What is platinum?

Platinum has been called “white gold”; its name derives from the Spanish platino, meaning “little silver”.

Platinum is special – in chemical properties, colour and symbolism. Platinum is the name of a new book – more on that below.

The alchemical symbol for Platinum connects those of silver (moon) and gold (sun).

  • Platinum is a chemical element: symbol Pt. atomic number 78. atomic mass. 195.084 u.
  • Platinium is a set of six noble transition metals: ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, platinum.
  • Platinum is a precious metal: Grey-white luster, one of rarest elements in the Earth’s crust. High melting point, electrical conductor, resistant to corrosion. Weighs 60% more than karat gold. Industrial use in automotive catalytic converters.
  • Platinum jewellery is: Up to 95% pure, hypoallergenic, tarnish resistant. Used in ancient Egypt, 3,000 years ago. Worked by South American Incas. Appeared in Europe, 1780, court of Louis XVI of France. Prized by great jewellers throughout history. Koh-i-Noor and other famous diamonds are secured by platinum settings.
  • Platinum blonde is: 1931 movie + nickname of Jean Harlow created by Howard Hughes’ publicity director.
  • Platinum brand is: prestigious sub-brand, a mark of high perceived status + emotional worth. As a credit card, platinum sits above gold – you pay for the privilege of high-roller spending.
  • Platinum record award is: a measure of commercial success introduced by Recording Industry Association of America in 1976 for one million record sales – starting with The Eagles’ Greatest Hits album.
  • Platinum anniversary is: a celebration of 70 years. Reflective of purity, rarity, strength and durability.  In the UK the Queen acknowledges 50th, 60th and 70th wedding anniversaries – and each subsequent year from the Platinum milestone.

Clearly it makes sense for Platinum to be the name chosen for the new book that has been published by CIPR to celebrate its 70th anniversary.

It is a crowdsourced anthology of essays, written by over 50 authors. Platinum comprises 45 chapters, plus an introduction and three forewords. The body is ordered into five key areas: perspectives, practice, performance, provocation and future potential of public relations.

This is an interesting book – but it isn’t a history of the Institute between 1948 and 2018. There are chapters that reflect on aspects of public relations over the past seven decades, or more specific periods. There are many more chapters that focus on contemporary aspects only.

Some chapters offer a vision of what will, or rather, might be – a brave move in our volatile age. Only time will tell what history will reveal of the Platinum authors’ recollections, reflections, assertions and predictions.

As with any collection – particularly one that is crowdsourced – the contents reveal a wide range of thinking. Nevertheless, the book achieves its aims of asserting the value of PR as a management discipline, as part of the CIPR’s seventieth anniversary celebrations.

As a commemorative work, Platinum offers breadth rather than depth of insight into current perceptions and perspectives of public relations – whether the essayists acknowledge history or not.

Platinum is certainly worth a read.

Platinum is available in print, ebook and pdf.  Sales support iProvision, the charity for CIPR members.

Concluding thoughts in relation to my chapter:

Yaxley, H. (2018). Professional qualifications: Past, present and future. In: Platinum. Waddington, S. (Editor). London: CIPR.

The opportunity to write an essay in Platinum enabled me to put on record the history of CIPR’s involvement in professional qualifications.

As well as research undertaken using my own historical collection of PR books and other literature (particularly Jacquie L’Etang’s excellent text: Public Relations in Britain), I visited the History of Advertising Trust in Norfolk.

This is where the archives of the Institute are held and it is a fantastic resource. Any short essay cannot do justice to the richness that can be found within original papers and publications. I intend to expand further in future on my initial research.

It is clear that from its beginnings, the Institute has played a key role in championing professional qualifications.

One of the aims of the founders of the IPR in 1948 was the institution of examinations for new entrants seeking to make a post-war career in the relatively new field of PR.

The IPR founders intended that education would contribute towards establishing PR as a profession. The first six candidates were awarded a diploma in 1958. Last week, a further 150 committed professionals became #CIPRQualified. My calculations suggest that to date around 12,000 qualifications awards have been made by IPR (now the Chartered Institute of Public Relations).

Whilst, education has been a constant thread in the Institute’s history, this has been entwined with resistance. This meant that the focus in 1958 was more on personality than professionalism; on being the “right” kind of person. Over time, this changed to education based on competence gained from studying and applying a robust body of knowledge and evidence-based practice.

