Course aims to prepare scientific postdocs for leadership

Postdoctoral trainees at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have an opportunity to refine their professional leadership skills through a six-session course starting in fall 2016.

The Postdoctoral Training Course in Scientific Leadership consists of six three-hour sessions over six months beginning in October 21, 2016. The sessions are held on Fridays once per month from 9 a.m. – noon in the DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Building.

Participants will hear relevant case studies from scientific leaders in industry, academia and government, and hold dynamic discussions about the traits and skills needed to successfully lead others. Postdocs will learn to navigate challenges and to recognize and refine their own unique leadership styles.

Course sponsors include the UW–Madison Office of Postdoctoral Studies, part of the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education; the Morgridge Institute for Research; the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation; and the UW–Madison Office of Talent Management.

“Traditionally, postdocs are highly trained in the technical aspects of their fields, but they receive little guidance or formal training in non-technical areas such as leadership, communication and project management,” says Imogen Hurley, director of the Office of Postdoctoral Studies. “Our course focuses on many of the hallmarks of successful leadership, including conflict resolution, creating high-performing and motivated teams, and conquering change.”

The course was offered for the first time in 2015-16 and received positive reviews from its opening class, with 73 percent rating the course material “excellent” and the other 27 percent “very good.” Instructors include Jessica Swenson, a UW–Madison leadership coach and consultant with more than 13 years experience; and Maureen Miner, who directs human resources departments for WARF, the Morgridge Institute, WiCell and WiSys.

“The development of this course is one of many collaborations between the Morgridge Institute and the UW–Madison,” says Debora Treu, education liaison for the Morgridge Institute and a course co-designer. “We share a common goal of training scientists for their current and future careers, and we were excited to develop this innovative course together.”

“I was on the job market during the postdoc leadership course and several interviewers asked me about it,” says Julia Gilden, a postdoc alumna in bacteriology and now a senior scientist with Promega. “The course provided me with a better understanding of different leadership and conflict management styles, which has invaluable as I navigate collaborative projects in my new position.”

The course is free and open to 28 participants. The deadline for applications is September 1. Visit here to learn more about the program and how to apply.

For questions, please contact Imogen Hurley or Debora Treu.