About Jenny Ames

MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Jenny Ames has worked in academia for 35 years during which time she has gained considerable experience of working with a wide range of non-academic organisations in a variety of sectors.
Director

Jenny Ames BSc, PhD, PGCert, FIFST, FLF, MAC

I founded Jenny Ames Consulting Ltd in 2017, following a 35 year career in academia. While in the university sector, I focused on research and collaborating with non-academic organisations, including as a senior academic leader. I have extensive experience of working in pre- and post-’92 universities in different parts of the UK. I also spent 2-3 months undertaking research in America each year from 2002 to 2007.

I have completed the following leadership programmes:

  • Senior Strategic Leaders (Leadership Foundation in Higher Education, LFHE) 2014
  • Fellow of the LFHE 2015
  • Entrepreneurial Universities Leadership Programme, EULP (National Centre for Entrepreneurial Education, NCEE) 2017

I was a tutor for the Entrepreneurial Universities Leadership Programme run by the National Centre for Entrepreneurial Education (2018-2019). I possess a track record of success in strategic leadership, leading returns for UK research assessments (RAE 2008 and REF 2014), leading research impact at institutional level and playing a lead role in several successful partnerships involving a university with non-academic organisations.

As I progressed in my career I became increasingly involved in mentoring more junior colleagues and I also personally benefited from coaching. This led me to study for the Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring Practice at Oxford Brookes University, which I completed in 2019. I am also a Member of the Association for Coaching (MAC).

The focus of my coaching practice is:

  • University researchers at all career stages
  • Individuals in career transition, regardless of career stage or sector

This background and perceived needs from academia and industry have led to the services we now offer to you and your organisation.

Translate research knowledge and expertise based in universities to address challenges faced by businesses and society

Career and Background

I grew up in Kent. I attended the local grammar school where my favourite subject was chemistry – reflecting my interests in all things practical and how things work. My hobbies included needlework and baking. By the time I finished school I was making almost all my own clothes. I also made my wedding dress and wedding cake.

These interests led to me studying Food Science at the University of Reading and a PhD at London University. A career in academia followed, first as a researcher and then as a member of academic staff, focused on applied research. Virtually all my research projects involved at least one company – mainly from the food sector. As head of my own research group, I was responsible for generating income to fund research, including the salaries of up to six contract researchers, as well as research students, in my group. Most of the research contracts were funded solely or partly by industry.

My first research council grant (from the former Agricultural Research Council) involved financial contributions from three external organisations – a bakery company, a food engineering company and a food research organisation. The goal was to understand how colour developed in baked goods. A member of the awarding panel commented at the time how unusual it was to have more than one industry collaborator on a grant application.

Many more grants followed, enabling my group to contribute understanding to the formation of flavour and colour in a diverse range of cooked and processed foods, including breakfast cereals, potato products, meat, tomato products, malts and beer.

My reputation as a good manager led to me being approached by a multinational company in the analytical equipment sector. A contract was established that led to a member of my research group (whose salary was funded by the company as part of the deal) developing analytical methods for the company’s prospective customers while the equipment was also available for different research projects in my group. This was a true collaboration with multiple benefits on both sides.

My research successes led to me being awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Food Chemistry Group Junior Medal in 1995.

Translate research knowledge and expertise based in universities to address challenges faced by businesses and society.

Following more than 25 years focusing on my own research in research-intensive universities, in 2009 I switched to hold a series of senior management and leadership roles in the post-’92 sector. Here I had responsibility for leading research and knowledge mobilisation across a school, faculty or university.

In these roles, I became familiar with research across a broad range of subject areas. These included human and physical geography, biological sciences, nursing, chemistry, philosophy, sports science, psychology, criminology, sociology, engineering, and many more.

I also had responsibility for engaging with various users of research. These included private industry, the NHS, museums, local councils, care homes, charitable organisations, and networks and bodies that represented employers in various sectors.

Around 2009, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) introduced a new component (research impact) into the periodic national research assessment exercise called the Research Excellence Framework (REF). Research impact is all about the difference university research makes to the economy and various areas of society. From 2010, I was leading on Research Impact for my school or faculty, from 2014 for my university and in 2017 for the University Alliance (a group of around 20 universities focused on the skills, knowledge and expertise needs of the economy and society).

My experience of leading Research Impact has provided me with great insight into the challenges academic staff face in translating their research to benefits in society. In particular, I have focused on strategic approaches to define and engage with the audiences and users of academic research.

In 2017 I left academia to set up Jenny Ames Consulting. Since then, I have worked with researchers from an even more diverse range of subject areas including the performing arts, education, physics, computer science, English and history.

I launched the coaching section of my business in 2019, after gaining the Postgraduate Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring Practice from Oxford Brookes University and Membership of the Association for Coaching (MAC). My decision to focus my coaching practice on people in career transition and university researchers reflects my own career. I was an active university researcher for about 25 years after completing my PhD. I have been a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Lecturer, Reader, Professor, Director of Research, Associate Dean (Research and Innovation) and Assistant Pro Vice Chancellor (Research). I have worked at seven universities across the UK over a 35-year career and I was a Visiting Professor at an American university for six years. Since 2019, I have gained considerable experience coaching and mentoring researchers from different universities and also delivering personal development workshops.

I live in Reading and work across the UK. I still count needlework and baking among my hobbies, but these have become overshadowed by gardening, including for wildlife. I am a member and treasurer of the Berkshire Group of the Hard Plant Society. I am also a member of the Tate and particularly enjoy modern art.

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