I'm a tad gutted that I've had to turn down Sean Trainor's offer to speak in one of the CIPR Inside's Engage Inside Expo sessions in London on May 5. It would have been a chance to share the research I worked on at the tail end of last year - and look forward to how it may move on this year.
But, the way I choose to operate my business has meant I've had to give up the opportunity to share a platform with the MacLeod 2 team and other practitioners with some skin in the engagement game. While the Expo will be in full swing, I'll be a dozen miles west in Uxbridge on day two of my university's annual research student event. It's just about the only compulsory event for researchers all year, but if I'm not there (and I missed it last year while stuck under a volcanic ash cloud), my chances of advancing to my next year of PhD research will be slimmer than a pre-pregnancy Victoria Beckham.
Back in 2007, I took the conscious decision to ease back on work and complete an MA in International Relations. It meant about a day and a half a week onsite at University from late September - April - with a frantic drive to over-index on work from late April to early September. The MA went really well and by 2010 had segued into PhD research (NOT part of the plan in 2007). That was easy to fit in when times were tough and I wasn't picking up work. However, the past year has been a less easy balance.
Long-term (post PhD) I plan to do more in academic research and, if there's any left by then, academic teaching. To that end, I've been balancing up comms work with part-time lecturing and support for some of the full-time staff (essay marking, running seminars etc). At times there's a really interesting synergy between the academic work and the organisational comms stuff but at other times there are some tectonic crashes as my two worlds collide. The Expo is one of those occasions.
Still, last week I had the pleasure of sharing a roundtable event with MacLeod 2's Nita Clark (of course it should be Clark/MacLeod ) during the kick-off phase of Adecco's 'Unlocking Britain's Potential' . The theme of this first roundtable was engagement - and while there was probably still too much time spent attempting to define what engagement is, there was consensus that no successful organisation can afford either to ignore it or to place it in a 'task' box. I'm going to be working with Adecco and the research team Loudhouse on the research outcomes/plan of action report later in the year. Perhaps it's another tip in the balance from organisational comms consultancy into research into the outcomes of such consultancy? It's not a leap I want to take totally yet, but the applied end of research is an area I find fascinating.