Women series podcasts - Uta Griesenbach
This is the first in a series of podcast interviews which aims to celebrate and promote the brilliant female academics and researchers at NHLI, and to highlight Athena SWAN issues.
Uta Griesenbach is Professor of Molecular Medicine and she also co-leads the Gene Therapy Group of the Genetic Medicine & Population Health Division of NHLI.
Women series podcasts - Sian Harding
Lizzie Lomer, Education and Communications Administrator
Before joining Imperial College I spent three years at the Financial Ombudsman Service as an adjudicator, where my main responsibilities included resolving financial disputes and mentoring new colleagues within the redress department.
I started at NHLI as an Operations Trainee in October 2016. I applied for the Operations Trainee scheme at NHLI as I was attracted to the varying experience and training that it offered. I felt that the scheme provided the perfect opportunity for me to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to progress within the higher education sector.
My first rotation was with the Cardiovascular Section Administration team at Hammersmith Hospital. After a month I was given my own section to run which was a fantastic way for me to gain first-hand experience of Section Administration. My responsibilities included monitoring grant budgets, acting as point of contact for investigators and fellows, assisting with new staff appointments and ensuring new grant applications were costed effectively. After six months I then moved to the Royal Brompton campus to start my second rotation within the Education Team, assisting academics with the development and management of Master’s programmes. After six months I successfully applied for my current position, Education and Communications Administrator.
As Education and Communications Administrator, I support NHLI’s Communications and Website Officer with the implementation of department marketing initiatives and promotion of education programmes and courses, as well as providing administrative support to the Course Directors for two Master’s programmes.
The trainee scheme was a great stepping stone for me to gain a real insight into the world of Higher Education.
Lucy Bell, NHLI Operations Trainee
How did you find out about the Operations Trainee role?
I found the advert on jobs.ac.uk. Having never worked in universities before I was looking for something which would give me broad experience so this was perfect as it would give me the opportunity to work in a number of different areas.
What kind of work have you done at NHLI?
I started working in postgraduate admissions so was dealing with prospective PhD students and got to know the admissions and registration process. I was then given the opportunity to cover a maternity leave as a section administrator, so I have been looking after the funding, finance and HR for a number of our academics. This has given me experience of the work that needs to be done to apply for a grant and the administration of grant funds. Alongside this I’ve also done lots of training courses, I’ve helped with the setup of the department Twitter account and have been part of the recruitment process for the next trainee scheme.
What have been the highlights so far?
The team have been really welcoming and friendly, and have been really helpful with any questions I have as I get to know the job. I reviewed our internal admissions process in my role in education, and it’s been great to see that working. I did the costing for quite a big grant when I started in section administration which was great for me to learn the process, as well as work with the professor to make sure that the application was as accurate as possible.
Would you recommend applying for future openings?
This is a great role for someone interested in working in higher education who wants to get experience in a few roles before deciding what path to go down. NHLI management have been really supportive in enabling me to get involved with anything that I’ve been interested in, and I’ve benefitted from being able to work in areas that I haven’t done previously.
What have been the main benefits?
I came from a retail background so I had very little knowledge of how a university works, other than from my experience of being a student myself. Doing work in a number of areas has given me exposure to lots of different roles, and I’ve been able to develop skills which I haven’t used in my previous jobs. I can edit the website, I helped design our social media strategy and I have become competent in managing grants and using various systems. Working in a completely new environment has meant I’ve had to use my initiative to find the answers to my questions, and I’ve enjoyed the variety and challenge of the role.
Dr Maija Maskuniitty, Career Development Coordinator
I started at NHLI in February 2014 as a Section Administrator for the Airway Disease section, after working as a Project Manager at the Institute of Chemical Biology where I had also previously done my PhD. In September 2014 I was appointed as the NHLI Career Development Coordinator and have been in that post since then. I am responsible for the Institute’s career development processes – including academic recruitment and academic probation – and I also act as the NHLI Athena SWAN Administrative Lead.
When I started at NHLI I was worried that my limited experience of working in university administration would be a disadvantage and that making the transition from research to an administration and management role would be difficult. However, this worry proved to be unfounded; on the contrary, I feel that my research background has helped me enormously when working with academics and researchers.
One process that I have found particularly useful is the annual Personal Review and Development Plan (PRDP) meeting with my manager. Even though we have regular meetings and periodically talk about my career development over the year, the PRDP meeting can really help review and summarise achievements and goals and re-focus on things that are important.
I have also found the training courses organised by the College’s Learning and Development Centre really useful and am currently in the process of completing the Imperial Leadership and Management Development Programme (ILMDP). The courses within the programme include, but are not limited to, management, recruitment and equality and diversity. These training courses can be really helpful in giving you new perspective in relation to your job and they also give you an opportunity to discuss any issues you might have with people from other departments in the College.
The supportive environment in the central NHLI admin team has also been instrumental for my career development. You should never underestimate the career advice and pastoral support you can receive from your colleagues and managers!