The Client

Who is Prosper?

Prosper is based in The Academy at the University of Liverpool and is a new approach to career development for postdoctoral researchers. Working jointly with the University of Manchester and the University of Lancaster, Prosper aimed to open up the huge talent pool that exists within the postdoctoral community to the benefit of postdocs themselves and to principal investigators, employers and the wider UK economy ultimately transforming the researcher career landscape nationally


Over the last two years, the Prosper pilot reached over 120 post-doctorates who joined one of two cohorts for a 12-month period. On committing to Prosper each postdoctorate gets access to a career coach for both 1:1 coaching and group coaching. In addition, a range of professional development workshops and interventions were designed and delivered to enhance their learning and career journey.


Type of Coaching: Support for a leader manager or team


The Challenge:

For Prosper: To create and deliver an innovative, impactful and engaging career development model that would offer postdocs a fresh perspective on their career options and the ability to thrive in multiple career pathways, both within and beyond academia.


For the postdocs: Many of the postdocs felt they were at a career crossroads and unsure of their next step. Doubts about whether the academic path was one they wished to continue with, together with feeling limited and unclear about their options was the starting point for many.


The Coaching:

During the two-year pilot, Denise offered career coaching and mentoring for 22 postdocs, delivering both group and individual coaching. She also designed and facilitated learning sessions for the wider programme on topics supporting the career development agenda including Working for Yourself and Coaching Approach to Leading Yourself and Others.


It was a perfect combination. Monthly group coaching sessions were designed around a topic and encouraged reflection and conversation. Some of the topics included communication, leadership, self-confidence and presentational skills.
In the safe, non-judgemental space postdocs were able to share their experiences and aspirations, learn from each other and were encouraged and supported by others in the group to take small steps forward.


The 1:1 coaching enabled postdocs to work on issues specific to them and resulted in them getting a better understanding of themselves their strengths, skills, values and what was important to them. Practical advice and guidance on CVs and interviews equipped them with the tools they needed as they were working out their “what next” for them and their career.


The Outcome

Of the postdocs Denise supported, all reported their coaching experience was instrumental in helping them get clarity and move forward.


  • Five left academia and moved into new roles in industry
  • One postdoc started a business
  • Ten stayed in academia found new positions and promotions (five in different countries!) and two of those were successful in getting fellowships.


The remaining six were still exploring options but all reported feeling much improved levels of confidence and self belief, and said they felt they now had control and choice over the next steps in their career


Prosper has helped 100+ postdocs realise they have the strength and experience to thrive within academic or non-academic roles and has equipped them with practical tools to succeed in those roles. Following two successful pilots, Prosper will be freely available to the whole of the UK from summer 2023

The Feedback

“Propser has been really good at raising my confidence and taking a step to reach out to people.” – Esmeralda Bon


“I just wanted to thank you for your time over the last year. I really enjoyed both group and individual coaching sessions and I believe the way you directed those coaching sessions was fantastic. You really helped me understand what I was capable of achieving if I take the time to look into it. The sky’s the limit as the adage says, but it’s easier to get into it if we first build the plane. So thank you for helping me build the first plane, I will keep on building new, faster, stronger ones and maybe one day I set the limit to the stars, who knows. Thank you for your patience and thank you for listening to us postdocs.” – Anthony


“I want to take this opportunity to thank you the Prosper team for the support offered and to pair me up with a highly talented coach in Denise who has been pivotal in the decision to leace academia and set up a consultancy. She has provided support, confidentiality and empathy at every step of the way” – Linda


“The group coaching sessions with Denise provided a strong and supportive environment that she helped us co-created. Having those conversations about what we really want to do with our lives and why and what we’ve learned has been invaluable.” – Christina


“Prosper has been an amazing journey full of self-discovery and development opportunities – it allowed me to re-evaluate where I was and reimagine my future” – Dominic

A final word from Denise

What a privilege to have had the opportunity to be a career coach on this groundbreaking project. A huge thank you to my fellow coaches for their support and willingness to share their own tools and resources so we could be the best coaches possible, to the fabulous Prosper team who did an outstanding job on every level, and finally for the postdocs in my groups, both the class of 2022 and 2023 – thank you for fully showing up to every coaching session and being willing to dive deep to understand more about yourself and what is important to you and your career.

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