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Case Study: Isobel

Personal details
Degree:Geography BSc Hons Profile picture
School(s): School of Geography and Geosciences
Year of Graduation:Jun-1983
LinkedIn:
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: University of Stirling
Job title: University Professor
Occupational Sector: Teaching HE
What has been your route to getting your current position?
After my geography degree I worked in public sector housing services, in Scotland, England and Wales. After a few years I became more interested in research (rather than practice) and secured a post on a Joseph Rowntree Funded research project at Salford University. From there I moved to the Centre for Housing Policy at York University (1990-93), where undertook my PhD on homelessness and social exclusion. I took up a Lectureship at Stirling University in January 1994 and have subsequently been promoted to Senior Lecturer (2004) and then Professor (2009).
What does your job involve ?

My job involves conducting research on homelessness, housing policy and other social issues; supervising PhD students; and teaching on undergraduate and post-graduate programmes in Applied Social Science.

What are the best bits of your job ?
I like all aspects of my job – though it can be demanding juggling different pressures.
Why were you successful?
I also have a professional qualification and I am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing. This has helped me work across the academic, policy and practice worlds. Completing my PhD was also crucial to developing research and writing skills for an academic career. Once established, engaging in academic networks through UK and international learned societies were crucial to building strong collaborations for research.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?

The ‘human geography’ elements of my degree provided a solid base from which to move into both social housing work and an academic career in the social sciences.

What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?

A PhD is now an essential requirement for an academic career. But I also value my years spent working in housing practice to get first hand experience of the issues about which I now teach and research. I changed career path after my first five years of employment – so always be open to new challenges and opportunities.