Career stories: planned happenstance

Helen Lawrence

Helen completed her doctorate in linguistics at the University of New York. After teaching and project management work, she set up her own training consultancy.

Jeff Stonehouse

Project Lead Chemist, AstraZeneca. “I may have been serendipitous in finding this career but, in terms of progressing it, it has been hard work and reputation – getting other people to believe that you can do it...”

Joanne Badge

Joane works as the Web Resources Development Officer for the University of Leicester. "The concept of career means very little to me! I guess I would term it just to collectively describe the jobs that I have held and the education I've received..."

Michael Gunn

Since giving this interview, Michael Gunn has been appointed as the Vice Chancellor of Staffordshire University. "The serendipitous way that I pursued my career is becoming less of an option. It is becoming more of the case that you've got to have a career plan..."

Neil Radford

Neil is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Derby. “Luck is an interesting concept. I think it is possible to perceive that things are lucky when, in fact, they are largely influenced by other factors...”

Riccardo Briganti

Riccardo is a Senior Research Fellow at Nottingham University. "Academia offers a lot of mobility – it is a global market. You have to move around as much as possible..."

Sam Ladner

Sam is a Research Consultant and Adjunct Professor. "I believe in ‘planned serendipity'. I regularly go for coffee with people I don't actually know, just to make a new connection..."


Susan is an Associate Lecturer. "I suppose I see career as employment that takes you in a direction – preferably across or upwards. It’s not just a job..."


Tim is Academic Director for the College of Arts, Humanities and Law. "If any of my family had been to university, I might not have had so many illusions about academia – and I might have been less motivated to persist in them..."