‘Hello world!’ – It was the default first title but, actually, it’s a pretty perfect introduction for me to a world of blogging and you to a world of KTPs!
Eighteen months into my KTP project, now seems like a really good time to give you all some first hand experience of what it is like to be a KTP Associate- a little-known but nonetheless, very exciting job!
A view of Wisley Garden- one of many reasons why I love my job!
But first things first- so let’s start with the obligatory bit about me!
I’m Sarah Al-Beidh. My background includes a Natural Sciences degree (Cambridge Uni.), a Master of Research in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation and a PhD investigating the fig/ fig- wasp mutualism (both Imperial College). Add in some waitressing (I make a mean soya latte) and a stint as a health food store manager and that’s – quite scarily- the past decade in a nutshell! Current post: KTP Associate with the Universityof Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society.
To set the scene, on this first post, I think it’s worth getting us all up to speed with Knowledge Transfer Partnerships or ‘KTPs’. These are a part-government funded initiative set up over 30 years ago to encourage further collaboration between universities and industry – in particular to help transfer skills and knowledge between the two partner organisations and make them both more competitive in their current markets.
Each KTP project involves 3 partners: the Knowledge Base (the university), the Company and the Associate. Projects can last anywhere from 26 weeks to 3 years and businesses of all sizes and sectors can take part from third sector charities to public sector organisations, micro businesses to large enterprises.
KTP projects are designed to provide benefits for all three partners; the company gains knowledge and expertise from university academics , the university makes their research more applied and relevant to businesses and the Associate gains lots of new skills from project-specific ones to those that are perhaps more broadly ‘transferable’ such as project management and negotiation skills.
Another unique aspect of KTPs that sets them apart from the vast majority of other jobs is the Training and Development budget. Associates are encouraged to spend 10% of their time involved in Training and Development and have a budget which enables them to attend courses or training with an aim to develop new skills or improve existing ones. Crucially, this allowance doesn’t all need to be spent on skills relevant to the KTP project but can be used to improve the employability and career goals of the Associate in the longer term. This allowance is a real luxury and is something that many of us will have never encountered in previous jobs and are unlikely to be presented with again!
KTP Associates own their project and are supported by experienced staff from the company and the Knowledge Base. Typical challenges your project could address include designing and introducing new or improved products or processes, re-organising production facilities, introducing improved quality systems and technology, or developing and implementing marketing strategies to break into new markets. No previous knowledge or experience of specific project management techniques are expected of Associates – many principles are picked up through access to training providing by the KTP and many others simply through day-to-day involvement in the project.
KTP project management notes!
My project involves the University of Reading (UoR) and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Like the vast majority of Associates, whilst employed by the university, I am based full- time at the Company Partner which in my case is RHS Garden Wisley near Woking, Surrey. Out of all the Associates, I’m pretty confident that I would win the award for having the best view from my office window!
Having given you a lot of information to take in already, I’ll leave it till next week to tell you a bit more about my project and the sorts of things I get involved in at Wisley. There may also be a few more glorious Wisley pictures thrown in for good measure!