PhD heighlight series: Ms Leanne Faulkner (#3)

This week on the PhD Superheroes we have Ms Leanne Faulkner. In this rapid fire interview you can read about how it is to do a PhD in Australia as a mature student. Makes me jealous actually! 😉

Enjoy the read!

 Quick notes on Leanne:
Name Ms Leanne Faulkner
Countries she has academic experience from Australia
Currently excited about: Brene Brown, Evernote
Contact Leanne at:Insta @my_midlife_phd 
Facebook   Fortitude at Work PLUS Walk ‘n Work
Twitter  @FortitudeatWork
LinkedIn Leanne Faulkner

Hi Leanne, thank you for agreeing to this interview!

Could you introduce yourself briefly?

Leanne – a mature age PhD student at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. I am researching the mental health of micro-business owners and sole-operators.

I bring both my academic training and lived experience as a small business mental health advocate to this degree. I also am a sessional lecturer for the University of Newcastle. I often work independently too as a consultant and keynote speaker.

What kind of student/pupil were you as a kid?

I was quiet and reflective – quite introverted socially but LOVED public speaking and debating.

What did you study in your undergrad program and what was your experience?

I did a Bachelor of Education (Adult) and Master of Education (Adult). Both are degrees focused on helping adults to learn and I worked in corporate human resource departments for many years. I held many senior roles both in Australia and overseas working in corporate change management and training.

What did you do before deciding to go back for your PhD?

I’ve been a business consultant for quite a few years – I work as a small business mental health advocate. I help to represent the voice of small business owners when mental health support and resources are being developed. I’ve done a lot of consulting to Australian government departments and corporates who want to support small businesses better.

Why and how did you decide to go into a PhD?

I love my field of work and the PhD gives me an opportunity to really formalize my study in this area. I am constantly frustrated that the unique aspects of working alone, or as a micro-business owner are largely ignored when it comes to mental health in the workplace. That has to change!

How is your PhD program structured?

I am doing it full time. It is over four years via dissertation.

I did my confirmation a year ago now – and in Australia that is where you defend your proposed research topic and method. Once confirmed it’s fine to seek ethics approval and begin the research. I received ethics approval for my work last year also.

How would you describe your relationship with your supervisors?

Fantastic! They are wonderful mentors who support me every step of the way. They challenge my thinking, help me to grow as a researcher, and share the journey with me. They always make time for me and we meet weekly.

What is your overall PhD program experience like?

Wonderful, very challenging, scary, thrilling and daunting.

What advice would you give your younger self starting a PhD program?

Go for it and trust yourself. If you feel you want to do it, make the time to make it happen.

What have you decided to do after your PhD and why?

I hope to stay in academia. It feeds my soul and brain.

What PhD has given you (knowledge, skills, mental aspects, etc.)?

I have improved my writing skills. I have improved my research skills.

I need to keep working on my time management and organizational skills!

What are your other superpowers?

I love spending time with my family. I love date nights with my husband. I love being with my friends.

What is the hardest in doing what you are doing and how do you deal with that?

Spending time at my computer on weekends. I find it a challenge at times but I realise that it won’t be this way forever and the sacrifice will be worth it in the end.

What are you the proudest of?

My family, friends and supervisors. Everywhere I look I am surrounded by the most supportive, loving and wonderful people. I am so proud of them all.

If you could teach people one thing from your PhD, what would it be?

It is dangerous to assume that one way fits all – we must begin where a person is at to truly understand their experiences.

Who was the most influential person in your science journey, and how so?

There are so many! Brene Brown is an inspiration because she manages to connect academic research to everyday living – that is what I aspire to do myself in my field.

Small business owners are very pragmatic so that link between research and lived-experience is essential.

Who are people you follow on social media and enjoy they content and why?

All of the people I follow on Insta (@my_midlife_phd) provide me with inspiration and motivation to get to work on my research. They are all so helpful to my journey.

Carl Pullein is someone I follow on Youtube for organization ideas with Evernote.

Lucy Kissick is someone I also follow on YouTube because she’s a PhD student (or was) and first got me into annotating using Evernote etc. She is very easy to watch with loads of great ideas about student apps etc.

Are there any tools, resources or software you are obsessed with at the moment?

I use Evernote to annotate pdf’s and keep notes on journal articles I read. I am pretty obsessed with my Table of Contents for each section of my thesis and the articles I have collected there. I use it in conjunction with Endnote for referencing.

What are your future plans, upcoming projects, what is next?

Just keep swimming for now!

Where people can find you?

Insta @my_midlife_phd 


Facebook   Fortitude at Work PLUS Walk ‘n Work

Twitter  @FortitudeatWork

LinkedIn Leanne Faulkner

Thank you!

If you want to read more about doing a PhD later in life:

Postdoc highlight series: Dr. Jo Mensinga

1 thought on “PhD heighlight series: Ms Leanne Faulkner (#3)”

  1. Pingback: PhD highlight series: Miss Daisy Shearer (#4) - Alternative Postdoc

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