This much I know: Dr Andrew Hambler, University of Wolverhampton Business School

20 April 2015 -


In our final profile of CMI’s Management Article of the Year finalists, Andrew tells us about the appeal of the academic life, and why the Archbishop of Canterbury deserves admiration

Colin Marrs

It was Tony Blair’s spin doctor and right-hand man Alistair Campbell who memorably said, “We don’t do God”, when Blair was asked a religious question in an interview. Following his premiership, Blair in fact went on to become a major proponent of God, suggesting that he may have felt rather constrained in his views during his time at No 10.

That very tension around how organisations treat religion formed the basis of Andrew’s essay “We Don’t Do God” (but maybe we should?) Managing religious expression in the workplace – shortlisted for the prestigious Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Management Article of the Year award.

Here, Andrew gives us some insights into the career experience that shaped his fascination with the subject he explored.

I taught for a year in a boarding school. After reading history at the University of Durham, I thought I wanted to become a teacher. I spent a year working in a boarding school as a house tutor, and during that time I had to think quite carefully about whether I wanted to teach children for the next 40 years. It struck me as a little short sighted to jump straight back into the system I hadn’t long left and stay in it for the rest of my life.

Working for a consultancy was quite strange. After I was a tutor, I got a place on a training scheme for Coopers and Lybrand. I trained in tax and then did what became an MSc in human resource management. There was no defined career path – it was all dependent on which projects came up. I worked on projects for private firms, local authorities and the Home Office.

The academic life appealed to me. While studying for my masters, I got on with my lecturers and began to think they had a very good job. They were doing interesting stuff and were able to do it in an apparently relaxed way. At professional services firms, such as the one I was working for, there were constant interruption from emails and phone calls. I wanted the ability to be able to think, so I decided to go into academia.

I am a university teacher, not an academic. I call myself a university teacher rather than an academic because the role spans teaching, training, consultancy and (where possible) research. There is not the same level of funding for the modern universities, so the scope for pure research is sometimes more limited.

Once upon a time, I was an officer in the Army Cadet Force. Training teenagers in this role took up a lot of time. I have three children now, and the demands are a bit too much.

I narrowly avoided a terrorist attack last year. I visited Abuja in Nigeria last year, two days after an incident at a shopping centre. Some of the people I met had been injured.

I am a practicing Christian. Sometimes people ask me about why I am interested in religion at work. I believe that taking on any research it is important that it is of personal interest. I have seen people take on dry subjects in which they had little interest and struggle. In my research I try to look at situations objectively, but the fact I can empathise with people who want to express religion at work has helped enormously.

I admire the Archbishop of Canterbury. Justin Welby has managed to apply some of his extensive work experience in the oil industry to good effect in the way he approaches his difficult role leading the Church of England and dealing with the UK government.

Read Andrew’s Management Article of the Year entry in Winning Ideas – a special, CMI compilation of the Top Five pieces

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