the youngest with his homework, and dealt with admin issues. For instance, I sent a message to the editor of a special issue I am planning to submit a paper to, asking for clarification on some aspects of the call for papers; I also exchanged e-mails with two colleagues to discuss next steps in a project we are working on; and I prepared for a very important meeting scheduled for the following day, with a company that collects consumer feedback. I was so engrossed in these tasks that I lost track of time, and missed my class at the gym. Not good.

 

Once the kids were in bed, I did another 90 minutes at the laptop. Unfortunately, I was too tired to do any substantial writing. So, in between getting a parking ticket, not being able to do any writing, and missing the gym, this was a rather frustrating day. At least, it was nice to see my colleagues, and the students.

 

These meetings and chats (e.g., with the former student), brought home how much time a manager / director / head spends on non-vocational stuff (dealing with people issues and securing funding, as opposed to doing what you trained to do). It seems that the higher you go in an organisation’s hierarchy, the less you do of what got you noticed in the first place.

How do you balance climbing an organisation’s hierarchy (academic or otherwise) with staying close to your vocation?

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