Dr Hannah Bartlett, Senior Lecturer in Optometry at Aston University talks to APEX about her time on the Aurora programme, run by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.
I am a clinical health scientist and teacher, and my aim is to reach professorial status through leadership in research, excellence in teaching, and being a positive role model.
I recognised that participating in the Aurora programme would allow me time out to focus on my career plan and strategies for development. The opportunity to enrol on the Aurora programme could not have come at a better time for me. I had recently returned to work following the birth of my second child. Prior to starting a family my focus was to secure an academic position and establish myself as a researcher and teacher. Upon my return to work I needed to re-evaluate and plan my progression route. A challenge was achieving this as a part-time academic, and building the internal and external relationships that are necessary to progress.
One of the requirements of enrolling on the Aurora programme is to partner with a mentor within your own institution. This gave me the confidence to ask a very senior colleague to mentor me, and this relationship has been invaluable. In addition, it was very useful to have the opportunity to network with, and learn about the experiences of other motivated individuals on the programme itself.
I started my career as an optometrist and this clinical role allowed me to develop my communication skills. However, I found that I sometimes lacked confidence when communicating with senior colleagues, for example in committee meetings. Attending the Aurora programme provided the opportunity for me to consider and understand my own strengths, but also to recognise and identify ways of minimising my weaknesses. I became aware of the importance of taking time to make positive choices, which allow me to maximise my contribution to the university whilst also accruing experience that will support future promotion.
The Aurora programme has helped me develop the skills necessary to progress my own career, as well to support my colleagues. I am now involved in mentoring and have recently been asked to lead a new institution-wide initiative called ‘Aston Women’, which aims to support women in reaching their full potential. The leadership skills that I have developed also benefit my research by supporting my development of international collaborations.
Dr Hannah Bartlett is a senior lecturer in Optometry at Aston University. Dr Bartlett took part in year two of Aurora.
This article was originally published on the Apex Woman website.