The Researcher Strategy Consultancy

The purpose of the Researcher Strategy Consultancy programme is to provide early career researchers (late stage DPhil students and research staff) with an opportunity to develop the core employability skills required for a transition into analytical, business, or policy roles in a range of sectors.

Particular emphasis is given to business awareness, teamwork, communication and leadership to complement other postgraduate training. This programme enables participants to build on skills that typically develop in designing, planning and conducting complex research projects. Whatever their career plans, including further research and academia, participants can benefit significantly from the programme.  

Apply for the Researcher Strategy Consultancy in Trinity Term


First or second year DPhils or students at an earlier stage in their academic careers can apply to join The Oxford Strategy Challenge. After completing the Challenge, students will be eligible to apply to The Student Consultancy.

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The Researcher Strategy Consultancy will provide participants with an opportunity to:
  • Submit a video interview as part of an assessment process and hone their presentation skills
  • Develop key employability skills such as business and customer awareness, strategic thinking, creativity, team working and communication
  • Utilise existing transferrable skills and develop new competencies to demonstrate in CVs and interviews
  • Tackle strategic business issues and opportunities and make a contribution to a sector
  • Gain an awareness of the commercial, social and behavioural contexts of professional environments.

Participants volunteer some of their own time to work in small teams, over a 3 month period, to address a strategic issue or business opportunity for a client organisation.

Our clients list includes start-ups, businesses, local and international charities, community organisations, University departments and Government agencies.

"RSC offers a lens into different working worlds – from the overall strategic aims of the organisation right down to workplace culture” (postdoc participant, 2018) 

“Thank you so much for providing this opportunity, it has been eye-opening in many respects and has given me confidence to apply my research skills in a non-academic context!” (participant in our sister programme The Oxford Strategy Challenge) 

The Researcher Strategy Consultancy is a team-based, experiential learning event. Every aspect of the process of this remote learning programme will present a learning opportunity.

Assessment and Training

The programme begins with an assessment centre task and two training sessions. You will then be placed in your team (usually of 6 people) and will given a short case study to complete as a team before the second training session. Once you have completed both training sessions you will be given your client brief.

Project work

Following the initial training sessions, teams meet with their client and then work together to develop solutions that meet the client’s brief. Teams have the opportunity to check in with the Researcher Strategy Consultancy programme co-ordinator mid-way through their projects, and Career Service support is available throughout the programme.

Graduation event

We will wrap up Researcher Strategy Consultancy with an online graduation event for you to network with others and share your experience and feedback.

Trinity Term Programme - applications now open on CareerConnect

 

Activity schedule Key dates (times are GMT)
Applications Close By 9am on 12  April
Selection Assessment submission by applicants online By midnight 15 April
Successful applicants invited to training 19 April
Training Online training sessions (x2) 20 April & 23 April (both 12:00 - 14:00)
Project work   Teams will meet with their client from 23 April.
Assessment video feedback session optional 30 April 13:30 - 14:15
Mid programme check in   2 June (10:00 - 14:00). Each team will have a 20 min slot
Graduation event Wrap-up and review event 14 July (12:00 - 13:30)

 

 

The programme is open to late stage DPhils (candidates in their 3rd or 4th year of a full time DPhil or over half way through a part time DPhil) and research staff (grades 6-8) from any discipline. Selection is based on factors that include:

  • creativity in finding solutions
  • approach to business situations and interest in commercial awareness
  • teamwork and communication skills.

We are unable to accept applications from Said Business School students, Visiting Students, alumni or those who have previously participated (you can apply if you have applied before but were not accepted).

First or second year DPhils or students at an earlier stage in their academic careers can apply to join The Oxford Strategy Challenge. After completing the Challenge, students will be eligible to apply to The Student Consultancy.

Participation in the programme is voluntary and unpaid. We will reimburse reasonable expenses for data collection. Expenses for travel or data collection can be reimbursed only through completing the University claim form and on presentation of receipts.

It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure they can take on this experiential learning project within the terms of their study commitments, funding or visa agreements.

