Strategic Thinking for Researcher Developers: A three-part action-learning workshop series about unlocking solutions, insights and influence

Dr Saneeya Qureshi, Head of Researcher Development, University of Liverpool the Winner of the Outstanding Contribution Award at Vitae's Impact, Culture, and Engagement (ICE) Awards is is sharing her prize fund through a series of exciting new workshops.

UKRI and Wellcome logoVitae ICE Awards logo

Are you looking to be more influential in your researcher development role?

This series of workshops will help you create meaningful connections with a likeminded peer community and give you the chance to gain new insights and perspectives on your current challenges, or ways forward for the things you want to change.

Who is this series targeted at? It’s intended for anyone who is stepping up to work at more of a strategic level and we’ll use an action-learning set format over the course of the workshops, with everyone having the chance to bring a problem or question, as well as honing their own coaching and listening skills by supporting the others in the group. The size of the cohort will only be 6 individuals so that we can genuinely effect practice. 

What time commitment is required? You must be willing to participate in all three workshops and we’ll poll you on options for dates and times that are most convenient for you. You must be willing to bring a real challenge, question or theme that you’d like to think through as part of the session. These sessions will be confidential and supportive in nature, working from the basis that each individual is willing to share their experiences, is resourceful and creative, and can solve their own problems, with the right space, questioning, reflection and supportive challenge from the group. While we do not require you to produce any formal outcome from the action learning series, we will contact you in due course to hear about the impact of these workshops on your practice so that we can understand the impact of the Vitae ICE awards and communicate this to the wider community. 

What will the format be? Each workshop will last two hours, with a short break, on zoom.

  • Session one:  Introductions to each other and the action learning set format, coaching contracting for how we will work together.
  • Session two: Three group members will bring their challenge or question, with structured space and time to think it through with the support of the group. There will also be time for wider group reflection on the process and emerging insights.
  • Session three: The remaining three group members have the chance to act as the ‘thinker’, again with time for wider group reflection and planning of ‘what next’.

What’s the cost/ small print? There is none! This free small-cohort series is made possible through the generous sponsorship provided by UKRI, Wellcome and Vitae to the ICE Awards Outstanding Contribution Award winner, Dr Saneeya Qureshi, Head of Researcher Development, University of Liverpool. Saneeya is keen to use her prize money to help facilitate the work of researcher developers across the sector who are stepping up to work at a more strategic level, empowering their abilities to influence and use coaching skills across their work.

Who’s facilitating this action learning workshop series? Dr Elizabeth Adams, Scafell Coaching, will be the lead facilitator. Since establishing Scafell Coaching in 2020, Elizabeth has worked with institutions across the UK and overseas, coaching researchers and academic staff, and delivering workshops and resources on themes ranging from career and leadership development, to networking, grant writing and recruitment. She is a coach and mentor for the UKRI FLF programme and regularly works as a consultant with institutions seeking to assess and improve their research culture. Prior to setting up Scafell Coaching, Elizabeth led the researcher development and research culture programmes at the University of Glasgow, including delivering a review of research integrity and a project looking at the implementation of narrative CVs. She chaired the Universities Scotland Researcher Development Sub-committee and was on the national writing group for the Concordat for the Career Development of Researchers. She has also worked in innovation in the nuclear sector (with a focus on AI and robotics), supporting academic-industry collaborations, an innovation festival and an incubator programme.

What’s the process of expressing interest?

Please fill out the form before 23:59 on Thursday 14th December 2023.

What happens after the action learning workshops are over? Following completion of the action learning workshops, to enable you to sustain the momentum of the change you wish to drive, you will be invited to the ‘RD and Tea’ community of practice that is organised by Sophie Morris, a Researcher Developer based in Edinburgh Napier University. ‘RD and Tea’ is a chance for researcher development professionals who work for a higher education institution to get together on a regular basis, network, share best-practice and solve some of the problems that we face in the sector.

Once the cohort members are confirmed, we will contact you with a poll to arrange dates for the three sessions. We are excited about this small initiative and very much hoping to support upcoming researcher developer leaders in their journey. If you have any queries at all about this, please email