Connected Conversations | Ben Kile
University life as we know it has temporarily changed. As we all adapt to the new normal away from lecture theatres and our peers, we’ve been chatting–remotely, of course–with a some of our incredible community about the challenges they are facing and how they are finding unexpected opportunities. Our new series, Connected Conversations, kicks off with our Executive Dean Professor Benjamin Kile.
Tell us about yourself...
I’m the new (is six months still new?) Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. I live in Kensington Park with my wife and three children (14, 12 and 9 years old). I moved here from Melbourne (Monash University) last October. I’m a medical researcher (blood cells, molecular genetics, cancer, cell death, inflammation) and am loving life in Adelaide. I think South Australians are far too modest about their state.
Have the changes at University impacted your routine?
I usually spend all day every day in meetings big and small, talking to people face-to-face. So, COVID-19 has put a bit of a crimp in that whole side of things.
What do you miss about physically being at the University?
Has the situation enabled you to do more/less in your role?
The last couple of months have been a crash course in how the faculty operates. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about things that don’t get as much attention as they do when things are normal. I’ve also realised how phenomenally interconnected and interdependent we are with medical clinics, health networks, state and federal government, accrediting bodies, funding agencies, other universities, the list goes on….
What opportunities do you see?
There is no doubt we will have the opportunity to do things differently in future. Just as with our personal lives, we will be thinking hard about what we used to do that we want to pick up again, which things we don’t, and what new ways of living appeal. At work, we’ll be able to reflect on how we used to operate, and what we’ve learnt in the process of responding to COVID-19. I suspect we’ll be a little more sensitive to the value of time and how we spend it.
Name one thing during this time that has pleasantly surprised you
The way the faculty has responded has been amazing. I don’t yet know everyone personally, or understand everything we do in detail, but I can tell you from the bird’s eye perspective it has been super impressive.
Do you have any advice for staying motivated?
- Remember, no matter how difficult it gets, LOTS of people are doing it much harder.
- When things seem a bit grim, figure out how to help someone else in some way, big or small, and do it. Helping others never fails to improve your mood, it’s almost a selfish act.
What are three things you won’t forget about this current time?
- Some of the things we used to do that seemed to be set in stone, can be changed and done differently.
- Predicting the future is hard, no matter how technologically advanced we get.
- Investing in research, in all its many forms—even the esoteric and seemingly incomprehensible—is essential.