Advanced Research Accreditation

Research Services Manager at the Liggins Institute, Katie Jones is only the third person in New Zealand to achieve advanced research manager accreditation from the Australian Research Management Society (ARMS). Find out how she made it to the finish line.

Katie Jones, Research Services Manager at the Liggins Institute

1. Why did you take on this accreditation programme?

I have been a member of the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) for 11 years and was looking for a professional development opportunity that would provide growth for me as a leader. When the Advanced Level Accreditation Programme was announced I jumped at the chance to undertake intensive leadership and management training specific to the area I was working in. I am very passionate about research management and administration as a growing profession, and having opportunities to engage in professional development specific to our field is exciting.  There was a strong element of leadership training in this programme, combined with subject and content specific modules, mentoring and peer support, and it appealed to me as an opportunity to both grow myself but also understand international best practice in research management.

2. What did you hope to achieve out of it and did it meet your expectations?

I hoped to understand myself better as a leader and develop a deeper understanding of managing professional staff in a research management context. I also wanted to expand my knowledge beyond the NZ environment, and gain a deeper understanding of core areas such as research impact, clinical research and data analytics. The programme exceeded my expectations, providing strong networking opportunities and peer support networks that have endured beyond the classroom. My workplace assignment has had impact beyond what I intended, and has changed the way I look at workload management for my teams.

Research management is a complex and increasingly specialised field and it is important for us in NZ to engage globally with changes affecting research and how we manage it.

Katie Jones Liggins Institute

3. Were there any surprises along the way?

I discovered I am not good at coding!

4. What was the biggest challenge you faced?

Time. The programme required several residential schools in Australia, and I completed my electives just after the first lock down last year. They had to be conducted to fit multiple time zones as we could not all travel to be together so I was on webinars late in the evening sometimes. I also took elective courses that I knew would stretch me in areas of research management which I only had foundational knowledge. This created quite a challenge as I was a novice when it came to data analytics and coding. But this was also the most rewarding part of the course as passing my final assignments really felt like a big achievement.

5. What support structures or strategies helped you complete the programme?

I have had amazing support from line managers along the way, allowing me freedom to set a workplace assignment that truly helped with my day to day job. My family also played a big part, especially in the early days when I had to travel to do part of the course.

6. What have you changed or improved about the way you work as a result?

I am a more adaptable leader now. Better able to adapt my leadership style to the needs of my team. It has also motivated me to be an advocate for continuous improvement. I have continuous professional development requirements to maintain my Advanced Level Accreditation, and this is great motivation to keep up with international and national best practice and maintain professional links I have developed. I try to incorporate what I learn into my work at UoA, sharing information with key individuals and my team to help grow their understanding of research management.

7. What does it mean to you to be only the third person in NZ to complete this programme?  

I am very proud! It has taken longer than I anticipated with role changes and COVID. I think it is a good example of what is possible for my colleagues who are just starting in research management, and sets an example for them around engaging in professional development in our field. It is a complex and increasingly specialised field and it is important for us in NZ to engage globally with changes affecting research and how we manage it.

8. What would you say to someone thinking about professional development?

Take all opportunities given to you and think outside the box. Understanding the wider context in which you work is important, as it makes you better at your job and better able to work with others across different teams. It is easy to become overly focused on your role and stuck in the day to day tasks. Professional development is an opportunity to step outside your everyday environment for a short period of time, allowing you to grow and widen your perspective.