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Elena Dimova: My Working Life

Published on: 1 Feb 2024

Andrew Nisbet: My Working Life


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I have always wanted to be a psychologist. When I was younger, I imagined myself working as a counselling therapist, helping people on an individual basis, but after completing my Master’s degree, I worked in research and found it fascinating. I ended up staying in academia, combining research with teaching.


Can you describe what you do in 1 sentence?

I teach and research about psychology and public health.


What 3 factors make you skip into work?

I love that I learn something new every day, and I find it rewarding to support students to achieve their academic goals. The third factor is my supportive and friendly colleagues.


What frustrates you most at work?

Academia can be really busy and work is often done as part of a team. What frustrates me is when people don’t organise their time well or don’t communicate with the team, which then affects everyone’s work. Sometimes when people are busy and stressed, they forget to be kind to each other, and this also frustrates me (although it doesn’t happen often).


Why would you recommend your career to a young person? 

As a lecturer, I feel I get the best of both worlds – to do teaching and research. Seeing students develop throughout their programme of study and supporting them to achieve their goals can be a very rewarding experience. Research can also be exciting and inspiring. I get to hear people’s stories and work towards making a positive change through helping to improve services or inform policy.


What has been your biggest career disappointment or challenge and why, and how did you overcome it?

Academia is notorious for high workloads and so it is a constant challenge to find and maintain a good work-life balance, as well as be kind to myself and the people around me. I can’t say I always do it that well, but continually reminding myself about what is most important to me helps.


What was your best career move?

I worked as a researcher after finishing my PhD and I found the most inspiring and supporting mentor who transformed my career. It was not only a good career move, but also taught me the importance of having supportive colleagues and being supportive of more junior colleagues as well.


What qualities do you think you need to do your job well?

Good organisation and time-management, and the ability to prioritise competing demands.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever got from a patient or work colleague?

To never compare yourself to other people.


What do you do to relax/de-stress?

I love spending time with friends and family, and my three cats. I also love doing jigsaws and reading fiction.



Dr Elena Dimova completed a BA (Hons) in Psychology in 2012 followed by an MSc in Health Psychology. After completing a  PhD in Health Psychology at the University of Stirling in 2019, she joined the British Psychological Society (BPS) register. Her first job was as a researcher at Glasgow Caledonian University in 2019 where she worked on several studies to understand and reduce alcohol use and alcohol-related harm among different groups in Scotland. These included understanding the impact of alcohol price rises on homeless people, exploring LGBTQ+ people’s experiences of alcohol treatment services, and understanding alcohol use among new dads and how they can be better supported.

Elena became a lecturer in psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in 2023, and is a member of the university’s substance use and child and adolescent health research groups. She teaches across the BSc (Hons) Applied Psychology and DPsych programmes in Counselling Psychology, Health Psychology and Sport and Exercise Psychology. She is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a chartered member of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and a full member of the BPS Division of Health Psychology.