Achieving Fellowship: engaging with the process | AUA Blog


Sara Corcoran FAUA
Head of HR Strategy & Change
Queen Mary University of London

As a new AUA Board Trustee, it seemed only right and proper that I engage with the process to become a Fellow. Duty apart, my competitive side was determined that I wasn’t going to be beaten in becoming the first in the university to achieve fellowship status. So I went online, downloaded the application form, began collating a schedule of development activities undertaken over the past couple of years and ground to a shuddering halt. Writing the reflective statement was something that kept getting nudged down the to-do list – in Kolb learning cycle terms, reflection is not my strongest suit!

Fortunately my collaborative tendencies appear to be stronger than my competitive streak and I realised it would be more fun and a quicker route to achievement if I could get a few colleagues to work with me, with a view to a group of us achieving fellowship simultaneously. Our local AUA advocate and I managed to find a small group willing to explore the idea and we arranged to meet for lunch to share ideas about how to approach the task and set a provisional timetable which would see us all submit our applications on the same day. It was interesting to hear how others were thinking of approaching the task and we agreed to reconvene armed with our first drafts three weeks later.

The mutual commitment helped me begin to think about how I might pull the threads of actual work tasks/projects, CPD and the AUA behavioural framework together, but I confess that when we reconvened I had little to share but a couple of false starts and a little frustration as I’d tied myself in knots. What had initially seemed like a rather daunting word count target isn’t actually all that generous when you divide the total across the nine behaviours! Fortunately one of our group had been in contact with a colleague in another institution and shared a suggestion about working from the framework, looking at each behaviour to identify recent examples of work that evidence this and then reviewing the CPD to see how it has supported. I think I had been going at it backwards – as well as round in circles. This unlocked it for me. It also prompted me to include a much wider range of informal development (networking discussions, reading, researching, briefings) in my CPD log, emphasising the importance of our continual on-the job development, something it’s easy to overlook.

When the group met again I had a draft that felt it was a good 80% of the way there. A couple others felt they were making good progress too. However some of the group had been struggling to find the time to work on their statements. We agreed to stick together and submit as a group, so we revised our timetable for submission and made a firm commitment to a group submission date. We also created an Office 365 Team space to share our drafts and invited comments. With a little cajoling and encouragement – and possibly a little pestering – we did all click ‘send’ on the same day.

On reflection, working this way has been really rewarding. It made the process seem very straightforward and has bonded the group in a really nice way. At our final meeting we began discussing ideas to support the AUA advocate in developing the institution’s membership, so it feels like we’re already shifting our engagement and contribution, even in advance of knowing the outcomes from our applications. Fingers crossed we’ll all be successful – being the first over the line now seems very unimportant!

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