Since early childhood, I have had a strong passion for science and for almost a decade was convinced that I was going to pursue a career as a researcher. It came as a shock when I realised during the course of my Bachelor of Science that in fact my skills and interests were not well-aligned to life as a researcher, and I completed my degree in 2012 feeling dejected and lost.
By chance, I happened upon a Grants Officer role in the UNSW Sydney Research Grants and Contracts office and was fortunate to be appointed in the role, despite being completely unaware of the research management sector or the significant role that it plays in research throughout the world. This role set a strong foundation for my research management knowledge, as it covered both pre- and post-award grant management and exposed me to an array of stakeholders and functions. This enabled me to hone my skills in grant compliance, strategy, governance, reporting, financial administration, research ethics, and research integrity, and I closely collaborated with researchers, funders, industry partners, financial services, the graduate research school, and other administrative staff throughout the university. In retrospect, I realise that I am particularly fortunate to have held a role that covered the entire grant lifecycle as it has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of research management and has allowed me to make more educated and effective contributions to my organisations.
It became evident that my skills in compliance, project management, and systems/workflow management were well-aligned with research management, and I was delighted to support the research that I was always so passionate about. Because of my enthusiasm and commitment to research administration, I was promoted to Senior Grants Officer in 2017, and then promoted to Team Leader in 2019, where I lead a team of 4 core staff, as well as co-ordinating major ARC/NHMRC review rounds with up to an additional 10 staff. In early 2020 I reluctantly resigned from my role at UNSW to pursue opportunities overseas, which did not come to fruition due to COVID-19. I was fortunate to become the sole Research Grants Manager at VCCRI in October 2020, where I have been able to implement a host of initiatives spanning research management, including a new grants management system, new workflow and review processes, new data management procedures, new consumer and community engagement pathways, updated institutional repository procedures, and an increased awareness of research impact and its assessment. I will be returning to my previous Team Leader role at UNSW RGC in November 2021. My ARMS Board Member application has the full support of both my current VCCRI supervisor (Chief Operating Officer, Susannah Rooney), as well as my future UNSW supervisor (RGC Director, Debbie Docherty).