In article by Clarie Arnold in the Guardian today:
In the past, when academics looked at their career progression, there were clear cut stages of development. An individual who is intelligent, hard working, and got along with their colleagues, would work through those stages: starting with a PhD and moving into post-doctoral work. They would then move into teaching and lecturing, with the ultimate aim of becoming a professor with a research team of their own. While the career path is no longer that straightforward, there are still options for those who are committed to a career in academia.
That’s interesting enough, but not particularly insightful. According to Arnold there are two career paths: fame and higher management.
One way is to embrace and pursue a career as a global researcher, operating in an international context. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to be the absolute leader in your field. The global research market is very competitive, so for an academic unable to compete in an international arena, this may not be the best option.
You could be TV famous, too:
For those who are building an international reputation, there is also the option of becoming a television or ‘media don’ – an intellectual who is active in the public eye. These individuals not only need to be leaders in their field, but must get to a stage where they become a “brand” in their own right.
Or you could go into management:
One feasible career move is to cross over into higher education management and consider roles such as dean or vice-chancellor, which were traditionally the preserve of academics nearing the end of their career.
Let’s unpack here.
In an environment where there are fewer ‘traditional’ academic jobs, the career paths recommended by Arnold are even more scarce, higher pressure and require vastly more time and resources. And, in the past at least, have required starting from the base of a traditional, secure, academic position. How a new PhD graduate with little research experience, few publications and no established management track record can become internationally renowned or allowed to manage an organisation the size and complexity of a university is clearly left as an exercise to the motivated reader.
Back in the day, if someone posted something to a newsgroup that was outrageous but presented with a veneer of sense, we’d call that a troll. Once a few people had taken the bait and responded with outrage, the OP would gleefully post: YHBT. YHL. HAND. I keep refreshing the page at the Guardian, but I don’t see that yet, which can only mean one far more distressing thing: Ms Arnold, a management consultant who “specialises in organisational strategy, change management and leadership development for higher education” is serious.