CPD: Re-writing Wordgirl – Meeting my Mentor

The world of CPD (continuing professional development) continues into 2015 where yesterday, I had the first in a series of sessions with my new professional mentor, the London-based creative consultant Alison Branagan.

Bean Encounter 1

Nearer the end of last year, I attended a ‘Creative Enterprise’ business course in Stafford – ‘From Contact to Contract’ – from which course participants were offered a free number of hours with a professional mentor to help to develop and cultivate your creative business. I do so many different things in different places, with different hats hung on different hooks, I desperately needed this…and I think it has been perfect timing as I near the end of my PhD. After initially meeting with Peter from ‘Creative Enterprise’, he recommended a handful of people appropriate to my knowledge base and skills set. From the list, we decided on Alison Branagan, and it was one of the best decisions I think I’ve ever made. Why have I not had a mentor, an “Alison”, in my life before?! I believe very much in serendipitous synchronicity as manaXi and I would call it…it seemed to happen at the right time…and with the right mentor.

One of the helpful aspects of these sessions, is that the meetings take place and are arranged in ways and locations easiest for you, such as over Skype, by phone, or where you live…so Alison was able to come to Stafford where we settled into our first session at my usual coffee haunt and other office, Bean Encounter. Love that place. Especially their coffee and homemade corn cakes.

Bean Encounter 2

For over two hours, we spoke about PhD and post-PhD land,BCU, research opportunities, academia in the UK and USA, lecturing, the University Lecturers Union, workshops, freelance, writing and editing, words words words, online and social media presence, Rachel Marsden Canada vs Rachel Marsden me, Google+ maps and analytics, Wikipedia, academia.edu and Research Gate, head shots with styling, working internationally and the perils of working in and with Asia, banking and finance, business accounts and PLC’s, profit-loss-dividends-tax, branding and design, titles and taglines, logo-website-business card design, and more…basically me, myself and I, which I don’t think I have ever done before and it feels very strange! It was great to be guided to reflect on your work and practice but at the same time, daunting as to how much change I have ahead of me! Alison has given me a few things to do before our next meeting. Lists made…people to contact…work to contract…favours to pull in. Making it happen.







In the next session nearer the end of January, I am hoping to meet Alison in London, where we are going to talk through the follow-ups we discussed such as getting my CV down to two pages (this is possibly one of the hardest tasks I’ve been told to do as it’s currently eleven pages long, not succinct in any way – tips needed!), then we will focus more on the financial side of things, the world of tax, and also copyright. I want to thank you Alison for everything to date. Can’t wait to continue this relationship.

Before this, next week I will be attending a two-day ‘Start-Up Your Creative Business’ workshop…another ‘Creative Enterprise’ course. It is aimed at people in the early stages of planning a creative business (in arts, design or media) and covers key topics including:

  • Marketing and Branding;
  • Cash Flow, Budgeting and Pricing your Goods/Services;
  • Intellectual Property;
  • Creative Values and how they relate to your Business Model;
  • Networking;
  • What type of business you will be running e.g. a LTD Company, Social Enterprise, Sole Trader etc.

It aims to give you an action plan of what to do next to get your own business started. It’s going to be a two-day intensive and no doubt build on everything that I’ve already planned out so far. It’ll keep my new business brain fuelled and fired up. Is there enough room in there? I’ll make room.

So 2015…the time to re-think, re-brand and re-write wordgirl ready for post-PhD land, for the next step, for the next chapter in my book of professional life. It is going to be hard work and “back to school” as I learn a new world of business and finance and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. My social and online world may well go on a hiatus whilst the change happens, but I’ll let you know. Watch this space…2015 is going to be interesting in so many ways.


  1. Hey Just read your post and found it very inspiring, I want to meet Alison!!

    The project I am doing is a bit like a PHD and I need to consider where I am heading now the big 30 is upon me..

    Are you around to Skype this weekend? and are you still coming over?

    hugs and thanks for your constant inspiration!

    Liz xx

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