Archive for November, 2008

Nov 28 2008

Waiting for the Bank…

Published by under Training

On setting up a Limited Training Company (see www.TrainingForUniversities.com) I needed a new bank account. I’ve used Abbey for business banking for years and been very happy with their free and efficient service. They seemed an obvious choice.

The application form was 12 pages long. We had to wait for credit checks and to confirm that I really did receive mail at the postal address I supplied. Then another week while paperwork was processed…

I believe my accounts were officially opened on Wednesday last week. That’s when they sent out my Welcome Pack, account details, cards etc… and I’m still waiting.

They can tell me all of this on the telephone.

Oh yes, there are the security checks, my eye colour, my dog’s inside leg measurement and my first friend at nursery school, we need security clearance. With this information they will let me transfer money into or out of an account – but they won’t tell me the new account number.

So I’m still waiting.

How long does one wait before one starts to panic…?


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Nov 27 2008

London commuting today… Yuk!…

Published by under Tweets

London commuting today… Yuk! So glad I’ve left this behind on a regular basis. PI workshops at UCL will cheer me up!


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Nov 25 2008

Just Rewards?

Published by under Creating Wealth,Inspiration

Tomorrow holds a “Managing Research Projects” workshop so today I was travelling.

Journey was fine and I stopped to shop before heading to the hotel.

As I passed the supermarket self-service checkouts (and please, don’t get me started on self-service checkouts!!!) I noticed a neatly-folded note on the floor. Was it?? Yes it was!! I was now the posessor of £10 pounds that, a minute before, was not mine. Not another soul to be seen in the vicinity of the checkout.

So what would you do? Smile, put it in your pocket and walk away or hand it over to the Store…

I wasn’t sure. I paused, looked around – for what I’m not quite sure.
It didn’t help.

So I walked over to the Customer Services desk and handed over the dosh. I hope the owner returns to claim it. When the woman behind the counter told me “You’re too honest!” I wondered whether I was more the fool but, hey, job done and off I went.

Safely at the hotel now I stride toward Reception. There’s that awful moment when you give your name and wait while they scan the reservations, and of course, after a delay that seems forever, there you are on the second page!

But not tonight.

No booking in my name, not even in my first name, not from Cardiff and, not even with the Booking Reference number I received in my confirmation email!!!! Thank goodness for confirmation emails.

But not tonight. There was no room at this inn.

While I contemplated sleeping in the car, noting that frost was already forming on the windscreens outside, I wondered what happened to weary travellers without a room. Do we double-up with strangers, sleep on a sofa in the bar, get farmed out to other hotels??

The Manager was called, hushed discussions, someone sent scurrying and please would I wait in the bar area… It seemed like an age watching Celtic play football – but that was possibly because of the football!

The Manager returned: “Would I mind having an apartment?”. I mean, would you mind?

So now I find myself with two ensuite bedrooms at my disposal, a kitchen and a lounge… rattling around all on my own with free wifi and a warm radiator.

What more can a woman want?

Was that worth the £10 pounds I handed over?

Just rewards indeed!


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Nov 24 2008

Researcher career development …

Published by under Tweets

Researcher career development – can I inspire them to be entrepreneurs? What a workshop I have planned! What would you do?


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Nov 23 2008

Researcher Career Development

What do postdocs do for career development?

Lightbulb moment

Lightbulb moment

There’s a real buzz in the research community about what to do with our contract researchers.

There is widespread agreement that we need them. As a country, we are not succeeding by the manufacture of products as much as showing the potential of a knowledge economy. It is information and innovation that will allow us to compete on a world stage.

The number of people with PhDs is increasing – so what about the opportunities for employment of postdoctoral researchers?

With my Training For Universities viewpoint, I know we need to support our researchers, to give them skills to thrive in a fast-paced, global research environment.

That is best served by providing funding, infrastructure, opportunity.

Maybe we also need to give them inspiration, options, and stability.

Now, if you’re a researcher you will know what I mean.

A typical researcher career is nomadic, unstable and marked by short-term contracts. Most contracts last no more than 3 years, so after 30 months, many will be looking for their next position. This usually means moving to a new lab, a new home… particularly challenging if you have a family or significant relationship to maintain.

Most researchers accept this as “part of the job” because they love the job.

A typical day at work might contain much that is routine but also new challenge, variety, unpredictability, finding out something new for the very first time… It’s a great life in many ways but I wonder how many researchers also see that these same skills also open doors of opportunity elsewhere?

In my experience, only a minority of researchers would consider themselves as entrepreneurs or creatives. Maybe in working with them I can plant a few seeds, open a few windows and let the slightly unsettling wind of change blow through a few ivory towers.

What if researchers could set up businesses, become financiers, develop sales skills, create independent wealth… and you know, each and every day, somewhere they do!

Maybe they just need to be given a direction and permission to fly…


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Nov 10 2008

I didn’t think I’d like this…

Published by under Training

At Training For Universities I’ve been running a series of workshops for undergraduate students – Presenting Yourself – preparing for job interviews and making presentations.

It’s been great fun, I’ve enjoyed it, they’ve enjoyed it.

