Academic’s career spans fashion, development and expert leadership

Meet Dr Amanda Goodall

With a career spanning fashion, global development, and academia, Dr Amanda Goodall has seen, and learned, a lot along the way.

She brings this extensive and varied experience to her role as a Senior Lecturer at Cass Business School where her research focuses on expert leadership and organisational performance.  She also researches gender, specifically helping to understand the gender pay gap.

Early days

Born into an RAF family who moved from country to county, Amanda left school at 16 with no qualifications to begin a career as a fashion model.  She spent extended periods of time in Milan, Paris, Hong Kong and the United States and worked across Lebanon, Kenya, Indonesia, Egypt, Israel and Europe.

Known by her modelling agency as ‘Red Amanda,” the experience of travelling and seeing new cultures and meeting different people had a lasting effect; inspiring her next move into development work.

“Living in another country when you are young makes you look and think about things differently.  I became interested in development and the environment whilst living in the US in the 1970s, towards the end of Vietnam War.  We travelled across 40 US states and I was exposed to a level of poverty that I hadn’t seen before, and to vast stretches of stunning terrain in national parks and deserts.”

From high fashion to global development

“I’d had enough of modelling by the time I was 22 and moved to a remote part of India in Andhra Pradesh where I worked on a small development project.  I was there mainly to learn about the politics of development, the culture and language but I also made many friends and learned a great deal.”

When Amanda returned from India she began work in fundraising and marketing for the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign (NSC).

“At that time Thatcher and Reagan were in power, and the US was waging war against progressive movements across Central and South America.  For ten years I worked for the NSC and consulted for other campaigning organisations including Friends of the Earth, Shelter and the Terrence Higgins Trust.”

Academia calls

When she was 33, Amanda headed back to the classroom, where she was awarded a First Class Honours in Social Policy and Administration at the London School of Economics.  She stayed on afterwards to work with the renowned sociologist Professor Anthony Giddens.

In 2000 she moved to Chicago to work with a educational start-up called UNext. The bomb changed the company’s fortunes and Amanda returned to an Executive position with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick.  She completed her PhD at Warwick Business School in 2007.

Her PhD title was ‘Does it take an expert to lead experts? The case of universities’. Her thesis Socrates in the Boardroom, was published by Princeton University Press in 2009.

Joining Cass

Amanda became a Visiting Fellow at Cass in 2010, after she was invited to give a talk in one of Professor Laura Empson’s seminars.

“I’m grateful to Laura because it was then that I really experienced the fabulous energy at Cass.  It completely drew me in.  In 2012 I moved from a research position at the Institute for Labor Economics (IZA) in Bonn, to the Faculty of Management at Cass.  I love the place – the people throughout are fabulous,” she says.

Expert leadership

Amanda’s main focus at Cass is her research into ‘expert leadership’ where she believes she has found a generalisable pattern in leaders that is linked to organisational performance.

“There is so much written about leadership much of which is empirically weak and not generalisable.  My work shows that successful leaders have a deep understanding of, and high ability in, the core business of the organisations they are to lead – this is expert knowledge.  My findings sit in contrast to the belief that leaders need only be a good manager.  The evidence clearly shows this is wrong.”

Amanda’s research has gained global media interest, most recently in healthcare, where it was discussed by the UK’s Department of Health.

Evidence on leader characteristics that supports Amanda’s work comes from universities, hospitals, professional service firms, and highly competitive fields, such as Formula 1 and basketball.  In a study looking at 35,000 randomly selected employees matched with their employers, Amanda and her co-authors found that having a boss who either worked their way up the organisation or started it, or could do a subordinate’s job, is a predictor for high levels of job satisfaction.  Indeed, having an expert boss matters more to our job satisfaction than our pay – doubt the effect.

“We have found that having a core business expert as a boss is associated with higher employee job satisfaction and lower intentions to quit.  The mechanisms through which this happens seem to be the way an expert boss manages, which leads to high morale, greater autonomy and better overall support.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  Someone who has successfully walked the walk will know exactly what it takes for others to follow in their path.  Whereas a general manager with little core business credibility cannot possibly understand this.

“Having happy workers should be what we all want.  But it is also really important to individual and organisational performance; satisfied workers are productive workers,” she says.