In 2018, the value of the CIPR’s professional qualifications lies not in assessing personal qualities of individuals but in supporting their professional development, career advancement and strategic contribution in the workplace.

Looking forwards, the challenge remains to encourage more practitioners to become CIPR qualified and realise the benefits this delivers to themselves, their employers and the wider PR profession.

Further details of the CIPR’s current suite of professional qualifications can be found via:


In a crisis, what kind of connection do you want with an organisation – machine or human?

Will you rely on an app or seek a human voice? When you call – and eventually get through – do you want an automated response to push button 1, then 2, then 3 – or to speak with a human?

Would you prefer that decisions are made about a crisis response on the basis of data – or as a result of human empathy? From experience and expertise or because the computer says so – or doesn’t.

Attending the recent Deloitte Crisis Management Conference, presenters who’d been involved in major crisis situations told human stories. Their own experiences. Those of victims or others affected. Those who sought to help. Those who struggled in some way.

Each story was about the humanity required in crisis management.

Organisations are not human – but humans form organisations. Companies and charities; public bodies, political organisations and parliaments; emergency services and volunteers. We are humans. Helping humans.

The media should never forget that those affected are humans. Never lose their humanity – as was clear in many of the crisis situations narrated.

Reporting the news of a crisis should not be left to technology.

Invariably in a crisis, it appears that technology proves itself to be problematic rather than able to enhance a human response.

Phones systems unable to cope. Data that’s inaccurate. Reliance on equipment that was too complex in the heat of the moment. Whilst humans create these, they are invisible – allowing the technology to take centre stage.

The machine human interface raises questions. The more we rely on technology, the more automated this is in a crisis situation, the more the machines learn and react, the more decisions are derived from big data, the more the intelligence is artificial – the greater the risk.

Humans are unreliable. We are unpredictable. We are affected by the emotion of a crisis situation. We rise to the occasion or we collapse through the pressure. We find inner strength and support each other.

We are human. Those we are communicating with, building relationships with, seeking to help, who we work with in resolving a problem – are human.

In a crisis a machine can only respond as it is programmed. Technology can only operate within its set parameters. Data is history, even as it emerges. It relies on precedent in making predictions.

It takes a human to decide how to react to this situation. What is happening now. What could happen as predicted by the machines or understood from our training, our instincts. Our ability to put ourselves in the position of others. To be able to override history and act to make history.

The digital systems and manuals need to support the humans. We are not the support to the technology, the machines, the data, the AI.

We must never forget that a crisis requires humanity. Nor that it is in the chaos of a crisis that our humanity is most needed.

This is especially true for those of us who have responsibility for communications and relationships. Our reputation lies in our human response. Not false apologies, nor constructed excuses. Not obfuscation or panic. Not in hiding from the reality of how others feel, how they react, how they hold us to account.

We are the humans that understand humans. We should speak from our humanity and that of our leaders. We are professionals but we are people.

That’s the least – and the most – we can be.

This is one of a trilogy of blog posts inspired by attending the Deloitte Crisis Management conference. The other two posts are:




There has been a lot spoken and written about mental health in recent months.

The prompt for this post is my own story of recovery over the past year after completing my Phd and the decade since my dad died. This has been a process of grief and re-engaging with life.

Triggers to mental health issues can occur anytime to anyone. The cause can be new experiences, ongoing ones or circumstances from our pasts. Unfortunately, the road to recovery is rarely simple or straightforward. It should never be taken for granted.

The focus around Mental Health Awareness Week in May was greater this year than ever before. This public relations initiative undoubtedly achieved its objective in awareness terms, and more importantly, in terms of outcomes relating to knowledge, understanding, attitudes and behaviour regarding stress and mental health.

But recovery from mental health challenges that cause anxiety, depression, fear, and other deep emotional trauma is not a matter of a single week. It requires more than a PR initiative or short-term public awareness of the issue.

There was a question behind this year’s focus on male suicide:

Stress: are we coping?

Coping involves responding to life’s challenges minute by minute, day by day, month by month. That’s why the Mental Health Foundation, as with many organisations and individuals, is dedicated year round to support and research good mental health.

The real value of any campaign around mental health issues is in the long-term measures – and cultural changes. Are we helping ourselves and others to cope with whatever comes their way? However they feel or behave? Today and tomorrow – not just when prompted by the news, memes or PR campaigns?

At my PhD graduation ceremony last November, my PhD supervisor, Professor Tom Watson, cautioned me that I’d experience a sense of loss over the next few weeks. Fortunately for me, the opposite was true. Graduation marked the start of recovery – in finding a sense of myself that had been buried under books, research and writing.

