Ian Lyne

Ian completed his doctorate in philosophy at the University of Warwick. He then became the Head of the Graduate School Office at the University of Exeter, and is now Head of Skills and Careers at the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

"I undertook my doctorate in philosophy at the University of Warwick, and then was lucky enough to be awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship. The topic of my fellowship built on issues which I had uncovered as part of my doctorate – looking more closely at the historical constellation of ideas in German philosophy in the early part of the twentieth century. I feel that I published some useful work as part of my fellowship, and made a lasting (small!) contribution to scholarship and philosophical thinking in this area.

"While I found my fellowship to be an unforgettable experience, I found the teaching very challenging. An academic research career is also very competitive, and I was beginning to fear that I was not going to enjoy the constant pressure to keep publishing new work. There was also a growing feeling that it would be nice to have a job where one could see more concrete results, and get involved in more concrete activities.

"Making the transition from academic study to management was not easy, and I was very fortunate that the University of Durham took a chance on employing me! I think that if I had been encouraged to think more broadly about my career development, the transition would have been far easier. I then moved to the University of Exeter where I became head of the Graduate School Office, and oversaw the university’s postgraduate work and policy.

"I now work as the head of skills and careers at the BBSRC where I am involved in policy and strategy work. While the subject of my doctorate is not relevant to my current work directly, the experience of undertaking a period of research is vital in my work and understanding of the issues facing researchers in the biological sciences. Knowing as well how research can become an all-consuming passion helps me, I think, understand the issues facing early-career researchers and some of the challenges of academic life.

"My doctorate gave me the opportunity to hone my abilities to think critically and systematically through a complex set of issues, learning how to persevere even when faced with baffling and challenging questions. It is natural in a doctorate to be very focused on the research, and certainly I thought very little about the future – the question of what people would do after a doctorate was never really talked about. I think universities are doing much more now to help people think about their future career options, as well as simply enjoying the intrinsic intellectual and personal value of their period of doctorate research."