Dr David Bozward opened the final ‘Leading Academics’ session by describing his career, in which he followed a passion for computers and radios that led him to work for the military, several large technology companies, and also to start his own businesses. He has additionally worked with organisations that help graduates to be enterprising and entrepreneurial.
Dr Bozward described himself as a ‘tech guy’, an expert who had leadership thrust upon him; as such, he advised the delegates to work out whether they are a leader in their respective fields or a leader of people and encouraged them to employ someone else to manage the other aspect. On the other hand, Dr Bozward pointed out that even those who do not view themselves as leaders will pick up management skills over time.
The talk made clear the importance of being involved in lots of different projects and Dr Bozward advised the delegates to always have an exit strategy for each job they start, to avoid becoming trapped in one career path. He stated that most people will change career three times; the most important thing is to be adaptable and enterprising, forming a network of contacts and always looking out for new opportunities. Overall, Dr Bozward urged the delegates to view their PhD as an investment and to ensure that they get their money’s worth in their future career.
Dr Bozward explained that presenting is a core skill that should be developed as part of studying for a PhD; talking to people at conferences is an example of leadership. Moreover, he encouraged the delegates to reflect on the other leadership skills that they will have already developed as part of a PhD. Dr Bozward emphasised that one does not have to be a manager to lead. Regarding different management styles, Dr Bozward recommended taking an individual approach, talking to employees on a one-to-one basis, in order to understand their feelings about their role and the company. He finally stressed the importance of honesty in a leader, as well as taking time to reflect on our actions. Reflection is a key aspect that has been stressed throughout the ‘Leading Academics’ sessions; the delegates were encouraged to reflect on the skills they have developed throughout the course and to continue reflecting as they pursue their careers.