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What's (feminist) research management all about? Reflections from the ARMA conference

GRRIPP's Project and Finance Assistant, Hui Hui Mitzy, shares her experiences of attending the ARMA annual conference at the end of last year. ARMA is the Association of Research Managers and Administrators and offers the opportunity for people from around the world to meet and share best practice on all things research project management.

Aristotle famously wrote, "The more you know, the more you realise you don't know."

This was how I felt when I attended the 2022 ARMA Conference in November. It was an eye-opening experience which showed me how much work goes into the smooth delivery of a research project. I was able to meet and speak to other professionals working in research management across UK and learn about the technologies that are available for research management.

It was the first hybrid ARMA conference - 2 days were online and 1 day was in-person in Newcastle, England - and the first since Covid-19 hit in 2020. Everyone was excited to finally be able to meet and interact in-person, instead of through the screens of their computers.

The conference was jam-packed with excellent talks and seminars, starting from Professor Christopher Smith’s opening keynote speech on UKRI’s new strategy, to the University of Southampton’s Funding Development team’s session on the importance of positive actions and empathy. One of the more relevant practical takeaways for GRRIPP was getting clarity from Gareth McDonald, Head of Assurance at UKRI, on UKRI’s view on timesheets following an update to their rules in November.

Two people in a conference room holding up place numbers. There is a screen in the background stating that this is the annual conference of the ASsociation of Research Managers and Administrators.
Hui Hui Mitzy (back) and Nadia Jackson (front) at ARMA 2022

For those who do not know me yet, my name is Hui, and I am the project and finance assistant for GRRIPP UCL Management Team. This is my first time working in research management and I have been very privileged to work with a talented team who showed me what feminist management is about.

The conference highlighted to me how unusual the feminist management style of my team is and how much of a difference it can make to a project. During the conference, one of the prevailing themes was about how undervalued the professionals in research management felt. The consensus was that research managers and administrators can find it difficult to get recognition for their contribution and there is limited career progression in this field. This was news to me as that was not what I had experienced thus far.

In fact, I felt like a valuable member of the GRRIPP UCL team from day one. I was encouraged to share my thoughts and ideas, and never felt excluded in the decision-making process. I did not know how unusual this was until the conference. This made me appreciate my team and the feminist management approach even more.

By the end of the event I realised I was like the frog in the Chinese idiom of the frog at the bottom of the well, who thinks the sky is as narrow as what it can see through the opening. I came away from ARMA 2022 realising I only having a superficial knowledge of research management. This conference has certainly increased my knowledge and interest and I look forward to learning more.

Author Bio

Hui Hui Mitzy is the Project and Finance Assistant for GRRIPP, based at UCL in London.


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