It has been suggested that I should take a few moments to introduce myself. I am, of course, more than happy to do so. Yet I will confess that I am not quite sure what I might usefully share on this my first ever blog post. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and while I have no wish to appear, either, secretive or aloof I genuinely don’t want to over-share…so mindful of the tight-rope walk that is blogging I offer the following.
I am – the Vice Chancellor informs me – the founding Head of the University of Suffolk’s Business School. This is, I tell the Vice Chancellor, a great honour since it carries with it a real opportunity to share in the future of the institution and the School.
In November last year the University invited me to prepare a short press release to announce my appointment. In this press release I made two observations which, since they signal something about my preferences and orientations, may be worth re-visiting.
In the press release I claimed that I am ‘an academic’s academic’ and I stand by this statement. I do however recognise that it is potentially problematic and more than slightly ambiguous. For the record therefore the claim that I am ‘an academic’s academic’ should not be taken as signalling to the uninitiated that I am poorly dressed and have personal freshness issues. Rather my suggestion is intended to convey an understanding that while I am keen to work with business, and while I am keen to prepare graduates for careers in business and beyond, I remain at root an academic who has devoted most of his adult life to researching the complex problems and dilemmas that managers face. Yes, that’s correct I have always been an academic. But I don’t apologise for that fact. I mean to say, you don’t looks sideways at your GP and say, ‘So you’ve never been anything apart from a doctor!’
The truth is it takes a long time to become an expert…and I’m still working on this project. That is why I am ‘Professor in’ rather than ‘Professor of Management’.
My second observation relates to jargon. I don’t like jargon and I try not to use it. I do use ‘big’ words of course and sometimes I have to write in long sentences. But I like my writing to be crisp, clear and elegant. I acquired this conviction from a local boy named Eric Blair. You may know him better as George Orwell.
Many years ago Orwell published two rather important essays that have had a profound impact upon how I write. These are entitled ‘Why I write’ and ‘Politics and the English Language’. If you have an essay or a report to write in the near future you might like to read one or both of these.
Thanks to President Trump’s focus upon ‘alternative facts’, Orwell’s ‘1984’ is now topping the best sellers lists again. If you haven’t read this book you really should. It is in fact the first novel I ever read…but then I never actually started reading seriously until I was 16. I might talk more about this in a future blog.