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My Aurora story: Dr Rita Scully

‘Aurora is an investment in your own career and your own development’ Dr Rita Scully, a lecturer in the Built Environment at the Technological University of the Shannon, reflects on how Aurora women’s leadership initiative has helped her personal development and enabled her to find even greater fulfilment in her role.

“Looking at it from a very basic CV level, I was a lecturer before I started Aurora and I’m still a lecturer now.

“But today I’m also chair of the ethics committee – something I probably wouldn’t have put myself up for without the confidence and awareness of what I could contribute that I gained through Aurora.

“I’m much more open now to reaching out to colleagues and taking on challenges that, before, I may have stepped back from and said, no, I don’t think that’s me or my skill-set. Now I’m willing to say, yes, I have some skills and abilities I can contribute and I’m willing to learn on the way.

Aurora's broad reach

“What attracted me to Aurora in the first place was its broad reach. It wasn’t just for academics. It was also for support staff across higher education. That made it a broader fit than a lot of other programmes and the structure meant there was a lot of interaction with colleagues both within my own university but also from institutions across the country.

“That meant you got to expand your network automatically once you became involved in Aurora activities.

“Aurora focuses on four areas – how you represent yourself within class, within meetings, within your skills area and also looking out at the broader organisation and sector.

Seeing things from different perspectives

“Before Aurora, I would have tended to work with people from my own professional background – so in the construction industry. Aurora allowed me to meet people who come from a variety of different standpoints. So it allowed me to exchange ideas and see things from different perspectives.

“As part of Aurora, you’re given workbooks and homework which helps you broaden the areas you think about and it threw up topics that I may not have considered if I had gone through a shorter programme.

“When I started looking at Aurora originally, I had already been working as a lecturer for 15 years. I had already met the challenge of working with classes, building up materials and I had already done a masters and PHD.

“Aurora was something for my own personal development and to help me develop in a way that aligned with what was being developed within the university.

Investing in yourself and your career

“From your institution’s point of view, they’re covering the costs and the time you’re way. But you need to give it your own personal time as well. You’re investing in your own career; you’re investing in your own development. If it were something you were doing for a student or for the university, you would take that seriously.  So you need to take it seriously when it’s for yourself too. That is how you get maximum benefit from it.

“I encourage colleagues to get involved in Aurora but to give it some time to think about first. It’s important opportunity. You want to be able to contribute to it properly so it’s good to find the right moment in your career to do it

“I think it’s about giving it the respect and serious consideration it deserves. And take it as seriously as you would any part of your work because you’re contributing to it for others as well as yourself.”




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Aurora women’s leadership programme is celebrating its 10th anniversary! Since it was launched in 2013, more than 10,000 women from nearly 200 different institutions across the UK and the Ireland have completed it – all gaining new skills, bigger networks and fresh perspectives on leadership. To mark this special milestone, women who have taken part in Aurora since its very earliest days share their stories and institutions outline the role it plays in their gender equality work.

Join us as we celebrate a decade of leadership empowerment
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Becoming an Aurora Mentor workshops

Mentoring is now a vital development tool in many organisations and can be used to speed up integration through induction mentoring, to develop skills and support career progress as well as to address strategic objectives such as diversity, well-being or retention.

Evidence suggests that both mentor and mentee gain from the experience so the skills of mentoring appear to enhance wider working practices. This course gives an introduction to mentoring in an institutional context and will identify how to make mentoring effective. It will cover best practice guidelines to follow and give delegates practical advice in addition to well validated tools and techniques to use.

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Aurora Alumnae Network

The Aurora Alumnae community is designed exclusively for women who have completed the Aurora programme, offering a platform for ongoing growth and collaboration. It was established in recognition of the transformative impact of the Aurora programme. With over 10,000 women from nearly 200 institutions in the UK and Ireland participating in Aurora since its launch in 2013, the community addresses the continued need for support, development, and connectivity among its members.

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