I’m sure that a sense of loss is felt by many young people who may not have achieved the grades they wanted or needed as exam results have been announced over the last week in the UK. They may feel distressed if things haven’t gone well – or maybe they’re sad about the end of their schooldays.

If we are able to, it is important to reflect at such moments. If we can’t see a way forward, others can help us get things in perspective. Can we move in new directions – or revert to other hopes, dreams and ambitions? Or take the time to process and rethink.

For me, I found recovery initially in being able to read anything but academic texts. This slowly helped me return to research, writing and other things I enjoy – such as dog walking and spending time with family and friends.

I had suffered in the final stages of completing my PhD with stress-induced eczema and typing-induced tendonitis.

My mental health had suffered in other ways – some of which I’m still addressing. But what had concerned me most at my graduation was how I felt about myself physically. I’d gained weight slowly but steadily over many years.

To complete my 80,000 word thesis, I spent months sitting in front of a computer or a pile of books. There were weeks when I didn’t go outside my house apart from quick dog-walks and trips to the supermarket. Eating more and exercising less not only piled on the pounds, but took a toll on my self-esteem.

Whilst relieved to have reached the point of submission and then to defend my thesis successfully, I wasn’t really happy in myself. More than that, I struggled to remember what happiness felt like.

I knew I had to make a change and recover my mental and physical health. I noticed there was a SlimmingWorld group in the next village and thought it was worth a try.

I found a group of wonderful, funny and welcoming people – and since last November, with their help, I’ve achieved a weight loss of over 3.5 stone (as a child of the ’60s, I don’t think in kilos).

I consider this milestone as a mark of recovery and gradually feeling better about myself. The tendonitis remains, and life continues to bring challenges. The support of others – strangers and friends – has been vitally important, especially as it is easy to isolate yourself when experiencing mental and physical health worries.

Recovery is a hard road – but we don’t have to travel it alone, especially when we are moving backward rather than forward. Recovery is about taking small steps and recognising our achievements, even if we don’t always feel the positive emotions that we think we should.



In the first episode of the excellent three-part BBC documentary examining the murder of Stephen Lawrence, his mother says it is important “to talk about Stephen a bit more. So people can see he had a life, not just in death, but before.”

Tomorrow, 22 April 2018, it is 25 years since Stephen died, aged eighteen. His life had been happy, full of promise. Yet a bare 70 words on the Wikipedia page, titled Murder of Stephen Lawrence, talk about his life:

Stephen Lawrence was born on 13 September 1974. During his teenage years, Lawrence excelled in running, competing for the local Cambridge Harriers athletics club, and appeared as an extra in Denzel Washington’s film For Queen and Country. At the time of his death he was studying technology and physics at the Blackheath Bluecoat School and English language and literature at Woolwich College, and was hoping to become an architect.

His mother, Doreen Lawrence, is quoted as saying,

I would like Stephen to be remembered as a young man who had a future. He was well loved, and had he been given the chance to survive maybe he would have been the one to bridge the gap between black and white because he didn’t distinguish between black or white. He saw people as people.

Public relations is about people. The relationships that people, individually and collectively, have with organisations and the people within them.

These relationships may be fleeting or long-lasting. They may be insignificant or highly significant in someone’s life.

When we talk about managing public relations, the emphasis should be on how organisations behave in their relationships with people. Yet stakeholder management is too often reduced to analysing, categorising, prioritising and working out how to influence or control those who have an effect on the organisation.

Listening becomes surveillance. Communication is directed ‘at’, rather than ‘with’. Systems are designed to gain advantage and rarely to learn, adapt and benefit others. In short, too little thought is given to the effect the organisation has on people and the lives they live.

This was evident in the relationship between the police and the Lawrences. In contrast, Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll gained the family’s trust.

Today, 21 April 2018, it is 10 years since my father, Richard Liddiment died, aged almost sixty-eight. It is not a day that I want to remember, as I prefer to focus on life and the happy memories before death.

I believe it is important to talk about people who are no longer with us. What they did, felt, said and who they were and continue to be in our hearts. Most importantly, keeping them alive through talking about the life they shared with us.

And we should do our best to remember in our personal and working lives, to see, and treat, people as people.

