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Research management told to help those who want to leave

Image: Rachel Magee for Research Professional News

Earma 2024: Profession’s transferable skills should be promoted outside academia, conference speaker says

The research management career should be promoted more broadly so that those in the profession can apply for work outside academia or even outside the profession as a whole, an event for research managers has been told.

The European Association of Research Managers and Administrators annual conference in Odense, Denmark, heard on 24 April that some in the profession may want to opt for different careers in the future, especially given the impact of technology on their work.

Sofia Vala (pictured), executive director for faculty and research at the Nova School of Business and Economics in Carcavelos, Portugal, said the research management career “needs to go to market”.

The conference heard that there is “momentum” behind the development of research management and administration, but Vala said efforts nevertheless need to be “stepped up” to push recognition among non-academic organisations.

“For R&D institutions, recognition is stronger than ever…[but] it is time we step up a bit and make the profession recognisable as a powerful career,” she said.

Transferable skills

Vala said the skills that research managers have, such as being team players and organised, are desirable for other jobs. But recruiters do not understand what research managers do and therefore often do not consider them for jobs despite them having the necessary skills, she said.

She called for research managers to start marketing their skills outside academia and for leaders in the profession to help them do this.

Earlier on the same day, the conference also heard that AI may replace some parts of research management. While research managers will still be required, the growth of the profession may halt, attendees were told, meaning there could be fewer jobs available in the future.

“I know that people do not want to think too much about how technology will impact our jobs, but the fact is that some people might want to have a different career,” Vala said.

“We as leaders [must] make sure we are developing people to make sure they become the best professionals [they can be].”