By Mahmoud Masud, Lecturer in Law, Coventry Law School
Throughout my 10 years of education at Coventry University, I have continuously learnt new skills that each contribute towards moving a step closer to something bigger. Each time I learn a new skill, I wonder whether there is something else I have yet to learn. Each time I challenge myself, without fail, I learn a new skill. The opportunities to develop that were available to me (and to all students) as both an undergraduate and postgraduate student, and now as a doctoral candidate and Lecturer in Law at Coventry University, have equipped me with a set of skills that I would not have acquired otherwise. This blog post reflects on just one of the many opportunities afforded to me that challenged and developed my existing skillset.
Recently, the Doctoral College recommended that I take part in a competition called “Three Minute Thesis” (3MT®) where I attempt to explain my research (expected to be between 60,000 and 80,000 words by completion) in three minutes to a non-specialist audience. I thought, “Why not? There is nothing to lose and probably nothing to win. What can three minutes do?” Was I wrong?
As a researcher and lecturer, enduring the stress of compressing a huge amount of information into three minutes was unprecedented. Up until that moment, I thought my wedding vows were the most stressful. There would be no sound effects and no moving images – just me and the camera. Not only did I win two awards on the night – the People’s Choice Award and third place in the judges’ ranking – but I had the absolute privilege of meeting other researchers and experts from a diversity of fields across the University. By pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I developed skills that I would not have developed otherwise. The amount of work and time dedicated to preparing for an event of ‘just’ three minutes, elevated my project management skills to another level.
After the event concluded, I thought this was the end of this competition and the rewards. Was I wrong again? More significant benefits emerged after the event concluded. I represented the Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity (CFCI) and my colleagues. Shortly after the event, I received an invitation to take part in a seminar series organised by CFCI as well as two additional invitations asking me to submit abstracts for conferences. This is not to forget the LinkedIn invites I received following the event, which were all a direct result of my participation in the Three Minute Thesis competition.
I cannot wait to take part in other competitions, especially the Postgraduate Researcher of the Year. I have developed existing skills and learnt new ones that have taken my CV to a new level. As an individual from a diverse background, I am very grateful for all the opportunities the University has offered me. My message to students and fellow researchers: consider each opportunity that presents itself. Even if it seems insignificant, it may provide an opportunity for improvement and developing your skills, though this needs to be carefully weighed against questions of relevance and work overload. The right opportunities can brighten and improve performance. Each time I participate in an activity, regardless of how insignificant I view it initially, the light ahead becomes much brighter.
You can view the presentations from the top 10 finalists, including Mahmoud’s, here. You can find out more about Mahmoud’s research through his Pure profile, which sets out his research interests, publications, and contact details. You can also find out more about Coventry University’s research through our dedicated research pages.