Image adapted from: Designed by Freepik



At this time of year, it is common to look back over recent achievements and plan ahead to how we may dedicate our time and efforts in future. This approach is a key step in sustainable professional development and involves two of three stages of reflective thinking:

  • Reflection on action – what have we done?
  • Reflection for action – what are we going to do?

A third stage, Reflection in action, sits between these and focuses attention on what we are doing now. Monitoring our actions in the present is an important link between the past and future – what I call pastpresentfutureness. We have an opportunity to learn from previous experiences (good or bad) in improving our current lives. We can also consider changing direction or continuing a current trajectory in planning ahead.

Sometimes we make or face decisions that have the potential to fundamentally change our lives. The end of a year can seem a good time to take stock and decide to transform our professional or personal circumstances. Such reflection is a worthwhile exercise in critical thinking and enables us to apply higher order cognitive capabilities (drawing on Bloom’s Taxonomy) of analysing, evaluating and creating.

In my PhD research investigating career strategies in public relations, I developed an innovative timeline interview technique that enabled participants to reflect and think critically about their career experiences and possibilities. Analysis allowed them to identify connections and patterns in their career histories. Evaluation of the timeline drawings involved reasoned judgement of the past, present and future. Creativity is applied to gain original insight into career influences.

This process involves reflexive learning as it focuses on how we think about our career behaviours. A framework of factors can be considered affecting us at micro (individual), meso (occupational and organisational) and macro (societal) levels.

In reality, I found that most PR practitioners do not dedicate time to routine thinking about their careers. Generally they are reactive in responding to, or seeking out, career changes rather than proactively planning their career development. This is understandable in an occupation that lacks a clear career design and where the future can seem uncertain. Indeed, my research reveals the tendency to rely on opportunistic career strategies in public relations is long-established.

As a result, public relations practitioners – and the wider occupation – are missing out on the benefits of career reflexivity. In my experience, reflection for action is vital to identify possibilities and inform future career moves. Further, I contend that we need to dedicate ourselves through proactive career strategies if we are to turn our hopes for fulfilling careers into intentions, adaptive plans and actions.

Personally I look back over 2017 as the year I finally delivered on my intention to achieve my PhD. Reflecting on the dedication this involved, I have learned a lot about myself and ways that I can help inform sustainable career development in public relations. My proposal in my thesis of an original tapestry career paradigm challenges established theoretical models of a basis technician-manager dichotomy. Importantly, I argue that there is a need to develop customised career strategies and adopt reflexive professional development methods in practice.

You can hear me talk about career strategies in PR with Philippe Borremans in a recent Wag The Dog podcast here:

What comes next is a question many people have asked me. Although I don’t yet have a clear answer, I know my 2018 plans require dedication to make them a success. And, as with the PhD, I cannot achieve what comes next on my own.

One of the greatest pleasures in finalising my PhD was writing the acknowledgements. This short statement allowed me to reflect on the support of others in reaching the end point of submission. Importantly these words of dedication are placed at the front of the doctoral thesis.

My PhD doctoral thesis: Yaxley, H., 2017. Career strategies in public relations: constructing an original tapestry paradigm. Doctorate Thesis (Doctorate). Bournemouth University is now published online. See:

I’d like to end this post by sharing my acknowledgements. These started with a quote by Umberto Eco (from Foucault’s Pendulum, 1989) as a reminder of how our present selves develop continuously, whether we are paying attention or not. They end by giving thanks.

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

This doctoral thesis is dedicated to everyone who has contributed towards the many interconnecting threads comprising my personal and professional career tapestry.

I am indebted to the research participants who kindly shared their career histories within this study. Their generosity stretches far beyond the canvas of this work.

With humility, I acknowledge the support of my supervisory team, Professor Tom Watson and Professor Candida Yates. Their guidance has been invaluable in helping me overcome the occasional knot in crafting my thoughts into a coherent design.

I am formed by many scraps of wisdom, not least from my much missed father. My amazing mother continues to be a source of inspiration.

Finally, I am forever grateful to the much loved few – who add colour to my world, purpose to my life and passion to my soul. We know that a kite flies against the wind, not with it.

The photograph is of a Underwood Standard Portable Typewriter that I bought from Vintage Mischief in Beccles, Suffolk to celebrate my PhD graduation. I began my career after University by training as a personal assistant and retain my love of typing – even though the dedication to typing my thesis led to me developing tendonitis. I make a pastpresentfutureness connection for my career every time I look at my new old typewriter.


What is normal? It is something that is usual, typical, standard, average, unexceptional, routine, predictable, to be expected.

