Having been a manager of vocational education and training (VET) both in the UK and Australia, I welcomed the opportunity to pass on my knowledge through lecturing, and simultaneously took the chance to explore how the practice could be improved.
My Masters Thesis explored the introduction of competence-based training, and my subsequent PhD continued this focus towards the specific application of this technology to develop frontline managers. Concurrently, I gained my first national research grant, and put together a team of researchers to explore frontline management nationwide.
Becoming a researcher is about intent and building capability. But the heart of the journey is about making relational networks and being mentored by experienced researchers in the field, as you explore the politics of doing research, managing relationships and producing frameworks to guide research teams spread across this vast continent.
My research has focused on exploring how workplace learning is managed, and how mangers learn. This involves both understanding how individuals and their identity are reshaped at work, and how work relations and practices are changed.
Managing learning and knowing at work have become critical issues both to business and to managers themselves. I find the dilemmas of the organisations we create endlessly fascinating as we oscillate between desires for control and direction and the need to change and do different things in different ways.
My interest has also been directed towards questioning research practices and I have initiated a national mentoring scheme for VET researchers. I have been on the national executive of the Australian Vocational Education and Research association for several years and am currently the national President.
While my work sits astride both the management and VET disciplinary areas, I have now published over 50 papers and been chief investigator in five national studies and four State based studies. I am currently a reviewer for four international journals and an assessor for the Australian Research Council.
At present, I am managing a collaborative study with the construction industry to investigate the impact of mandatory pre-site safety training.I have also had some most simulating relationships with nearly twenty higher degree research students. My current research students have diverse research interests in management development, reflective practice, virtual leadership, learning in the mining industry, safety training, the ethical dimension of takeovers, stakeholder management, performance improvement, and retaining the knowledge of mature managers.