Having obtained his doctorate from Brunel University, and working on a UK government project on university-industry relations, Dr Kirkland was appointed as Director of the Research Services Bureau of the university in 1988. During six years in the post, external income from research contract almost doubled, and new initiatives were introduced in the areas of technology transfer, business liaison indirect cost recovery and staff training. In 1994, Dr. Kirkland was appointed as Secretary of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in London, from where he moved to the Association of Commonwealth Universities in 1999.
In addition to directing the ACU Research Management program, Dr. Kirkland's role as Deputy Secretary-General (Development) has included developing international networks for Human Resource Managers and university Public Relations and Marketing professionals. He has also developed a successful program to secure discounted access to academic journals for ACU members in developing countries, and acts as Executive Secretary to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK, the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission and the Commonwealth Universities Study Abroad Consortium.