Late stage DPhil Students 

DPhil students who apply and participate in the programme must satisfy themselves that the project is suitable for their needs in terms of the learning opportunity and nature of the work involved, and are advised to

  • consult their supervisors on how the programme helps fulfil their training needs and agree time commitments
  • seek advice on visas

Research staff

For research staff, it is the University’s policy to support individuals on fixed term (research or teaching) contracts in identifying and pursuing relevant professional development or training. In some Divisions, policies already specify an allocation of paid time for these activities; currently up to ten days per year in MPLS and up to 5 days in MSD. The University’s signature of the Concordat for the Career Development of Researchers on 22nd April 2021 signifies its commitment to ensuring all research staff can benefit from the Concordat entitlements, including a minimum of 10 days of professional development per year.  

Research staff should also ensure compliance with the University’s Council regulations on holding outside appointments and those of any funders providing salaries. University academic and academic-related employees (with the exception of Associate Professors who have colleges as their main employer; please see the paragraph below) are permitted to hold outside appointments and to undertake other outside activities, including consultancies, which require a commitment of time that otherwise might reasonably be expected to be devoted to University duties, subject to the approval of their direct line manager (where relevant) and their head of department or the chair of the faculty board.

Applicants whose salaries are funded from externally-funded research grants or contracts, or who are Principal Investigators or Co-Investigators on outside-sponsored projects, must adhere to the terms and conditions stipulated by or agreed with the sponsor and, if necessary, seek written approval from the sponsor. For example, The Wellcome Trust's grant conditions include stringent conditions relating to the holding of consultancies and these apply equally to individuals who are in receipt of Wellcome Trust research grants, as well as to those whose salaries are paid from Wellcome Trust grants.

Researchers who are interested in taking part in the Strategy Challenge and who are funded by the Wellcome Trust may find the following statement from the Wellcome Trust useful: "Funds provided on Trust grants may be used flexibly to cover the costs of formal transferable skills and personal development training courses for our postdoctoral researchers and fellows.” (https://wellcome.org/sites/default/files/wtx060353.pdf)

Permission may be required from a PI, Head of Department and possibly the funding body providing the award from which their salary is paid.

University employees continue to be bound by the University’s statutes, regulations and policies in particular the policies on Conflict of Interest, and Intellectual Property, as well as respecting the duties of confidentiality as set out in their contracts of employment.

Research staff are therefore advised to consult:

  • their PIs or departmental HR representatives on the terms of their contracts and wish to use some of their allotted time for professional development activities
  • the staff immigration team on visas.

Potential queries relating to research ethics in client project work will be considered in advance and on a case-by-case basis in accordance with University guidance on ethical procedures.

What will it cost me?

There is no cost to you for taking part. You won't be charging for your projects so there will be no charge to the organisations either. Expenses for data collection can be reimbursed only through completing the University claim form and on presentation of receipts.

How much time should I spend on this work?

You should put aside around 2-4 hours per week for the project work. However, this depends on nature of the work and how you decide to distribute workload in your team.

What do I need to take part? 

The programme will be delivered entirely online via Canvas. You will need internet access for the duration of the programme. The assessment centre will consist of a short video submission recorded and submitted on Canvas. Training will be delivered live on Teams. Client meetings will take place remotely. If you have any questions about accessing either the assessment centre, training sessions, or client meetings, please email courses@careers.ox.ac.uk

How long will the assessment centre last? 

The assessment centre task consists of a short 2 minute video which you will be asked to record and submit via Canvas. You will be given 24 hours to complete this task. There will be an opportunity for feedback on your assessment submission.

Does it matter what subject I'm studying?

No. We create diverse teams to work on the client projects.

Do I have to be interested in a management consultancy career? (Or know what I want to do yet?)

No. You will have an opportunity to further develop a broad range of transferable skills including teamwork, leadership, communication and business awareness. These along with the client relationship experience, will be helpful in a wide range of future careers. The experience will help you demonstrate your potential in applications, on your CV and in interviews.

I’m interested but don’t want to undertake a three month programme. Is there is a shorter programme available?

Yes, The Oxford Strategy Challenge is a shorter hackathon style programme. Once participants have completed an assessment task and training, they work within a small team to tackle a client brief over 5 days. The Challenge is open to all current students, including DPhils and research staff.

What organisations might I work with on the programme?

We attract new clients as the reputation of our programmes spread and most clients come back with more projects. Our past clients include larger organisations such as Kidney Research UK, Oxfam, Jaguar Land Rover and Santander as well as local Government, start-up and small businesses, charities and community groups.


If you have any further questions, please get in touch with us on courses@careers.ox.ac.uk.

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