Case Study

Dr Paul Welsh, Research Fellow


Dr Paul Welsh at a Chicago Bulls Basketball Game1: How did you achieve your career having a work-life balance? ‌

I had my daughter whilst writing up my PhD, and I think that experience has actually helped me immensely in recognising the importance of a work-life balance. Clearly, my life was busy at the time, and it has helped me shape a focused attitude to my work. I try to work efficiently, and also try to be pragmatic about what I take on. I try to spend the most time on things I can see myself succeeding at, whether that be research proposals, presentations, or taking on a new student. That allows me to go home feeling that I have achieved something, and I can switch off and enjoy time with my family.

2. Have you found it difficult to share your attention between work and personal life?

I have often found it difficult to achieve a happy work-life balance, and it is probably only natural that we all periodically question whether we have got the balance right. I think it’s important to take a step back sometimes and to recognise that working as a scientist/researcher is a privilege, and most of us have some academic freedom. University of Glasgow has a great culture and tradition for that model of work, but it does bring its own challenges. There are times line managers need to help people achieve a better work life balance, and there are times we need to re-evaluate what our own priorities are.

3: Did your mentors or supervisors have a good understanding about the work-life balance in order to help you to find the best way to have success in your career and personal life?

Yes, my supervisors have always been very supportive of a work life-balance, and have encouraged me to use the natural time flexibility that comes with an academic job. Once you have been around a while, you realise that there are very few researchers who are not honest and hard working, and we all have a responsibility to support each other. I would therefore like to think that I develop as a researcher I will be supportive of junior staff having a good work life balance. If we all support each other it engenders a better working culture for everyone.

4: How do you organize annual leave in order to have the best moments with your family, but also keeping the work progressing?

I am very fortunate in that I have a very capable and trustworthy team. We are all happy to help each other out and provide cover for each other if needed. I therefore don’t have to worry too much about when I want to go on holiday. Again, a happy working culture with good relationships ensures everyone yields the benefits.

5:  Could you pass on some advice for young career researchers regarding the best balance to have a healthy personal life and achieve success in their careers.

  • Be pragmatic about your career. Universities publishes very clear and transparent point by point guidelines as to what is expected of researchers to move up the career ladder. Read them. Make plans to achieve them with your line manager. This helps plan a balanced approach to your career, and ultimately helps free up time for you to have a healthy personal life at a later date.
  • If your work is not accepted in top line journals, don’t be discouraged. Use you work time to make sure it is published somewhere, and then move on. Publish everything you can. Time spent publishing at an early stage of your career is never time wasted.