At the end of the year, our colleague, friend and Senior Fellow of the Institute Dr Heather Skinner will be retiring. Heather has supported the IPM for many years, most notably managing and chairing the Corfu Symposium from 2014 -2019. The annual Symposium aimed to develop the theory and practice of place management and marketing, within a context of responsible tourism on the island of Corfu. With engaging content, beautiful landscapes, and a friendly atmosphere, the Symposium became a truly unique and much loved event, with many attendees returning, not only to participate in the symposium but to also to visit Heather and enjoy her hospitality.
On the 3rd December, we hosted a virtual surprise retirement do for Heather attended by over 40 colleagues and friends. Not only was this an opportunity to reflect and celebrate Heather’s work with IPM, but also her varied and successful academic career spanning over 20 years. Before the “retirement do” surprise was revealed, Heather delivered a fitting presentation “Research, Relevance and … Retirement” which she believed was being presented as part of the Festive Research Seminar. You can watch Heather’s final academic presentation and her reaction to the surprise retirement event below:
As well as hearing about Heather’s career, colleagues, friends and former students shared fond memories and stories about Heather, describing how she had inspired so many with her unique and confident speaking style, giving others confidence in their own career. We also heard how Heather provided guidance and reassurance to many people, helping early-career academics complete PhDs and other research projects.
Speaking at the event IPM Co-chair and long-time colleague and friend Cathy Parker said:
“Heather’s candidness and directness is breath of fresh air in academia when a lot of people spend a lot of time speaking but actually saying very little. Heather always has a lot to say but delivers her messages with aplomb perhaps that comes from her varied career working in newspapers, in theatre, the BBC and of course singing…One thing is for sure you are knowledgeable, confident, brave, kind, compassionate and you’ve got a great sense of humour. You’ll be greatly missed at IPM.”
In recent years, Heather has also been an essential part of the academic course team on our postgraduate programme in Place Management and Leadership, further highlighting her diverse range of knowledge in academia. She has played a key role guiding and supporting our students through their studies, delivering course content as well as providing one to one support and insightful advice despite being based in Corfu. In addition, when called upon Heather has assisted on IPM’s core projects, making valuable contributions to the IPM members offer and the High Streets Task Force.
As was mentioned in Heather’s virtual retirement do multiple times, her ‘can do’ attitude, personal approach and sense of humour will be sorely missed in 2021. Although taking a well-deserved back seat, Heather will still be involved with IPM on an informal basis through her Senior Fellowship with Institute, which runs until 2023. Senior Fellowship is awarded in recognition of an outstanding achievement and contribution to place management and leadership. With her vast array of work throughout her academic career, Heather leaves a valuable legacy that will not be forgotten.
As Heather mentioned in her presentation:
“As I look back over my 22-year career, I can see a thread running through my work and it’s about the research related to place and it is about ensuring what we do makes a difference. I can look back knowing that…I’ve made some sort of difference and my research has spanned so many issues of managing, marketing and branding places”
Many of the IPM team hope to visit Heather in Corfu and take advantage of her amazing hospitality in 2021. In the meantime we wish Heather all the best with her retirement.