THE BLOG
18/11/2013 06:36 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Women's Work - Ilka Gleibs

This is the second in an occasional series called Women's Work. It's not about "glass ceilings", struggle, gender wars and all that. Just plain and simply it's about women who naturally achieve in their chosen profession.

Dr. Ilka Gleibs is Assistant Professor of Social and Organisational Psychology at the prestigious London School of Economics, a University that is always ranked amongst the very best, both in the UK and worldwide.

Ilka is one of those people who mapped out her own life at a young age, garnering top tier qualifications and scholarships a-plenty to help her on her way. Ilka moved fast through various Universities in Germany (She obtained her PhD from the famous Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany) eventually arriving in the UK in 2007.

With a judge for a father and Social Worker mother, Ilka's mealtime conversations inevitably came to Social issues at some point and she developed an interest that became a career.

Social Psychology might need a little explanation. Essentially it is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviours are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.

For example, Ilka asks the question, "Does money buy happiness?" Her profession is to keep rigorous analysis central to any argument and whilst her academic papers are eminently readable they are not designed to be "an easy read".

(You may want to know that she argues that strong social relations are much more consistent in providing us with well being and may provide a more stable and enduring basis for happiness).

In a sharp detour from hard thinking, I am surprised to discover that Ilka is a volunteer at The Ministry of Stories, a non-profit creative writing centre in East London that helps children and young people to develop their writing. Further investigation into this Charity, set up by Nick Hornby, Lucy Macnab and Ben Payne reveals that there is no surprise that Ilka is involved.

It's teaching. But it's teaching with a soft touch. Mentoring might be a better word. And it has a clear social purpose. In its first year, over 3000 young people took part in volunteer-led workshops and writing projects.

There is a lot for young women to learn from Ilka as they navigate their way round the highways and byways of career opportunities.

Work out what motivates you; don't just fall back on the specifics of your school or University qualifications.

Stay focused on what you have decided to do and stick with it.

And finally, think around your chosen career. What other social opportunities are there to expand your mind and associate with people you might not normally meet?

Such activity makes you not just good at what you do, but interesting and engaging too.