How long have you worked at the university? What does your role involve?
I worked in RIS from 2009 until 2016 when I moved to work in departments to get hands on experience of doing knowledge exchange. I’m really pleased that I'm able to take this role on now at a time when knowledge exchange is becoming more prominent, more mainstream.
My new role involves helping to develop and implement a knowledge exchange strategy at the University. Knowledge exchange is how we interact with external organizations that are not other academic institutions. This includes business, government organizations, charities and the third sector. We can help them benefit from our research in order to deliver impact.
It's always been treated as a third stream of activity after research and teaching. But it's actually integral to research and teaching. It can enhance research, in that it can give us new ideas, and access to equipment, data and funding that we wouldn't normally have. It gives us a chance to make our research useful and used by external organisations.
What would you most like to achieve whilst in your role?
I'd really like to see more knowledge exchange activity across the University. We have been doing knowledge exchange for a long time, it's not something new, even though people might not have come across the term before, we've always collaborated with external organisations. I think I'd like to enthuse people about its possibilities, about the benefits it can bring for their research, and see more people engage across the range of KE activities
Can you name one thing that makes you feel proud to work here?
I think the camaraderie. I love the teamwork that being at the University provides, although that has been a bit more difficult in lockdown. But that sense of being part of something really important, and working together to achieve great teaching and research - and knowledge exchange, obviously. It's just lovely to be part of that.
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
My son is actually a student at Bath, he’s doing a Master’s at the moment. What advice I’d give is to take advantage of all the opportunities on offer, not just the teaching. Really take advantage of what Bath as a city has to offer, and Bath as a campus with its fantastic facilities, particularly the sports facilities.
As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
Not a knowledge exchange professional, as that didn’t even exist! I wanted to be a scientist. I was very keen and enthused by science, and actually did a PhD in Biochemistry. I just moved into management from there. I saw that I really understood how academics work, I understand how research is done, and I've run companies as well. So I could just see how to support universities and companies to work together for mutual benefit. And that just really, really appeals to me. To be able to bring those communities together and help them achieve more than what they can do individually.
What was your first job?
My first job was as a waitress in a pub. In Ireland it was always the case that you would go in and sit down and somebody would come and get your order and get it for you from the bar. So lots of Guinness handled!
If you could start your own dream business what would it be?
I have run a business in the past. It was very knowledge exchange actually. We had a lot of people from universities, we employed a lot of graduates, and we provided software training and development. I really like taking knowledge and helping companies develop new products and new processes. I guess that's what I'm still doing. I think that's just always interested me.
What's your favourite holiday destination?
I think it would have to be the Balearic Islands. I love the food, I love the weather, and they’re just gorgeous. Little coves and beaches, just stunning.
So what's your favourite book or album and why?
I've been thinking about books recently because my leaving present from my last job was a Mr. B's subscription. So you have to say things about what books you like and what books you don't like, they then get a ‘bibliotherapist’ to choose books for you and post them out to you.
I read this book a long time ago and it really made an impression on me – A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, but I don't know that I could read it again right now because it's set in the plague. It's about a Derbyshire village, that voluntarily self isolated because they had the plague, which had come from London. But they were the only village in the region that had it. It was a fantastic book, it's very relevant right now.
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive, who would it be and why?
William Shakespeare. I absolutely love his plays, I love going to watch them, I used to go a lot to the RSC up in Stratford, although that's not happening at the moment, unfortunately.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I used to be an Irish dancer, and I’ve got medals to prove it! But when I became a teenager it become very uncool. But now I absolutely love Zumba, that's my real passion, I do it a lot.