Aileen Strachan AMA

Research manager (learning and audiences), Glasgow Museums
I manage a team of staff across our nine museums, including learning and access curators, a visitor studies curator and a volunteer and placement co-ordinator. As well as overseeing the strategic direction of our approach to learning and audiences, my work includes helping to advise on and develop a number of museum capital projects.

I started the AMA in 2009. I was working as a curator on the Riverside Museum Project, which was a brilliant job with lots of opportunities for learning, both through training and from colleagues.

However, I was conscious that my contract was temporary and that the sector was very competitive. Although I'd done various bits of ad hoc training, I didn't have any formal museum-related qualifications.

I decided that the AMA would complement the learning I was doing as part of my job; it seemed flexible enough to respond to the gaps in my experience, while helping me to build on my strengths.

That flexibility was essential - when I moved to a new post managing the Curious project at St Mungo Museum, I was able to take a six-month break from the AMA and reassess my plans in light of my new role.  

The key benefits I got from doing the AMA were increased confidence and a better understanding of the sector beyond my specific organisation. 

I now have a permanent job with Glasgow Museums. I got the job a couple of weeks before I had my AMA professional review.

Preparing for both interviews highlighted how useful the AMA had been in ensuring I had a broader contextual knowledge of the sector and beyond, partly because I had a wider range of contacts. The work-based project and the more in-depth research I did as part of the AMA have also been hugely useful in my new post.

For me, the AMA provided a really useful structure to prioritise my career development, for example by putting aside time to publish, as well as to speak at and organise conferences.

The work I did during my AMA increased my confidence and the insights from my mentor were really valuable. The knowledge journal was very helpful because it forced me to be disciplined in recording my learning and reflections on my experiences.