career (personal)

A snapshot of my career in academia

On 28 June 2016, UCT ran a story on its recently promoted professors. Here’s an excerpt from that piece:


New professors share journeys and reflections

How long does it take to become a professor? Following UCT’s recent ad hominem promotions and as the university works to transform its academic cohort, this question is a moot point. Ten candidates share their journeys …

Professor Caroline Ncube, commercial law: “15 years after starting as a lecturer in 2001”
Professor Caroline Ncube

“If the reckoning begins with the commencement of my academic career, it adds up to 15 years. My route was not linear – after a short time in private practice as an attorney, I completed a master’s at Cambridge in 2000 and became a lecturer at another institution in 2001. I joined UCT as a lecturer in 2005 and completed my PhD part-time while carrying a full teaching load and raising two sons. … I graduated with my PhD in June 2011. My promotion was helped considerably by the fact that I continued to do other research and publish extensively alongside my PhD studies.”

“A reduced teaching load would have given me more space to research and write and complete my doctorate faster. As I’m not a South African citizen, I didn’t qualify for any PhD-completion funding that would have enabled me to buy out some of my teaching and thus free up time.”

“When my sons were younger, it was difficult to attend capacity-building or other UCT events scheduled after hours. It was extremely helpful that I was able to enrol my younger son at UCT’s Educare Centre, so he was in easy reach during the day. … As my sons have grown older, it’s become easier to participate in academic life. … I suggest that UCT schedules its research-related events with the circumstances of parents or primary caregivers in mind.”

“Set ambitious targets for yourself. And put in the work, even when times are bleak. When I joined UCT in 2005, I set the triple goals of obtaining a PhD, achieving full professorship and an NRF rating by the time I turned 40. I was 29 at the time … I made it with six months to spare.”

“Use as many of UCT’s excellent resources as possible. The Emerging Researcher Programme [ERP] hosts invaluable workshops and seminars …. I was also mentored by the Research Office’s Dr Lyn Holness under the auspices of the ERP. Since I became head of department in 2014, I’ve worked with Dr Margaret Orr, an executive coach in the office of the vice-chancellor. Dr Rob Morrell’s assistance with my NRF rating was invaluable.”

“I also benefited enormously from attending the inaugural Association of Transnational Law Schools (Atlas) Agora at York University in 2008, partially funded by the ERP. I broke the back of my PhD during that eight-week residential stint for doctoral candidates.”

Story Helen Swingler. Photos Michael Hammond.
Read the whole piece to learn about nine of my colleagues, also featured.
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