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, FRSC, 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 academia leader. My extensive experience in pre- and post-’92 universities in different parts of the UK made me acutely aware of the lack of connectedness between academia and other organisations, as well as the frequent need for academics to be supported to engage with different sectors. Likewise, non-academic organisations frequently struggled to understand how to engage with a university.

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 am a tutor for the Entrepreneurial Universities Leadership Programme run by the National Centre for Entrepreneurial Education.
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.

Jenny Ames Consulting accelerates collaborations between universities and users of research
Developing a clear understanding and plan for working with other organisations
Translate research knowledge and expertise based in universities to address challenges faced by businesses and society
Translate research knowledge and expertise based in universities to address challenges faced by businesses and society

Career

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
Food Research
Jenny Ames Consulting accelerates collaborations between universities and users of research
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. I live in Reading and work across the UK.

I still count needlework and baking among my hobbies, which now also include gardening, swimming and learning to play the saxophone. I am also an enthusiastic member of the Tate and particularly enjoy modern art.

Testimonials

Jenny has completed some really valuable coaching work for us, supporting mid-career researchers. Jenny likes to understand the organisational context in which she's working so a lot of the careful, preparatory work ensured successful and genuinely valued outcomes following the programme of group-based coaching (this was evident from the feedback). Jenny worked successfully with researchers from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds and this contributed to the powerful, and we expect sustainable, group dynamic that has been established. Jenny is an exemplary listener and builds reflective evaluation into her practice at every stage. Her own extensive experience of the sector gives her a strategic, but also humane, insight into what it means to successfully build research careers in complex, organisational cultures.

Professor David AmigoniPro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise), Keele University.

I would recommend the training my colleagues and I received on writing impact case studies. The session was really useful and intellectually stimulating. I feel the day met the objectives we wanted, which was to help staff understand what impact and evidence is. The level of feedback each of the participants received on their particular case studies was very good. We feel much more confident in identifying the kinds of impact our research has on the world beyond academia.

Dr Samantha BroadheadHead of Research, Leeds Arts University

Over the last four months I have worked with Jenny on enhancing partnership and funding opportunities to develop our company’s research programme. Her knowledge of the food sector and working collaboratively with many agencies and groups has been tremendously beneficial. Her university experience has provided insight into a wider wide range of studentships and activities that could be of benefit to us. She is enthusiastic to work with, very committed to the task, and delivered very comprehensive reports on time.

Head of Research at a Food and Beverage Company

Jenny brings a supportive, non-judgemental approach to coaching encounters. She mentored me in a key career transition through listening and posing challenging questions that made me think differently about significant issues. Her listening skills and reflections enabled me to move forward with my thinking and reframe situations in ways that created opportunity. She modelled boundaries and respect, keeping our conversations confidential and taking issues seriously, to provide strategic input drawn from her deep knowledge of the Higher Education landscape.

Early Career Researcher

Jenny’s consultancy services have been a real asset to the development of research planning at our institution. She knew instinctively the nuances of the brief we provided, and her extensive network of contacts across the UK HE sector were invaluable in gathering quickly and efficiently the intelligence that we required. She operates with total confidentiality and we have full confidence in the information that she garnered. We anticipate further engagement with Jenny as we move forward the implementation of our relaunched research strategy and as we develop submissions for the REF.

Professor Rob AitkenDeputy Vice Chancellor, Research and International, York St John University

I worked very successfully with Jenny when she was based at Northumbria University and I was establishing a new career linking the food industry with scientific expertise in academia. Jenny was excellent at bringing together academics from a range of subject areas with non-academic colleagues to address a specific challenge. As a result of my contacts in the food industry, we were able to form various teams containing people from industry and academia to address identified challenges faced by the food industry. The industry partners very much appreciated the approach Jenny took to ensure that the research undertaken in the universities had real relevance to industry needs. It was a pleasure to work with Jenny – she is dynamic and always delivers on time.

Alan MarsonManaging Director, New-Food Innovations Ltd, Nottingham

Jenny possesses considerable experience of all aspects of research management and leadership across a wide range of subject areas. As Associate Dean for Research and Innovation she was instrumental in the Faculty’s success in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014. Jenny has particular knowledge and expertise around research impact. Two of our submissions (to units of assessment 3 and 6) achieved excellent scores indicating that over 90% of the impact was judged to be outstanding (4*) or very considerable (3*).

Professor Steven NeillPro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, University of the West of England, Bristol

Jenny is a delight to work with. Drawing on her extensive network of contacts, she was an excellent ‘local lead’ for a Healthy Cities initiative managed by University Alliance, and the founding Chair of our Research Impact Working Group where she brought energy and enthusiasm, coupled with detailed knowledge of research and collaborative working, to the benefit of impact managers across many different institutions. Jenny was also a significant contributor to the University Alliance Pro Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Network, helping to develop our multi-institution Doctoral Training Alliance.

Faye TaylorHead of Programmes, University Alliance, London
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