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Rebecca Jones

Rebecca Jones

Rebecca is Professor of Coaching and Behaviour Change at Henley Business School.

  • Location: Worcester, UK 

  • Title: Professor of Coaching and Behavioural Change 

  • Organisation: Henley Business School, UK 

  • Sector: Higher Education 

  • Degree: PhD in Management from Aston Business School, UK

How does your usual day look like?

Every day is a little different which is one of the things I love about my role. I might be teaching, conducting research, in client meetings, hosting an event or presenting at a conference. The usual day described below is a non-teaching day.

My alarm normally goes off at 6.30 am. I scroll through emails and catch-up on social media before getting out of bed. My kids are old enough to sort themselves out in the morning, including walking to the bus stop, so I usually go for a quick run (outside in the summer, on my treadmill in the winter), before heading a shower and to get ready for the workday to start.

I work from my home office most of the time so I can dress comfortably. I’ll grab a coffee and sit down to start work – normally around 8.00 am. As I’ve already checked my emails, if there is nothing urgent, I start the day with a writing task as this is when I am at my best and can get the most out of my brain! I usually have multiple writing projects on the go, whether that is a research article, book, or client project. I have trained myself to be able to slip in and out of writing work in short bursts. This wasn’t always my preference but, is a necessity to keep writing and publishing as my career has progressed and I have more and more demands on my time. I try to keep my diary clear until 10 am, so on a good day I can get two hours of writing done before meetings start.

Between 10 am and 3 pm, my time is usually taken up with meetings. Meetings can be with colleagues and members of my team, supporting them in my role as the Director of The Henley Centre for Coaching. Project meetings, formal meetings as part of my role (such as exam boards), research meetings, client meetings – supporting clients on consultancy projects or meetings with students.

I always try to have at list one walk in my workday, often two (in addition to my morning run). Working from home in a sedentary job, it is challenging to keep my steps high. However, my husband also works from home, and we have developed a great habit of frequent walks in and around our scheduled work activities. I live in a very rural area of Worcestershire, so I am fortunate enough to have beautiful British countryside right on my doorstep. We tend to walk outside in almost any weather, and I aim for 70,000 steps across the week (I find that this is more achievable than 10,000 a day as sometimes I have a busy day when 10,000 is challenging but I can then normally pick up the ‘slack’ on another day of the week).

I normally batch cook my meals on the weekend so that I have an easy, healthy lunch on hand. I always prefer something quite substantial for lunchtime and a warm meal if possible (another perk of working from home).

I prefer to finish meetings at around 3.00 pm to give me the final few hours to catch-up on outstanding emails or tasks that I need to complete. My youngest son normally gets home from school at around 4.00 pm.

An important part of my routine is that between four to five days a week I complete a strengths-based workout at home. I like to do this at the end of my workday as I find it helps me to switch from work to home – this is critical when you work from home and the boundaries are less clear. From this point in the evening, I try to avoid checking my emails (and I never reply to emails in the evening).

Most evening are quite or taxiing the boys to various clubs or activities. My husband and I then chill out most evenings, catching up on some TV (our current favourite is Succession – we were late to the party with this one), before normally heading up to bed around 10pm. I always read before bed and my favourite bedtime reading is easy to read cosy mysteries. I can’t handle anything too exciting as I am such a book worm, if the book keeps me engaged then I stay up all night reading!

What are the things you like the most about your job?

I love the variety and the freedom to pursue my own research interests.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

Critical thinking skills, communication skills (written and verbal), leadership skills.

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

Probably when I read the letter telling me I was promoted to Professor.

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

I honestly can’t think of any! I am the type of person that I don’t find it difficult to make big decisions.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

To just go for it, despite not feeling ready or confident. Confidence comes with practice and experience. If you don’t practice and get experience, you will never become confident.

How did you get to become a Professor?

Around 14 years ago, I was working part-time in an admin role, earning very little and feeling very unfilled. I had a 4-year-old son at the time. I decided to return to University and studied for a part-time masters in Occupational Psychology. During my studies, I decided to try and secure a studentship to pursue a (funded) PhD. I applied to several opportunities and was lucky enough to be accepted at Aston University. I was seven months pregnant with my second child at this time. I started my PhD when my second son was 3 months old. The funding meant I could quit my part-time admin job. Over the next three years I completed my PhD full-time before accepting my first post as a senior lecturer at the University of Worcester, around six months before I finished my PhD. After four years at the University of Worcester I moved to Henley Business School with a promotion to Associate Professor. I have been at Henley Business School for six years and was appointed to the role of Professor on my third application (in Higher Education you apply for the title rather than to a vacancy).

What's the one piece of career advice you have for anyone interested in following your footsteps?

Always aim high.

What's your number one productivity hack / when or how are you most effective?

Academia is very political – being excellent at your job is not enough. You also have to be excellent at playing the game. Good mentors and sponsors within academia are worth their weight in gold.

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

I back myself in any given situation. Confidence like this is generally not seen as ‘feminine’ but, quite frankly, I don’t give a f&@k about what society defines as feminine …

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

With friends and family, more walking, eating out, entertaining at home, working out and travelling when we can.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

A healthy lifestyle is so important for managing and coping with stress. I eat well, exercise regularly, do lots of walking, drink plenty of water, get lots of sleep and set boundaries between work and home.

In terms of resilience, normalising failure as part of life and an opportunity to learn and grow has massively helped.

What would have been your alternative career path or alternative University degree?

I would have liked to have been a surgeon if I had tried (a lot) harder at school 😊

What's one of the last things you learnt?

I learn something new every single day – it’s one of the fabulous parts of being a Professor and a researcher – every day is a school day!

Who is a female professional that inspired you along your career journey? What did she do / say / or what are the character traits and professional skills she uses.

The musician P!nk inspires me. I have been fortunate enough to see her perform twice. She comes across as an amazing person – very humble and caring but also outspoken and comfortable in being herself despite societal pressures.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: Being organised.

  • Favourite beauty brand: Liquid eyeliner.

  • Favourite perfume: Paco Rabanne Lady Million Fabulous.

  • Book recommendation: Anything by Lianne Moriarty (for fun) or Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez.

  • Next holiday destination: Dubrovnik, then Malta (I love holidays!)

  • Your hobby: Strength training and travel.

  • Who inspires you: Whenever I see quality, creative, hard work - I get inspired.

  • Tea or Coffee: Coffee

  • Red wine or White wine: Red wine

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Morning bird

  • Cat person or Dog person: Cat person

Thank you Rebecca for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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