Skip to Content
Back to resources
Published by

Prof. Dr. John Oliver

09 October 2023, 8:12 UTC Share

The doors keep opening

Two years ago I wrote a UPEN blog about my Parliamentary Academic Fellowship (PAF) with the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST). The thrust of the blog was that the fellowship proved invaluable on a number of fronts, but particularly the opportunity to develop a platform forfurther engagement with UK Parliament.

Parliamentary fellowships are a way for UK Parliament to ‘open its doors’ to a range of people from outside its normal sphere of influence in order to draw on their expertise and think about new ways of working. Importantly, this knowledge exchange process has been mutually beneficial and I have learned a lot from using my knowledge and expertise in a different working environment.

Two years on from my fellowship and the project I ran has proven to be enormously successful in terms of delivering change and performance outcomes in the House of Commons. I have co-published a journal article on the project with my supervisors and a REF 2028 Impact Case Study is well under way.

My previous blog post also talked about ‘opening doors I never knew existed’ and that continues to be the case with subsequent appointments which include: an advisory role on the Horizon & Foresight Scanning Committee which aims to improve the efficacy of horizon and foresight scanning processes to inform the identification of Areas of Research Interest used by Select Committees, parliamentarians and by parliamentary staff; and being appointed to the Community of Practice supporting the Centre of Excellence and Profession in parliament’s Enterprise Portfolio Management Office. This role aims to improve programme and project planning and delivery across parliament by sharing, advising, and mentoring on best practices and knowledge on leadership, management and organizational performance.

I would highly recommend the Parliamentary Academic Fellowship scheme and advise fellows to look for opportunities beyond that role as there are many doors to be opened! One of the big advantages of the fellowship scheme is access to a range of online and face to face training that is relevant to the parliamentary context, and if you miss a session, you can always watch captioned recordings and access the training slides.

I started my fellowship at the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic which meant that most of my contact with parliamentary staff was online. Whilst the fellowship has provided me with some excellent opportunities to develop my career in policy work, the lack of contact with other fellows during the numerous lockdowns meant that I wasn’t able to establish a rapport with them. I’m also not aware of a fellows alumni network and yet I’m sure that this would benefit ex-fellows and provide a readily available resource for parliamentary staff to draw on. 

John Oliver is a Professor in Strategic Media Management at Bournemouth University and his career spans academia and the business world in the UK and internationally. He researches the strategic transformation and performance of organisations and his work has had a demonstrable impact on UK communications policy and regulation and resulted in direct economic impacts made by FTSE 100 firms. During 2021 John undertook a Parliamentary Academic Fellowship with POST and the parliamentary libraries.

Back to resources