Published: 04 October 2021

Spotlight on Dr Ann Parchment

Dr Ann Parchment is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Management and Deputy Head of Department for Strategy and International Business. Ann is also the Education lead for a department of 16 colleagues who help her support the Head of Department in delivering the teaching strategy for the Business School. It’s a wide-ranging role within the Business School.

Ann Parchment
Ann Parchment

What steps did you take to be in your current post?

I’ve been at Surrey for five years, and before that I taught at the UCL School of Management for three years. I started my PhD in 2009, completing it in 2013 as I wanted to make a change from my previous role as Senior Vice President and Environmental Practice leader for the UK at Marsh Ltd. At the time I took this decision, my sons were also studying - one pursuing his GCSEs and the other completing his International Baccalaureate, so we all supported each other through our studies! It was daunting at first, but we would share and learn from each other – a very unexpected benefit at the time.

Teaching has taken me out of my comfort zone of risk management specifically environmental finance. From 1999 to 2009 I delivered financial solutions for companies who had uninsurable risks and required financial solutions as part of their risk management strategy for environmental issues. In 1999 there were very few financial solutions for companies that had environmental liabilities. It was an exciting time to develop innovative solutions with the best underwriters in the world. I placed the largest amount of environmental premium in the London market in 2006. It is strange to see Environmental issues currently have a high profile in 2021. There seems to be much green washing and little actual tangible action.

I enjoyed my time in the London market and worked hard for my clients and company but felt after 20 years that I could help others by transferring my applied knowledge through teaching. On completing my PhD, I was offered a teaching fellowship at UCL. I fundamentally believe that whatever you do you should do it well. While teaching at UCL I decided to apply for a post graduate diploma (PGDip) in professional learning and teaching at the Institute of Education. On completion of the PGDip, I went on to complete an MA. I achieved a formal teaching qualification to support my classroom skills.

I am passionate about learning, and I’ve always kept learning as a constant theme that has helped me progress in both careers. My advice is to be smart about your learning.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

As a working mother in the financial services sector in the period 1999-2009, I knew that being able to work from home would help my family thrive. I realised that my male colleagues were all working from home three days a week so I proposed to my managers that I could do the same. I was placed on a six-month rolling contract. This was priceless to me as it allowed me to progress my career without any breaks. Fundamentally, I made sure that I delivered excellent service to my clients, so my organisation soon forgot about the six-month reviews of my contract.

I in turn offered that support to my team in flexible working, and I’ve continued to offer that for my current team. These experiences have prepared me well for my current role. It’s a challenge, juggling teaching and leading a team, but very rewarding too.

Do you have any side projects or other interests that influence what you do at Surrey?

I don’t have side projects – my role takes up a lot of my time, but I like to keep learning and doing new things. My parents were professionals whose parents were entrepreneurs with a strong work ethic.  They were trailblazers using lifelong learning to contribute to society and progress, as a result learning means a lot to me.

As my expertise is in risk management, I’m currently creating a standalone strategic risk module for our post graduate students. When I completed my PhD in applied science, I wanted to inform business students about applied risk management. As we transition through the pandemic the current environment of disruption and uncertainty has highlighted the need for an understanding of risk management. This module will facilitate research led teaching.

My blend of commercial experience, research and teaching provides students with an applied experience that is set in the current environment of uncertainty.

What are your top tips would you share for anyone wanting to work in your field?

There are a few I have learned along the way including:

  1. Work smart
  2. Be the best that you can be
  3. Always be able to demonstrate your impact
  4. Treating people fairly and aim to make it part of what you do
  5. Aim to work with colleagues with open minds, as it makes approaching challenges much easier
  6. Lastly, I’d say develop your profile externally so that you can stay informed and showcase your expertise.

What’s the best and worst advice you’ve ever been given?

The worst advice I received was that my English teacher told me that I wouldn’t pass my GCSEs. I said nothing but proved her wrong with my grade! Know you will do better than expected and let your results be your evidence and your greatest motivation.

Best advice was from a friend when I was facing several tasks which were all occurring at the same time.  When I told her my position her response was ‘have you tried?’ – simple but effective!

Parting words

Reflect on what you have and build on it – whether it is your education, resources, or contacts, by building on what you have you will find opportunities. You can go as far as you want, you just need to try!

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