Normal is the way things are done, part of the fabric of society, everyday habits, the unnoticed, taken for granted, culturally embedded.

It defines the benchmark against which everything else is measured. The middle of a normal distribution curve. Average, in the middle, the most common. The mean, median or modal value. The majority view, the most popular, a brand’s cash cow. The ‘cookie cutter’ option – all the same.

It’s an established reputation, reliable, consistent, well managed, authentic, honest, desirable. Dull, uninspiring, mundane, dependable, run of the mill, one of the pack.

Winning or losing – both can be normal. Our modus operandi. Reflexive. Natural. Inherent talent. The result of hard work, hours of practice. What we make of ourselves.

A facade. What others see. Without seeing. Ethical. Unethical. Just normal behaviour – nothing to see here.

The stereotype. Aren’t they all like that?

In PR. In Hollywood. In politics. In fashion. In the art world. In business. In the media. In the past. In reality. In our imagination. In our nightmares. It’s normal. Why are we surprised?

Male. White. Privileged. Powerful. Entitled to harass others. One of the boys.

Female. Black. Underprivileged. Powerless. Subject of harassment. Just a girl. Not one of us.

A role model. An influencer. A victim. A hero. Someone like me. Who I’d like to be. Who I once was.

#MeToo #Notinmyname #Blacklivesmatter

#MAGA #Brexiteer #Remoaner

Stand for the flag. Kneel for equality, freedom. Patriot. Citizen of the world.

Is normal what we accept? What we put up with? Who we are? What we will not allow to define us? Is normal not being abnormal?

We’ll ostracise, exorcise, eliminate, deny that bad practice or bad behaviour is the norm. Will good practice, good behaviour then be normal?

Just like that. Happy ever after. One for all. All for one.

Is our normal a comfort zone or a place of uncertainty? Who creates normality?

Are we all the same? Normal in our difference? Inclusive. Diverse.

Blending in. Standing out.

Is the Other not normal? Not like us? Even when otherness is the norm, the majority?

Why does it seem that the normal is not to be female, a stay at home parent, transgender, poor, living with disabilities, recovered from a mental health condition? Why are these normal experiences made to seem an exception? Even when they are common? Even when rejecting someone’s normality is unacceptable?

Blaming the individual. Blaming society. Blaming those with power, with agency, with control. All to blame. No-one’s fault. If only she, they, he, we…

Time for change. What’s normal for some is no longer normal in society. Never was. Never should be. Change the rules. Abide by rules. Just don’t be disrespectful. It’s not a joke or banter or locker room chat or girls’ talk.

Call your public relations people to craft a narrative of ‘I honestly don’t remember the encounter’,’I didn’t mean any harm’,  ‘it’s an addiction’, ‘sexual chatter’, ‘just old dinosaurs’. Resignation, rehab, mea culpa – sort of. A partial or pseudo apology has become the normal PR-crafted response. Should this really be the norm in PR? Time we refused to play the game? Stop protecting those who forfeit the right to excuses?  Change this time-worn narrative of crisis management?

What is shown as normal become engrained in how people view their own normality. My PhD research revealed an ongoing belief that normal careers involve hierarchical progression, reflecting the 20th century Mad Man norm of popular culture. The fact that this never normal for most of society doesn’t affect the normalised narrative of onwards and upwards.

Rise to the top, accrue power, reward, privilege, the right to do unto others as you wish – no longer do as you would be done by…

My thesis argues there is no normal career. The strategy employed by public relations practitioners is not the professionalised norm that is written or spoken about. Yet, we’re told to aspire to achieve great heights, to look up, to admire – to do what it takes. Claw your way up to a position above, from where it’s normal to look down on others.

I heard career stories where ‘old boys clubs’ and ‘hedonistic macho agencies’ were the norm in public relations. Where some are invited to climb and others are not.

A normative hierarchical narrative is engrained even when individuals’ own experience is different. They feel abnormal, blame themselves, if they don’t achieve the idealised “normal career” that is defined by the experience of the minority not the majority.

Careers for the few are not the norm. Careers for the many are not a tidy linear progress courtesy of one employer. Job for life, gold plated pension, better salary, bigger bonus.

The normal PR career strategy is to craft our way with backstitches, knots, fragmented stories, messy lives.

Yes, for some their career norm in PR may be easy, a good life. For others it’s a gig economy, low waged, no contract, redundancy, obsolete, automated out of a job, outsourced, replaced by the internet of things. Perhaps that will become the norm.

