Interview with Taskeen Iqbal (RUB) – UNIC4ER Seed fund

Insights into the German-Irish research cooperation project CSwell

Ms Taskeen Iqbal works as a research assistant and doctoral candidate at the Chair for Industrial Sales and Service Engineering (ISSE) at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and is part of the team of Prof. Dr. Jens Pöppelbuß. Together with a team from Ruhr University Bochum (RUB), Germany and the University College Cork (UCC), Ireland, she researches on mental health and wellbeing in an employees’ context, searching for impacts and recommendations on both the employees’ and the organisational level. The project “CSwell” is supported as one of the UNIC4ER Seed fund initiatives at RUB. 

Your project aims to publish a study based on your international research collaboration. A project meeting in Bochum - with colleagues from Ireland, Maria O’Malley and Aine O’Donovan, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University College Cork (UCC) - was a central milestone in the process. What has been the most important benefit of the international cooperation for you so far, Taskeen? 

The biggest benefit of the international cooperation has been, first of all, getting a new perspective on approaching mental health and wellbeing issues. Maria and Aine from UCC are highly experienced in their field and they are up to date when it comes to the current practices applied in the mental health and wellbeing domain. For me, it was interesting to get to know more about the recent developments of mental health and wellbeing approaches in research such as intervision. 


What can we learn from the Irish universities and Irish academic culture in Bochum?

The Irish academic culture promotes in-person conversations, particularly in the context of mental health and wellbeing issues, especially during the crucial stage of identifying the sources of stress. Maria and Aine travelled all the way from Ireland to Germany with the explicit goal to facilitate our workshop in a face-to-face format to create a conducive and positive atmosphere for all the participants. I love the dedication they have towards their research and how assertive they are in assuring that all the participants get the respective atmosphere that is necessary for identifying the sources of stress in a workshop format. 

I learned that we should try to tend more and more towards in-person format workshops, especially when we are addressing a problem identification stage, because it creates a whole different atmosphere, it grasps the motivation and attention of the participants, and it is good to induce deep conversations. 


As CSwell is an an Engaged Research project, the collaboration with external stakeholders and the creation of societal impact of the project are central. Additionally, to increase the collaborative and participatory character of the project, you chose the method of Action Research. What is understood as Action Research and how did it work for you so far? 

Action Research integrates theoretical frameworks and practical application, combining the efforts of researchers and practitioners within an ethically sound framework to address societal issues through reflective change. This collaborative approach is characterized by an iterative cycle of activities, which contains 1) problem identification, 2) intervention implementation, and 3) reflective learning, aimed at achieving tangible improvements in the field of concern, in our case the mental health and wellbeing field. In our application of the Action Research cycle, we identified an intervention to reduce stress, build resilience and wellbeing. For this we used consensus building workshops ensuring that the intervention was grounded in collective insight and agreement. So far, we had a great experience with the participants as well as significant progress of the project.


What are your plans for the future regarding the project? 

Well, I am really excited for the publishing procedure and to see what kind of impact our consensus building workshops will have on the participants and how this will shape the results and our findings. Besides this, I can definitely emphasize that I love the topic and I see myself working on this topic in the future as I want to stay in the academic field. Even after I finish my PhD, I will pursue the topic of mental health and wellbeing in the field of customer success management because I think the learnings from this project can be applied in other settings, other context, and other cultures. 

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