“Really!? Are you sure about this? Can’t you just take a year’s unpaid leave from your university job in case it doesn’t work out?”
I’ve been fascinated by the oft-spluttered reactions of university colleagues to my recent change of job – from an associate dean to chief executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy.
To those who don’t know me well, particularly what gets me up in the morning, it might seem an unusual move to step down from a coveted, professorial senior university position and take the reins of the leading membership, training and regulatory body for psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors.
To me, it makes total sense and fits entirely with my professional identity and career trajectory. In fact, it’s the realisation of all the foundations I’ve laid, theoretically and practically, over the past 30 years. And it’s brilliant.
As chief executive, my hand’s on the tiller of a bold new vision and strategy. I want our strategy and policy underpinned by significant, impactful research activity. Our members comprise Diploma, Masters and Doctoral candidates at 70+ training organisations alongside highly experienced, top level experts working in the NHS, public and private sectors. Our membership base is growing annually and spans umpteen modalities of which our therapists deliver critical practice at the cutting edge.
As I said to our Board of Trustees at my first address to them, CE stands for more than chief executive. I’m chief experience officer for our staff and varied stakeholders, both internal and external. I’m campaigning editor-in-chief. I’m vice-chancellor at a campus spanning the UK virtually and digitally.
There’s a standing desk (my one rider!) in London but my real office is in my rucksack, which travels with me up and down the land and further afield.
Collaborator , chatterbox, coach – countless, endlessly fascinating and creative functions are captured by my role.
So no, this isn’t a sabbatical from the ‘important’ business of the TEF, REF, restructures and regs. Nor is it the end of research – if anything that’s stepped up.
I’ve always straddled university life while remaining in the fray for the past 30 years. That was weird, to some, back then but not now. I’ve been talking the talk for too long – and now it’s time to walk the walk and put this theory into urgent, direct action for the benefit of our members and the public.
A month in and it has exceeded all expectations. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and progress….