Maybe nothing is normal.

Image: Emoji cookie cutter from Pampered Chef



Life is what happens when you’re completing a PhD (to appropriate a more famous expression).

My proposal to undertake a PhD investigating Career Strategies in Public Relations at Bournemouth University was accepted in October 2009 – this week I was delighted to be told during my Viva (oral examination) that I would be awarded my doctorate (subject to minor amends).

A lot of life has happened in the past seven years and eight months. There have been the matches, hatches and dispatches by which the news of life can be reported. People have entered, stuck around or departed through the routine of my working life.

Friends and memories have been made. Dogs have found their forever homes, grown up, grown old and some have passed on. A French house was sold and a British bungalow was bought – with a mother relocated.

Many long journeys were driven in a car full of books as my studies were forever portable. Piles of books and papers, USB sticks full of downloads and drafts, note books of reflections, printouts and interview recordings – spread throughout the house spinning out of control like spiders’ webs.

The valley of despair that I warn students about, has been my intellectual home for several periods, until I’ve climbed back up the slope of hope, often with the support of others. The life of a PhD is a solo venture but it isn’t undertaken alone.

Friends, family, colleagues, wonderful supervisors and research participants each play a part. Then there’s the work of so many writers who have shared their research, thoughts and theories in the multi-layered texts that enable any of us to build our work on solid foundations.

This knowledge base has not been a static, dusty archive waiting to be unpicked by me. It is a living construction that has developed alongside my own work. The fields of public relations and career studies are dynamic where the past, the present and the future are continuously knotted and entwined.

Academic research involves looking back, looking around, looking forward and looking inside yourself. What we think we know has to be deconstructed and reconstructed. New work sometimes offers new vistas to be explored, sometimes it reveals dead end thinking to be challenged. From a panoramic viewpoint, your own work needs the space to breathe and move forwards, as you look to open up something new, make an original contribution, to offer up yourself and your words.

A PhD also means learning about you – your strengths and your weaknesses. For me, the experience has provided realisation of personal resilience alongside recognition of reasons why for many, many moments I could have given up. Although perhaps it is the comfort of knowing I could stop, that kept me going.

More hours than I could calculate have been spent reading and writing, working through my thinking and working out what I want to say. Why am I doing this? Hoping that I have constructed something worth saying, worth reading, worth others thinking about. Something that will make a contribution. Be good enough, better than I fear. Be bold enough to challenge the theories and practices that I critique. Be interesting, innovative, inspirational, informed, intriguing.

And it is. I think, I hope, I believe, I know.

There is much more to say on the process of completing a PhD, the content of my PhD, and the many individuals without whom I could not have given life to the thesis.

But that’s for another day*. For now is a time to reflect on life passed and life to come. To mark this kairotic moment.

PhD – doctor of philosophy: a prestigious qualification that demonstrates talent, academic excellence and a thirst for knowledge.

A friend told me that the first woman to obtain a PhD degree was Elena Cornaro Piscopia; conferred on her at the University of Padua on June 25, 1678. Confirmation of my doctorate came 340 years and two days later.

Like any qualification worth having, a PhD is earned through hard work and intellectual endeavour. The Viva stipulation of a few amends to complete is a chance to relive the life that went into every word. It offers an opportunity for kaizen (continuous improvement) before freedom from the PhD life, to a new place where ideas can grow freely. Where my work can stretch its wings, like a wild bird of prey – a kite – flying the nest.

Apparently the first doctorate degree was awarded in medieval Paris in the mid-12th century, and became an official licence to teach. A time of of falconry and swordsmanship.

I love the idea that in Finland, a doctoral sword is part of the PhD conferment ceremony. I think this is a fabulous way to recognise this ancient, yet still relevant achievement.

Now that I have more spare time, I’m attracted by the seven day sword making course offered by Owen Bush at his School of Blacksmithing and Bladesmithing in Kent. Or maybe I treat myself to a fabulous master-crafted example. I don’t suppose I’ll be able to wear it to my graduation ceremony though.

* I am participating in a panel discussion on Employability and Sustainable Careers at the inaugural #MindthePRGap event at Birmingham City University on 12 July – see: to book.

The image for this post is a playing card from a hypnotherapy session that helped me to get out of a valley of despair period. It indicates my key goal and has been pinned to a board that I have looked at every day for several years. At graduation, I will put a bright green tick on it. To mark the sense of achievement.