I never set out to be a leader

#FemPowerment blog by Associate Dean Students in Creative Arts & Engineering

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Jess Power, Associate Dean Students in Creative Arts and Engineering.

Like many other women in leadership I have a diverse background, and if completely honest, I never set out to be a leader. My career is rather like “an Abstract Piece of Art”, when you step back and look at all the colours and shapes together it forms something quite special. Whatever you set out to achieve, being passionate and inclusive is key. Recognising that everyone has something to bring to the table is really important and be prepared to see an opportunity with everything you engage with, there are hidden gems beneath the surface if you take the time to look.




A bit about me…

I was born in Bolton, Lancashire and still reside in the area with my husband and daughter. I studied Fashion and Textiles at De Montfort University, graduating in 1996. This led to graduate employment at the prestigious British Knitwear Heritage Brand Jaeger. In this role I was able to test the capability of the latest weft knitting technology to advance shaping, garment fit and ultimately the style and quality of heritage knitwear. This innovation within knitwear garment engineering and my love of design led me to pursue a part-time a Master’s Degree at Nottingham Trent University. Juggling full-time employment with part-time study was not easy and at times, (like many others) I doubted myself (but it was definitely worth it). The work conducted during this period still holds relevance today and has been published extensively in trade press and internationally renowned peer reviewed journals.

Early in the Millennium, I took up my first research position at The University of Manchester, Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in the School of Textiles. Working as an integral member of an interdisciplinary team consisting of designers, technicians, mechanical and electrical engineers. This research soon evolved into a PhD in the field of technical textiles where I explored the deformation of 3D knitted preforms knitted from high performance yarns, again combining studies with full-time employment commitments.

Upon graduation I secured my first academic position as a Senior Lecturer in Fashion Technology at Manchester Metropolitan University. I accelerated through the ranks of management from Module Leader, to Course Leader of a flagship course; followed later by more senior roles within the faculty including, Vice-Chair of the Ethics Committee, Department Research Degree Coordinator and later Faculty Research Degree Coordinator. 

I became recognised for my inspirational teaching and passion to inspire the learners.

The integration of continuous peer feedback throughout the modules was deemed as exemplary by the student body which led to a nomination from the student body in the MMU Students Union Awards 2012 for “Outstanding feedback”.  In 2012 I joined The University of Huddersfield as Director of Teaching and Learning within the School of Art, Design and Architecture, a great opportunity to work across a board range of disciplines. I was conferred to Reader in 2015 in recognition of my sustained academic distinction in research, teaching and learning, academic leadership and professional citizenship within the area of Fashion and Textiles. In 2016 this sustained contribution to teaching and learning, leadership, research and scholarly lead to my nomination by the University of Huddersfield for an AdvanceHE National Teaching Fellowship (NTF). This was successful and led to new opportunities to develop entrepreneurship in learning which contributed to my promotion (2017) to Professor of Teaching and Learning in Creative Arts. 

I was delighted to join Staffordshire University as Associate Dean for Students in 2018. 

My focus on interdisciplinarity has enabled me to transform the student experience by creating networks for individuals, who share the common goal of transferring knowledge beyond the boundaries of their own disciplines, whilst developing employability and enterprising skills.

My expertise and specialist knowledge span’s both fashion and textiles and cross into other disciplines (health, engineering, education and business). The “Abstract Art” again – seeking out and playing an active role and networking has been essential to my personal development. I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Fellow of Chartered Management Institute, Associate of Entrepreneurial Leaders NCEE, Fellow of The Textile Institute (and sit on council), and a committee member of the Group for Learning in Art and Design (GLAD). It is about being passionate in the areas that interest you and seeking out opportunities and connections. I am currently running a project at Staffordshire University “The Creative Exchange” funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering and loving every minute of it follow us on twitter @CaeCreative.


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