Claire Townsend BA MA PhD (2001-2006)


I spent five years at the CUH, studying for an MA and a PhD between 2001 and 2006. The experience and skills I gained during my time at the Centre have proved to be excellent preparation for my current job. For the past 15 months I have been working at the East Midlands Development Agency - one of nine Regional Development Agencies set up by Government in 1999 to improve the economy of their regions, encourage entrepreneurship and skills development, take a lead in physical and community regeneration, and promote sustainable development. I work in a six-strong Strategy and Research team, which is responsible for gathering evidence and undertaking research to guide policy and strategy development.

"Although it was a difficult decision to leave academia, and I miss the camaraderie and supportive research environment of the CUH, I find my current work varied and challenging, and am glad to have found a job where I can begin to see the practical impact of the research I undertake."

My job has three core elements:

  • I manage research projects carried out on our behalf by external consultants;
  • I undertake plenty of research and analysis of my own;
  • I provide an information and research support service to internal staff and enquirers from outside the Agency (ranging from businesses planning to locate in the region to students working on their dissertations).

My recent projects have included:

  • managing a major piece of research on migration and its contribution to demographic change in the East Midlands;
  • preparing detailed statistical reports on the economy, society, infrastructure and environment of the region's rural areas;
  • producing a Board paper on cities and their contribution to the regional economy.

I am also developing a niche for myself as a speech writer for some senior staff - often on topics I know nothing about before I start!

My doctoral research focussed on regional development and identity in the East Midlands in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but I never anticipated that I would be using my knowledge to help explain patterns of economic activity two centuries later! In practical terms, my experience of handling data, synthesising large amounts of information into concise written accounts, delivering presentations at seminars and conferences, and planning and managing a research project, have all proved invaluable in my current job.


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