New pilot program maximizes the impact of junior faculty

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting a new pilot program at the UBC Vancouver campus that aims to engage junior faculty, primarily cisgender and transgender women, in the early stages of their academic career.

Naznin Virji-Babul, Senior Advisor to the Provost on Women and Gender-Diverse Faculty, is piloting the initiative, Maximizing Impact: Navigating Uncertainty and Complexity in the time of COVID-19, to engage junior faculty in maximizing the impact of their academic endeavours – particularly during this challenging and uncertain time.

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on faculty experiences

Last June, the UBCV Provost’s Office conducted a survey of Vancouver faculty to better understand their experiences since COVID-19. Many faculty reported an increase in teaching and service workloads with parallel decreases in research outputs, and an overall reduction in their ability to work since March 2020. These trends were particularly evident for women and junior faculty.

Some comments from faculty in survey include:

  • “I have really been struggling to balance everything during the pandemic, from work/life balance, to managing my lab remotely, to teaching, to mentoring my graduate students to staying productive…all of which is taking considerably more of my time than previously”
  • “I find myself so isolated and alone at a critical stage in my career where I need to make important strategic decisions under the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic…”
  • “I welcome and look forward to connecting, sharing and learning from other faculty members and have the opportunity to network and for leadership coaching so that I can be a more effective leader and a better mentor for my graduate students…”
  • “It would be fantastic to engage with other faculty, get strategic advice from senior faculty and leadership coaching from someone who is at arms-length to provide much needed perspective…”

Exploring the beginnings of a new program

This year, the pilot focuses on providing support through networking opportunities, learning sessions and access to one-on-one coaching sessions. While the program is still new and in the beginning phases, some comments from faculty joining the pilot program include:

  • “This is wonderful news! I am so excited to take advantage of this opportunity…”
  • “There’s so much to attend to, I don’t even know where to start…”
  • “I’m delighted to be part of this program and very grateful for the opportunity…”
  • “I look forward to making a plan for going forward…”
  • “I’ve never worked with a coach before so will need some coaching on how to get coached…”

In partnership with Yael Blum, Director Organizational Development and Learning and Cindy Goundrey Program Lead for Coaching Services, the coaching program provides one-on-one coaching for 20 faculty members in the pilot.

Here’s what the coaches have to say:

  • “We are off to a great start – excellent matchmaking!”
  • “Thank you for all your work and the team’s efforts to move this pilot program forward – we are on our way to an amazing experience!”
  • “I love working with new female leaders to inspire and empower their leadership so that they can be at their best in their roles and in the community.”
  • “I believe we can create a strong proof of concept of the positive impact coaching has to maintain clarity of direction, confidence in pursuit of one’s goals and overall happiness & wellbeing despite the current challenges.”
  • “This is so up my ‘passion street’”

Faculty participants will be meeting with their coaches over the next few months, and the pilot will conclude in June.

For questions about the program, please contact Naznin Virji-Babul, Senior Advisor to the Provost on Women and Gender-Diverse Faculty.

If you are interested in learning more about UBC’s coaching services to help you grow in your career, visit the Coaching for staff and faculty page on the HR website.