But, without fail, half of the participants in any workshop have found a quiet time to come to me and secretly admit “I didn’t think I’d need this workshop. I nearly didn’t come. However it’s been great and really useful. Thank you!!”

Now it does make me feel good but, what’s a girl to do?

The workshop is actively promoted by the staff in the department. We share raving testimonials from previous students who found the workshop helpful, inspiring, very relevant…

Think I need to get some video testimonials on YouTube – what do you think?


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Nov 08 2008

Student entrepreneurs do the job?

Young Friends Having Fun

Young Friends Having Fun

Many years ago I decided to go to university. At the time, this was a very strange decision. I didn’t actually know anyone else who had ever been a uni student. I didn’t know why you went, what you did or what happened afterwards. Naive is one of the many words you might choose to describe this state of innocence or ignorance.

I just knew I loved learning and university seemed to be a pretty good place to go to learn some more!

How different to the young people I see today.

Some are desperately keen to go to university. They have a passion for their subject and want to learn more about it. Others just know that they have to go to uni. No, it’s not about them being forced to do something against their will, it’s more of a realisation that there are few other options.

Part of this is to do with government targets to get more young adults into higher education.

Mostly it is the realisation that, getting a job that pays more than the minimum wage is dependent upon having more qualifications.

As far as I can see, young adults are all too aware that they need to have a good career lined up after university. The university education, pleasant and diverting as that experience might be, is just a stepping stone to a job where they can earn money.

Now this seems to be for a number of reasons.

The increasing numbers of people in the employment market means there is more competition for jobs. There seems to be a national dislike of doing “menial tasks” by which I mean doing anything well in a “service capacity” (how we need to change that attitude!). Our aspirations for success, if not for affluence and conspicuous wealth are so much greater than for our parent’s generation.

Maybe the biggest reason for “needing a good job after uni” is that it just costs so much more to go to university! The reduction in student grants, the emergence of student loans… student debt today is not just about the odd 50 pound overdraft, it’s about handling a debt the size of a small mortgage!

And are we preparing this next generation to properly deal with debt, to manage their money, to really dramatically increase their earning potential?! Well, not so much as I’ve noticed!

Getting a good job is one part of the puzzle. Are we encouraging our young students to become entrepreneurs, to give generously, to think differently? There is so much evidence to show that many are highly motivated by deeply felt values and the desire to make things better, to give something back…

Perhaps it’s time to give our young people the tools and let them do the job!


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Nov 05 2008

Obama opens the doors

Published by under Inspiration

Barack Obama goes where no black man has gone before

Barack Obama goes where no black man has gone before.

Today has seen a defining moment in American and in world history.

You may or may not be happy with the result. You may doubt whether this young – yes, 47 still counts as young in global leader terms – whether this young man has the skills to make a great President of the USA. What you cannot doubt is that you are watching history in the making.

Yes, now we can believe anything is possible. Barack Obama has motivated many Americans to get out and vote for the first time in their lives or following many years of cynical apathy.

John McCain, even in defeat is emphasising that we/he must look to the future, for opportunities to serve his country.

Martin Luther King had his dream, that his children be judged, not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. Have we seen that day in our lifetime?

Obama himself asked “Is there anyone who still doubts… that anything is possible”.

Amazing as this result is, we still need to remember that this successful election campaign cost this particular candidate more than 5 billion dollars. The Obama team has skillfully used new media, video, YouTube and email campains… and can you believe that YouTube didn’t even feature in the last presidential campaign?! How times change!

Maybe one piece of good news more locally is the recent observation that in the UK, for the first time in years, maybe ever, educational success has less to do with the wealth of your parents. So maybe we are beginning to recognise and reward talent.

Given that we spend so much of our time telling our 16 and 18 year olds that the exams they spend months and years preparing for are getting easier and their qualifications (by implication) are worth-less, perhaps we need to rethink how we shape our dreams.

Mind you, with the realisation that success can still cost a lot of money (whether for an election campaign or for higher education) we should also acknowledge that we need to shape fundraisers, people who can create wealth, who can motivate real people to work together for change, to make a difference.

What a future!


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Nov 01 2008

A WordPress blog to launch a new business?!

Margaret Collins

Margaret Collins

This week I’m changing. Launching a new training business… and to mark the occasion I’m creating a new blog.

I’ve used Typepad for writing my blog for a wee while now but, given the overwhelming opinion of many successful online business owners I took the plunge and turned to WordPress.

Fortunately I had a huge amount of support in making this transition, from Nicola Cairncross at The Money Gym – Nicola has prepared a resource library of videos and an Internet Home Study system for members of The Money Gym Club.

In honesty it has been fairly smooth; installing software, installing plugins, choosing themes… however the whole business has taken me the best part of two days! I really need to see the return on investment for my effort here!!!

However, for this first stage I just need to know, “Do you like it?”.

Over the next few days and weeks I’ll be transferring my web-presence here.

I’ll share with you the roller-coaster excitement of setting up a new business (Training for Universities) while making life-changing decisions and delivering high quality workshops across the country!

Last week I moved from the delightful surroundings of Bath University to The Royal Veterinary College, just as the temperatures plummeted and the snow fell… and I have the pictures to prove it!

For now, I’m just laying down a marker: Margaret Collins Online is here!!

See you again soon!


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