Building a career

Tony Hoare receiving the Turing Award, 1980
Tony Hoare receiving the Turing Award, 1980

If the diversity of our interviewees' lives tells us anything, it is that there is no such thing as a typical scientific career, but that many different things shape one. Personal factors, like family circumstances, ambition, interest and dedication, guide careers too. Outside influences can have profound effects, like changes in government policy, networks of personal contacts, the rise and fall of interest in particular topics, or sudden events, like war, or project cancellations. Few interviewees would deny the role of luck in their lives, and for a few, lucky breakthroughs led to a life's work. Some found stable and well structured employment, sometimes jobs for life, within established firms or as government scientists in the Scientific Civil Service. For others, circumstances and personal choices led to careers of incrediblevariety, encompassing various academic, industrial, and government posts. Research interests could lead from one field to quite another in unexpected ways. Some found their career choices constrained by their gender, background, or education. Yet few of them did the same thing their whole lives, working on different subjects and projects, or combining research with administrative, teaching, management, or other responsibilities, demonstrating the rich diversity of scientific careers.

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