The academic politician
A good few years ago I was standing with a drink and a canapé or two at a university reception. A colleague from another department came and chatted with me, and he invited me to scan the assembled company. ‘All of these people’, he suggested, ‘are either scholars or networkers.’ He then proceeded to point at individuals known to both of us and identified each as either ‘scholar’ or ‘networker’. I pointed to one individual and suggested, ‘scholar and networker’.
‘No’, said my friend, ‘you’re not playing the game. He cannot be both. It’s either one or the other.’
I have always wondered about this. Do your scholarly credentials absolutely rule out networking skills? Does your ability to work a room stand in contradiction to your intellectual ambitions? I still wonder. If ever I write my memoirs, I shall need to know the answer before drafting the last chapter.