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Friday, 8 January 2010

Assembling the team

In my conversations with Addenbrookes Hospital, I mentioned that I would like to pull together a team so I've been busy the last few weeks assembling the team.

Team building is one of the things I've been doing these past few years. It's quite an art I realise because unlike corporate life, you don't just hire people with the right skill sets. Team members are basically those who are enthusiastic about the research and they could be potential PhD students, consultants, practitioners, academics, postdocs and many of them may not be directly funded by the project. Also, there could be institutions interested in this research as well so pooling resources is key to team building and one has to be rather enterprising to pull like minded stakeholders (and to know where pots of money are located) to construct a good team.

So... once I get a project, I think about who else might benefit from this - which company, institution? if they contributed funds to complement this project, could it fund a postdoc/phd student/fellowship? What would they get in return? What are their expectations? Can we meet their needs and get the funding to fund a bigger team and create opportunities for new researchers? Pooling the funding can create marginally higher resources than the cost to deliver everyone's expectations (yes, that's me thinking like an economist). So if I got money from ESRC, I will try to get money from a company, the school, anyone who could potentially benefit from the knowledge.

Then there are the individuals. Often i have people who email me or in my travels meet others who are interested to get involved in my research. Some are potential students who are smart, experienced but have no funding to do their PhD. Others want a change in career. There are usually a few criteria to be a team member of a project. First the individuals must get something back for themselves personally. That usually means data for a PhD, experience, learning from the research, opportunity to get access to good data for publication etc. Second, the individuals must give something to the project. That means they must have a skill that the project can use - a methodology, knows all the literature, has experience in the industry, has project mgt skills, is him/herself an expert in a complementary field etc. So bringing in the individual would mean a win win for the project and the individual. Third, of course, we must be able to get along. As the project gets long, the third point is really important. There must be trust between team members as mistakes and misunderstandings are bound to happen. Sometimes the difficult thing is to find the money. Sometimes it's to find the right individuals.

For this project, I've found 2 who are suited (they haven't joined me yet so I'm using initials till they do)

SS - new PhD student - S is a consultant, runs his own firm and crazy enough to pack up his family and move from Denver, Colorado to the UK to study with me. He has great enthusiasm for service research. He's expertise as a consultant and his conjoint methodological abilities would be useful for the project. I'm at the stage of finalising Sid's funding (a PhD student requires £23k funding per year and £69k in total to fund).

WM - postdoctoral researcher. WM and I have been discussing her doing her postdoc with me so this project would be ideal to sink her teeth into. She is postdoctoral and has written academic papers so she would be helpful in getting the literature together, helping me write the reports for the work. In the process, we hope to gather good data to publish in tier 1 journal, something that would greatly boost her career.

I'm in discussion with Addenbrookes and the Clinical school on visitorship status for both of them so that they can be based in Cambridge working with me.

I expect to have a team of 2 or 3 working on this project.

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