Five questions: Professor Candice Harris

26 Sep, 2018
Professor Candice Harris

We asked Professor Candice Harris five questions about her research at the time of her Inaugural Professorial Address.

Describe your favourite research project?

A current project I am really enjoying right now is one on corporate mothers that I am doing with Rebecca Armour who founded The Corporate Mother's Network and Professor Jarrod Haar. The network has 1000 members here in Auckland. Our research sought to understand ways that members of the network achieve work-life balance and other factors influencing well-being and job outcomes. We have some great findings to discuss with industry and from which to publish academic outputs.

What gets you up in the morning?

I really enjoy my role here at AUT. I work with fabulous colleagues in the large and vibrant Department of Management. I am proud of the work we all do to educate and excite students about the impact they can make in organisations for employee engagement, organisational performance and sustainability.

What advice would you give to new or aspiring researchers?

Find a field you are passionate about. Learn the craft of good research. Understand that academic publishing is how we share our research with our peers. Be open to other ways to communicate your research with wider communities and industry. Operate with ethics – look after your participants and co-researchers. For new academics, put some thought into how you plan to transition from your PhD to having an independent research platform. Build strength as there are setbacks in research projects and knockbacks when publishing. Learn to ride the research waves, as over a long career they make for a rewarding journey.

What does being a Professor mean to you?

I see the attainment of the role of Professor as being both a privilege and a responsibility. It signals you have the respect of the institution as to the calibre of your scholarship and an obligation to continue to contribute your leadership skills to its future benefit. I feel that Professors should continue to align their efforts in the teaching and learning, research, and service and engagement arenas with progress towards the University's goals.

What are your hopes for your area of expertise?

Research to date around working mothers and their experiences often problematises the issues they face, which can set them up to be solvable.  So, let's take away the pressure of trying to completely clear the home path for working mothers and instead direct energy to understand the negotiation of tensions.  Children will still get sick at times, there will still be school holidays and working mothers will still at times need to do paid work at home, which all are managed as a part of normal life.

In some ways, the tensions working mothers face are desirable as many of us want to raise kids and have a career.  Pretending tensions don't exist I feel has led mothers to downplay aspects of our identity at work and can make us feel overwhelmed as individuals which can impact on our wellbeing.

I feel that adopting a stakeholder approach to address the idea of tensions is a more novel approach. To bring the tensions working mothers to juggle and negotiate out of the shadows, to move beyond the neoliberal wave of agency of the individual to just cope.

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