• Dr Catriona Ryan

Subjective Leadership in and around the PhD Journey

The PhD experience was a turning point in terms of my relationship to self. It enabled me to forge a stronger awareness around thoughts and feelings enhancing confidence and a more subjective sense of leadership in & around my PhD research and post-PhD career. Developing a relationship with oneself is how to build resilience and deal with challenges that are anxiety-provoking. This skill needs to be taught to every postgraduate and PhD researcher.

Building resilience enabled me to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and realise my leadership potential. Subjective leadership (in my experience) is essentially awareness of that richer space of freedom which comes from a deeper connection with self. That richer space of freedom can work in a number of ways: 1. Enhanced critical and creative thinking: there was increased confidence in my intellectual PhD journey. This coincided with an internal sense of leadership in my engagement with the whole research and academic writing process. As a result (during The PhD) I developed a new 7-step, anxiety-reducing approach to academic writing which is the basis of my popular practice-based ‘Academic Writing: Reduce Anxiety’ workshop for PhDs & postgraduates.

2. Post-PhD career: that richer space of freedom also applied outside the research process in that my networking and publishing confidence grew. It also had an impact on my planning around my post-PhD career. It gave me the confidence to take a more flexible approach. My internal sense of leadership, rooted in a deeper connection with self (which I was continually developing), enhanced my awareness of a richer space of freedom to apply for jobs and be self-employed at the same time. This flexible strategy created more opportunities. As my confidence grew a natural subjective sense of leadership evolved and I was able to think more creatively about careers.

I honestly believe the key to a deeper self-connection is self compassion which is the basis of building resilience and that evolving subjective sense of leadership. My ‘Stress Reduction Techniques in Research’ workshop for PhDs & postgrads is based on my experience of building resilience around and within the PhD research process. It has helped many PhD & postgraduate students, especially during covid.

PhD Hardtalk Podcast Interview

‘Wellbeing for PhDs in the Academic Writing and Research Process: The Ph.D. hardtalk Interview!’ FULL INTERVIEW about my work is hosted by Dr Noma Mguni for the Ph.D. hardtalk podcast. I discuss my Online (on-campus when covid-safe) workshops for PhDs & their impact on the PhD Higher Ed sector both in the UK and internationally:

For more information about my workshops contact me at or via social media.