Snapshots of leadership

It’s a busy time of year (at work, at the kids’ schools and at home) with little time for blogging. Here’s a snapshot of what I have been up to — with a teaching, employability and leadership theme.


I chaired a panel on employability for higher degree research students with Professor Vito Mollica, Head of the Department of Applied Finance at Macquarie University; Kirsty Hosea, Partner, People Advisory Services at EY; and Emily Chang, Founder of Stoke, Co-founder of Cruxes Innovation. The conversation was insightful and hopeful.

We busted myths about graduate researchers looking for work outside of academia: ‘I can’t change field,’ ‘I’m in introvert’ and ‘I’m a pure researcher.’ The audience were invited to recognise the skills and capabilities they have gained as PhD candidates including managing uncertainty, critical thinking, problem solving, and dedication. When searching for jobs, the panel’s advice included: ask challenging questions, demonstrate your achievements in key areas such as collaboration, do your homework about the business and sector, and tell a story about your research.


I’ve been a member of selection committee panels for teaching and leadership roles in the university. Reading the application materials and listening to the interviews of many accomplished candidates has offered something of a behind-the-scenes masterclass in academic job applications.

My key take-away is that candidates should prepare a mental bank of examples that showcase leadership capability (especially working collaboratively across teams of people) in key areas — change management, implementing strategic plans, managing complexity, navigating institutional and sectoral challenges — and have a future-focussed vision for the role.

For emerging leaders in higher education, articulate your work as leadership, whether you have positional authority or not (yet). My previous post on claiming leadership may be helpful.


My colleague Marina Harvey and I, with a cast of collaborators from many universities, have been reviewing and updating the Contemporary Approaches to University Teaching MOOC. Since its launch in 2018, the course has had over 7000 participants from 106 countries. It will relaunch in March next year with several new modules including Psychology of Learners and Learning, Peer review of teaching, Higher education in context and Leadership for learning and teaching. These modules will be very helpful to emerging leaders in higher education learning and teaching. Stay tuned!


I am proud of the academic development work accomplished by our small team at the university in collobaration with many others. I want to highlight two activities this year. These are relatively simple ways in which people can work together to showcase their teaching and leadership.

First, the Teaching and Leadership Community of Practice now has over one hundred members strong. Members presented on many topics including: pandemic driven changes to teaching, enhancing student performance, improving online lectures, continuing professional development, blended synchronous teaching, standards-based assessment, co-creating curriculum with students and industry, and reflecting on teaching practice. The COP also led to spin-offs such as the H5P Enthusiasts Club (with 50 members).

Second, Open for Observation, a initiative in which experienced educators across the university open their face-to-face, virtual and blended classroom doors for colleagues to observe and learn. This grew exponentially this year, with over 300 opportinities to observe teaching across different disciplines.

Thank you to Alison, Karina, Kylie, Mathew, Olga and Fidel and our colleagues. It has been a pleasure to work with you this year, and I am looking forward to what next year brings!

This won’t be my last blog post for 2022 — I will share my favourite books of the year next week.

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