Dr Jennifer Cadman

What motivated you to do a PhD?

During the course of my undergraduate degree (French and Spanish) I developed a keen interest in Hispanic literature, linguistics, history and culture. I went on to complete an M.Litt degree, where I had the opportunity to explore aspects of this further. I became increasingly fascinated by literary responses to war, political exile, displacement and forced migration. For my M.Litt dissertation I examined first-person literary responses to Republican exile (during and following the Spanish Civil War). My preliminary research into this rich and diverse field prompted my application to undertake doctoral research to further explore this area. I went on to complete a PhD entitled ‘The Displaced I: A Poetics of Exile in Spanish Autobiographical Writing by Women’.

What impact did the funding from the Trust have? What have you gone on to do since receiving the funding?

The Carnegie Trust PhD Scholarship enabled me to pursue research in my chosen field and have the privilege of undertaking a PhD. I then pursued a career in the third sector working at a large UK-focused charity, where research has continued to be an important aspect of my working life. Undertaking a PhD is a life-changing experience, one which imbues researchers with a variety of skills that are invaluable across a broad spectrum of roles, fields and industries. My time as a doctoral researcher certainly fostered in me particular skills (and resilience!) that I have been able to leverage in a new professional environment. Outside of my role, I am involved in the sector more widely, as a: researcher; a line-manager and mentor for a voluntary-sector back-to-work programme; and an assessor and mentor for a third-sector graduate programme. In 2016 I became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

What does your role with the Terrence Higgins Trust entail?

My role has two main areas of responsibility: service development and cross-sector research. I work within a small team responsible for securing statutory income and implementing new services. Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) have been at the forefront of our field for more than 30 years and the Service Development team design cutting-edge and innovative services.

These services are informed by cultural, societal and behavioural shifts, wider academic/medical/third-sector research and make use of emergent technologies to deliver the greatest service-user impact in the most effective manner. We work closely with regional and operations-based managers, THT’s Executive team, public sector commissioners, government, and decision makers from grant-making bodies. Within this team, I greatly enjoy being a line manager and I find that fostering development is very rewarding. Given my research background, I am also involved in cross-organisation research, and find opportunities to shape organisational strategy and development through my involvement in operational projects highly rewarding.

Recent highlights would include: leading on a number of strategically important projects, being awarded ‘Staff Member of the Week’ and attending the House of Lords World AIDS Day Receptions. Having completed a third-sector management development programme, I am now honoured to be an assessor for the third-sector graduate management programme Charityworks and next year I will become a Charityworks mentor for graduates embarking on a career in the third-sector.

What advice would you give to students thinking of applying? 

I think that during the course of your PhD it is very easy to fixate on “the PhD” and “the viva”. If I could give my younger self some advice it would be to: allow yourself the time to look beyond your own field; enjoy the day-to-day experience of undertaking a PhD more; appreciate having the time to devote to a project and the rewarding nature of research and teaching.

Awarded: Carnegie PhD Scholarship


University: University of St Andrews, now a Service & Business Development Manager with the Terrence Higgins Trust

Latest News