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Dr Caroline Redhead

When Caroline first engaged with the Prosper pilot, she was in the unusual position of having only recently made a switch into academia from a career as a practising lawyer. She had been a Partner within Burnetts Solicitors’ corporate/commercial team, principally advising clients from the education and charity sectors – a role she successfully balanced with achieving a PhD in Palliative Care from Lancaster University. During her year with Prosper she worked on the Reset Ethics project within the Institute of Population Health at Liverpool University. The Reset Ethics research explored the ethical implications of decision-making around ‘resetting’ non‑Covid‑related maternity and paediatric services alongside the continuing Covid response in the NHS.

Caroline is now working as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy at The University of Manchester, researching bioethics and socio-legal issues. Following her year with Prosper, she is considering future sideways moves into research roles in the commercial world.

Role on starting Prosper cohort

Research Fellow, Centre for Social Ethics and Policy, The University of Manchester. 

Case study conducted

August 2022. 

The challenge

Aware of the unusual contours of her career-to-date, Caroline wanted the opportunity to take stock of her position – to reflect on her strengths and weaknesses, and gain an outside perspective on her unique mix of skills and experience.

“While coming into academia as a second career is generally seen as putting me in a strong position, I was also concerned that I might be perceived as having broad experience but no specific depth of expertise. I wanted a chance to introspect and increase my awareness of organisations that might seek my particular blend of skills.

The Prosper journey

Caroline found the ‘reflect’ element of her Prosper journey to be particularly useful. Its introspective focus enabled her to more clearly identify her weaknesses, while the individual and group coaching sessions empowered her to make incremental improvements in those areas.

While having only recently made the jump over to academia, and so not immediately on the lookout for a move, Caroline nonetheless found engagement with Prosper colleagues and resources very helpful in terms of organising her thoughts about her future. She was able to develop a greater understanding of the range of opportunities “out there” for someone with her varied background and CV – both beyond but also within academia - and get a better sense of the options available to her come the next stage of her career. Practical advice on LinkedIn and social media use more generally made her more cognisant of the possibilities for personal brand-building, aiding the development of her professional network along the way.

“Prosper was fantastic for developing my thinking about where and how to direct my attention in terms of future career progression. When I started with Prosper my role was limited to a single project, by the end I was working on two projects along with teaching responsibilities and editing commitments for a book – so the ability to access resources outside of live sessions really helped me get the most out of it.

Next steps

After just over a year as a postdoc at the University of Liverpool, Caroline is now working as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy at The University of Manchester, researching bioethics and socio-legal issues. Caroline is now working on the ConnecteDNA project, a collaboration exploring how people involved in donor conception both use and are impacted by the rise in direct-to-consumer online DNA
testing. She continues to work on the outputs from the Reset Ethics research, including as part of a national collaborative of maternal and child health researchers in the UK considering the effects of COVID-19 on health
and care.

“My time with Prosper was very enriching; it has definitely broadened my horizons. Being relatively new to academia and recently ex-business, I’m still considering the possibilities open to me both within and outside academia. However, thanks in part to Prosper, I’m more attuned to possible future sideways moves into research roles in the commercial world – the Law Commission is an organisation of particular interest.

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