What attracted you to the role of KTP Associate?
When I applied I didn’t know what a KTP Associate was, but the opportunity to work between industry and academia sounded interesting. I was hoping that the research-led approach of the scheme would allow for greater creative exploration than the commercial projects I was working on at the time as well as a chance to expand my skill set.
To what extent has your understanding of the role been realised?
It took me a while to understand this three-way relationship and throughout the project I saw myself more as an ISO employee than UWS researcher. In hindsight, I would probably do things quite differently a second time around.
Had you heard of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships before applying?
No. The job was advertised via the Creative Applications Network which I had been following for years: https://www.creativeapplications.net/
What have been the most positive aspects of your role?
The most enjoyable part of the project - and a huge privilege - was being able to attend a number of international industry events to seek out the latest in immersive technology and present outcomes of the project to my peers. Some personal highlights include attending Laval Virtual Conference in France and the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, presenting work at Beyond Conference in Edinburgh, joining a UKRI Audience of the Future trade mission to Shanghai and Shenzhen, and speaking at pitch events and showcases at the virtual editions of SXSW and Sheffield DocFest.
What have been the biggest challenges?
Overcoming imposter syndrome? Especially during the early stages of the project, when the only person I worked with closely at ISO was my company supervisor. ISO has a small, tight-knit team and I remember just wanting to be part of it rather than doing this project that felt quite separate from daily business. But after a while I came to understand that the KTP was part of a longer-term strategic plan to make R&D a priority within the company and not at all separate.
Describe a typical day as a KTP Associate:
For me the KTP Associate role has been very versatile: Some days I would do desk-based research, some days I would develop interactive multimedia experiences, some days I would check out a new piece of technology, some days I would watch the latest in immersive content, some days I would interview stakeholders, some days I would attend events, some days I would give presentations, some days I would spend training and some days I would simply write reports or attend meetings.
Have there been any unexpected experiences or outcomes of your role?
I did not expect ISO to launch an entirely new R&D department (isoLABS) halfway through the project and make me team lead. What a significant pivot from the original work plan, major step up in responsibility and overall fantastic opportunity.
What training and development have you benefited from as a result of working as a KTP Associate?
The training I benefited from most were IDEOU’s Creative Leadership Certificate programme and Hyper Island’s Innovation Management course. Both have equipped me with essential skills, tools and frameworks to empower my team, foster creative collaboration, use storytelling to create impact and better deal with the ambiguity of innovation. I’ve also gained a lot from the many industry events I was able to attend either in person or virtually.
How would you describe the unique experience of working as a KTP Associate?
Working as a KTP Associate is like having a dual identity: Depending on the situation you may choose to wear your ‘academic hat’ and in other contexts it may be easier to connect with people and explain your project wearing your ‘industry hat’. As much as I’ve struggled with this dual identity, I’ve also played it to my advantage many times. Industry and academia move at very different speeds. If an opportunity presents itself, ISO can turn projects around in a matter of weeks or even days whereas activities that involve the university usually need more planning in advance and must be considerate of teaching commitments. I imagine that’s a common project management challenge many KTP Associates come across. I’m very thankful for a fantastic and incredibly flexible academic supervisory team and a very harmonious partnership throughout the project. I would also say that the knowledge transfer wasn’t just a one-way street from UWS to ISO but happened in both directions. Creative companies like ISO have their finger on the pulse and I was able to share knowledge on latest trends and developments back to the UWS team.
Would you recommend a KTP Associate role to other graduates?
There are so many factors that can make or break a good partnership. If it works, a KTP is a beautiful thing, but I don’t think it’s for everybody. I’m very pleased with the path the KTP has put me on and all the learnings I’m taking with me.
Which 3 words best describe your experience of being a KTP Associate?
Hear Verena Henn talk about this KTP