TAKE 5 with KIM
Academic Achievers Profile: Kim Dowdeswell
Award: Best achievement in the Doctoral Learning Programme, sponsored by the Department of Human Resource Management, University of Pretoria
Kim Dowdeswell completed her previous degrees in industrial psychology at the University of Pretoria and is currently a research fellow at the Department of Human Resource Management while pursuing her PhD.
Q1: How do you see the role of the industrial and organisational psychologist (IOP) change with the COVID-19 crisis?
One of the greatest lessons my mentor taught me was to see the opportunity in a challenge; not to fixate on the negative, but to see past the problems presented and develop options to drive a positive agenda. I would anticipate seeing work-life studies coming to the fore, both in offering practical guidance for workers and furthering our knowledge of human functioning in such times. The lockdown scenarios implemented around the world have work life and home life colliding together at an unprecedented level, with people facing immense uncertainty and dealing with multiple challenges in all life domains. The likelihood of this “new normal” extending beyond the current crisis also presents an opportunity to break down barriers to gender inequality through challenging face-time cultures, the ideal worker myth, and societal perspectives on traditional gender roles and the workplace.
Q2: If you could go back one year, what advice would you give yourself?
Buckle up; you are in for one hell of a ride. You will laugh, you will cry, but above all, you will grow. And you are not alone in your journey; don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share your struggles with your classmates, they are going to become incredible friends and amazing sources of support and strength in the times ahead. When you get to where I am now, you won’t believe how far you’ve come.
Q3: What did you learn during your 2019 study year that has influenced you most?
Throughout the year we were encouraged to think critically about the content we were covering, as well as to root our thinking and arguments in theory, using theory to explain the “why” of a position that we would take. This has not only informed how I approach my studies now, but has also influenced how I approach many aspects of my professional work.
Q4: Any tips for fellow students to achieve academic success?
Signing up to UP’s doctoral programme in the Department of Human Resource Management means that you need to be prepared to work hard, think, and read a lot. Speak with students currently in the programme before signing up to get a realistic preview of what it takes and what it’s all about. You need to have passion and an abiding curiosity for your field and for understanding the “why” of things, as well as a desire to become a researcher at heart (whether you intend to enter academia or return to professional practice). Don’t just pick a topic for the sake of getting your PhD; find something that speaks to you, identify a problem that you are passionate about solving and that will make a real-world difference.
Q5: Name the one to three people you look up to (in your study field or otherwise) and provide short reasons for your listing
Prof Dave Bartram. I had the privilege of working with Dave for several years and always appreciated his considered approach and admired his willingness to share his expertise and extensive knowledge.
Prof Jenny Hoobler. As our doctoral programme leader, she managed a delicate balance in supporting and stretching us, challenging us to think critically and to go beyond the obvious in the content we were covering while encouraging us in our ongoing journey to becoming scholars.
The late Dr James L. Outtz. His humble and approachable nature was so engaging that you could easily find yourself having an in-depth discussion with him about highly sensitive topics, and his passionate and tireless pursuit to promote diversity and inclusion for minorities and women in the workplace was truly inspirational.