Why academics need consultancy and contract research skills

The problem

Consultancy and contract research are increasingly important for academics. It is not just that they count as a research output for the RAE, or that they build up contacts with people and organizations that could fund research and provide more consultancy income. They are important because more and more university departments are going to need consultancy income to survive. Job security in the face of fluctuating funding can only be secured if people in unfunded posts can switch to consultancy at short notice. The individual who produces consultancy or contract research income also has more job security.

Some academics are naturals. They are brilliant consultants, who have no difficulty in selling their services, and who keep their clients happy. Most academics are not.

They may be excellent teachers and researchers, but they do not know how to sell their services. When they do sell them, they undercharge, with the result that their teaching and research is financing their consultancy rather than vice versa. Contract research often ends up as consultancy without the money. It is seldom the work the academics want to do, and it is often not publishable.

Many academics do not meet deadlines, and keep working at the job long after the agreed time is up, in order to do the best job possible. The result is that they are not charging for their time, and, again, research and teaching are financing the consultancy and contract research, rather than vice versa.

Many academics leave their clients dissatisfied. The consultant's skills are very different from teaching and research. Anyone producing an academic paper for a client or giving them a lecture will have a very dissatisfied client. This damages the reputation of the university, the department and the individual.

Dearing's research (Appendix 4: Consultation with Employers) confirms that many employers perceive academics to be poor consultants.

The solution

The skills of the consultant and contract researcher can be taught. Most academics can perform well after training. In fact, many academics who are stale, and who are losing interest in their teaching and research turn out to be excellent consultants.

Profitable Consultancy runs a range of courses, and will tailor-make courses to meet your requirements. The cost is small compared to the payoff. The cost of a three-day course could be covered by a day and a half's consultancy earnings.

Profitable Consultancy is led by Dr Peter Bowbrick, an academic turned consultant. He has been an international consultant for seventeen years, working for clients including the United Nations, the World Bank, the EC, the Asian Development Bank, FAO and many national governments. He has been able to combine this consultancy with a string of research publications.

The courses are prepared by a team of professional consultants with many years' consultancy experience. They have a range of professional skills, and have each worked with multidisciplinary teams. They have worked on dozens of industries. International experience includes Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Africa Asia and the Western Hemisphere. Clients include the United Nations, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, FAO, the EEC and many national governments. They have also worked with a wide range of firms.

Courses can be designed to meet the needs of different academic departments and disciplines. There are also a range of courses of general application.

These are some of the courses that are offered.

Introduction to consultancy
(One day course)
Consultancy Skills
(Three days)
Marketing Your Services
(Three days)

For more information E- mail peter@bowbrick.eu.

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