Medical leadership

Last year, working with colleagues at Cass, Amanda designed and launched a new Executive Masters in Medical Leadership. The degree is the only one in the country that is tailored exclusively for doctors.  It aims to equip doctors with the high-level skills they need to improve their organisation’s performance and, ultimately, people’s health.

The programme teaches personal leadership development, how to manage people and change, managerial accounting and business planning, use data analytics to drive decision-making, formulate strategy and drive innovation, navigate the regulatory and health policy environment, and understand the positive impact good leaders can make.

“Now, more than ever, the UK needs strong medical leadership.   It is time to empower doctors to step forward and take control of the leadership and management of their organisations,” she says.

Bridging the gender pay gap

Another area of interest for Amanda is the gender pay gap. Last year, with colleagues from the University of Warwick and the University of Wisconsin, she released  Do Women Ask?, a significant research paper which showed that women ask for pay rises just as often as men, but men are 25 per cent more likely to get a raise when they ask for one.

The research received impressive national and international media coverage across Tier One broadcast, print and online media.  It reached across the BBC (TV, radio and online) and all national newspapers in the UK including the Times, Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail. Major US news outlets including CNN, Forbes, Fortune, New York Times, New York Magazine, the Huffington Post, CBS, Yahoo and NBC also covered the story.

The research was also picked up by leading news outlets across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Amanda is now regularly approached for comment on gender pay, something which has helped her develop a reputation as a thought leader on this very topical issue.

“I enjoy doing media work,” she says.  “It is a good opportunity to disseminate our research findings.  I am a strong believer in doing research that is relevant to the real world, not just of interest to a few academics.  We are a business school!  Our work should be disseminated as widely as possible and it must also be understood – so little or no jargon.”

Do Women Ask was also shared with parliamentarians and policy makers on the Select Committees for Work and Pensions and Women and Equalities and the All Party Groups for State Pension Equality for Women and Women and Work, further expanding the impact of the original paper.

Cass Global Women

Together with Dr Canan Kocabasoglu-Hillmer, who is now Director of the Cass Global Women’s Leadership Programme, Amanda was instrumental in setting up the Cass Academic Women’s Network three years ago.  She has also spoken at a number of events, and when she was Academic Head of Recruitment for the MBA, she helped organise an event to encourage more women to think about doing an MBA.

“It was very nice recently to bump into two women who attended that event now doing our MBA,” she says.

“Women globally have made enormous gains – for example, more women now go to university than men. Yet, we still lag behind in salaries and in obtaining senior positions. Canan is heading an important leadership initiative at Cass; one that will support women into becoming future leaders through scholarships, events and networks.  Women need support and motivation.  We hope this new programme will offer both,” she says.

Amanda has some clear advice for women at Cass – whether they are undergraduate or postgraduate students, academic or professional staff.

Advice for Cass women

“I encourage all women to look at the leader within – this is something that we do in our Executive Masters in Medical Leadership.  To succeed in life it is useful to start with what is going on inside us.  Do you have any behaviours or fears that don’t serve you or others well?  The sooner you deal with them, the smoother life will be.”

For many women, the decision whether to have children can have a significant impact on their careers, even if they work in an organisation with progressive parental and flexible working policies. Amanda advises women to think carefully about their options because taking time out of your career can put you behind other colleagues.

“When you meet a partner that you might want children with, negotiate with them at the outset.  Can you agree to share the responsibilities equally so that your career avoids the negative hit from taking years out?  Once a male (or non-part-time) partner is on a higher salary, they then become the ‘main breadwinner’ and your career starts to look less important!  50 per cent of marriages end in divorce, but your career is for life.  Start equal, stay equal then we will end equal.”

Amanda also believes that women need to take the long view about their careers and seek new development opportunities, such as those offered by the Cass Global Women’s Leadership Programme.

“You may live and work into your 70s or even 80s and live into your hundreds.  It may seem mad to you now, but you may have several careers - as I have done - and may need or want to reskill and start again somewhere else.  My research does suggest however, that if you want to become a leader in any field, you must know it intimately, and your professional contribution be respected so that you have credibility among your colleagues and followers.  Nothing requires tenacity more than success.”

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