Trish is a current student of the Masters in Innovation, Creativity and Leadership (MICL). After successful completion of her first year she is now undertaking the second year of the part-time course and will be embarking on her dissertation in 2014. Trish worked for News International until 2012 and now runs her own consultancy business http://www.trishkillconsulting.co.uk
Tell us how you became a MICL student.
“I initially made my first enquiries in April 2012 and started the MICL course in October 2012. 2012 was a big year, I hit the big 50; and having spent 15 years at ‘News’ building a challenging and rewarding career with lots of long days and late nights, I decided to leave and try new things. I came into News when I was in my mid-30s with an appetite for making up for lost ground in my career. I put an MBA I’d started on hold as promotion and responsibilities took over. So, there was some ‘unfinished business’ which I aim to complete through the MICL. MBA studies certainly served their purpose, however I needed a new angle, which the MICL is certainly delivering.
What helped you in your decision to become a MICL student?
“I liked the feel of City and it was the only University offering a combination of creativity, leadership and innovation. I was looking for something new and like me the MICL was finding its feet – a shared challenge. I came to an open evening in April and met Dr Sara Jones the Course Director and two students from the previous year. I was sure that I’d find it difficult, and getting back into study was daunting so, when signing up for the MICL which started in October 2012, I also signed up for a ten week creative writing course which started that May as a precursor. Completing that meant I was able to get myself comfortable with my surroundings and that was reassuring. I have been thrilled by how its all worked out, it was the shot in the arm I needed.
Can you walk me through what it’s like to be a mature student?
“Most of us forget how old we are until we are looking in the mirror! The MICL is about a new way of looking at things. On a peer group level I have had the opportunity to be helpful and useful –importantly it’s reciprocated. You never know when an avenue of learning is going to open up. My advice to someone would be to be prepared to jump in and make a splash. People will support you making mistakes as long as you do likewise for those around you.
Can you talk about an encounter on the MICL that completely took you by surprise?
“The ‘Creative problem solving and leadership’ (CPSL) module in the first semester helped us be patient with each other. This meant that when we started the ‘Leading creative design’ module there was this established climate of good will and respect, and we were able to identify with each other’s problem solving styles. All credit to Andy Wilkins our CPSL tutor. He uses principles that encourage collaboration and resists the creation of factions. We have had teams that were competing against other, yet still shared information. It was very sporting and supportive. We were also able to draw on our creative writing/script writing module in our team design project. Realising how to use the MICL modules to build a holistic approach to projects was very satisfying.
You’ve set up your own consultancy. What advice would you give on becoming an independent consultant?
“My key advice is to go slowly and consider the following
• If you’re employed then take a year to plan towards becoming an independent consultant.
• Be very careful about the profile you want to develop if you want to develop one at all. You have to maintain and evolve it.
• Get an accountant, and decide if you are a self employed or limited company and find out about the different responsibilities, liabilities and opportunities associated with each..
• Have a rate-card for your products and services and know your own value.
• Gather information and understand your market. Look at what others are offering and be flexible and imaginative about how you can give a company what they’re looking for without devaluing your rate-card.
• There are times when you have to say NO to work. Even in lean times.
What challenges have you had to face working as an independent consultant and studying, how did you overcome these?
“You’ve got three things that you are managing. You’re managing the work you’re doing for your customer, the work you’re doing for yourself (unpaid because you’re not paying yourself), and then you have your study. It can be stressful but there are peaks and troughs. It can also be difficult on your own, so find your network. Having a range of people, who aren’t necessarily doing the same thing that you’re doing, but in the same place enables you to compare notes and give each other a well done. Express an interest in the people around you and be flexible. Humility and humour will also take you a long way.
What books on the MICL have inspired you?
‘Jack’s Notebook’ by Gregg Fraley, I loved reading it before I joined the MICL. It gave me the courage to persist in the first few weeks in the Masters degree, and as a result I couldn’t wait to get to the creative problem solving module. ‘Creativity’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was both insightful, and useful, and helped me to prepare for the interview I did with Andrew Mullins of the Evening Standard.
Watch Trish’s interview with Andy Mullins, Evening Standard http://www.city.ac.uk/centre-for-creativity-in-professional-practice/research/student-projects#Trish