Not Everything is a Fire with Tracy Gunn

13 Nov, 2020

Over 100 colleagues from across the University today joined a Webinar hosted by the Women Leaders in Higher Education Network with special guest speaker, Tracy Gunn, who spoke about the theme - Not Everything is a Fire!

Before Tracy Gunn set up her own business, she was Head of Leadership Development for Marks & Spencer, and her areas of expertise are in leadership development, personal effectiveness and change management. Dr. Avril Behan, Director and Dean of the College of Engineering and Built Environment welcomed participants to the first event held virtually by WLHE and introduced Tracy who would explore the experiences of staff during the COVID-19 crisis and provided attendees with tools for supporting themselves, families, colleagues and students.

Tracy described 2020 as the ‘corona-coaster’ with many people experiencing a depletion in surge capacity, a theory developed by Dr Ann Masten, a psychologist and professor of child development at the University of Minnesota. Surge capacity is a collection of psychological and physical systems that we can draw on during crisis events. However, it is a short-term survival response and can be diminished over a longer-term issue such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This can lead to a series of symptoms, including exhaustion, feeling down or difficulties with concentration.

Tracy explained several tools that can be used to handle a decrease in surge capacity, such as accepting that life is now different, taking time out to do fulfilling activities and nurturing key relationships. To help with our daily working lives, Tracy also discussed several tools to help alleviate stress levels, including using the Eisenhower Matrix to identify tasks that are important and urgent. Ms Gunn also mentioned the Zeigarnik effect which posits that people remember unfinished or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks, and recommended that attendees, whether individually or as a team, write down what they have achieved each day. Colleagues participated throughout the session via chat and screen annotation, which enabled one of the goals of the session, that of staying connected with our support networks.

The event concluded with Tracy encouraging each person to pick someone from the list of attendees to tell them one tool or habit they intend to begin to help them manage their busy lives better and to organise a coffee morning in a few weeks so they can discuss their progress.

About Women Leaders in Higher Education Network

The Women Leaders in Higher Education Network was established in 2016 to empower and enable women in all roles (management, academic, technical and professional) in TU Dublin and to encourage time for reflection on their personal and professional development and career advancement and enhancement. This network aims to be inclusive of women in academic, professional, research and technical roles at all levels and stages across TU Dublin.