In 2015, Shared Parental Leave was introduced for all members of staff who meet the eligibility criteria, which is aimed at allowing new parents to more equally share responsibility for childcare and to support fathers and secondary adopters to take a period of paid parental leave.
As a result, the College recognises that both men and women would benefit from support in the transition in becoming a working parent and has now extended the maternity mentoring scheme to include new fathers and adopters. The scheme is now being re-launched as the Parent Mentoring Scheme.
Mentors are not trained counsellors or experts but volunteers who have been trained in practical mentoring skills and can share their personal experiences and offer support and advice on a range of issues around being a working parent or parent to be.
The scheme is informal, so it is for individuals to contact a mentor directly who would be most suitable to their needs. Below is a list of Parent Mentors available with contact details.
If you have any queries in relation to the scheme, please contact Emily Michael, Employee Engagement Coordinator.
Dr Colin Cotter - Professor in the Department of Mathematics
I am a professor in the Department of Mathematics. I joined the department in November 2013, having previously been in the Department of Aeronautics since 2006. I research applied numerical analysis and scientific computing, in particular the design, analysis and implementation of methods and algorithms for numerical weather prediction and ocean modelling. I'm part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth CDT team. I'm currently supervising three PhD students and two PDRAs. I have one daughter transitioning to secondary school and one son at primary school. In the pre-pandemic era, I used childcare near home (breakfast and after school clubs) to share responsibilities with my wife, who works for the Civil Service (hopefully, these childcare options become available again soon). I work full time, and in the pre-pandemic era, I worked one day a week at home, initially to look after pre-school kids but more recently to provide a balance with after school childcare.
I am happy to chat with future/current parents on:
- agreeing on flexible working with your department
- sharing responsibilities with your partner and flexible working
- finding the balance between being a parent and work
- the insane London school admissions system
- the transition from using childcare to primary school
- start banking childcare vouchers as soon as the child is born
- talking to other parents in the college makes it seem less daunting
- make sure that you still make some time for talking about your work with others
- learn to say no occasionally at work
- don't be so hard on yourself
Siobhain Griffin - HR Partner, Faculty of Medicine
I have been an HR Partner in the Faculty of Medicine since September 2019, and I am responsible for ensuring a comprehensive and efficient HR service is provided to the National Heart and Lung Institute, the College CBS Facility and the Faculty Centre. This covers approximately 800 members of staff. I manage a team of 4 staff consisting of an HR Adviser, 2 Senior HR Administrators and an HR Assistant.
I have two daughters, aged 10 and 12 years. Both attended the EYEC aged 9 months (one still there), and my eldest is now enjoying primary school. I work 4.5 days a week with half a day working from home.
It was difficult leaving them at such a young age, but it was definitely easier to have excellent childcare in place, and I believe that I shouldn't feel guilty going back to work. I have found the demands of a busy workload, managing a team and family life extremely challenging, but I can safely say I am now in a good place balancing everything!
As a Maternity Buddy, I have enjoyed helping other women returning from maternity leave with advice in the following areas:
- Childcare options and voucher schemes
- HR-related information
- Flexible working, work/life balance
- Career progression with children, especially those in Medicine/Clinical posts
- Preparing for your child to start school
I also believe that being in HR has assisted in some cases as it has meant the individual has gained personal and professional advice in a one-stop-shop. This has been particularly helpful when individuals feel they have not been clear on what options are open to them with potential flexible working, how to approach it and what advice is helpful with those who may have managers who are not entirely supportive.
If you think of benefitting from the EYEC Childcare option on return from maternity leave, please do get your name down as soon as you know you are pregnant; the waiting list is 18 months in duration. Such an early time to consider this, but if you wish to decline a place on return and choose another route, at least you have another option open to you.
Don't underestimate how being away from work for a period of time can affect your confidence. Keeping in touch days are a good way of gently easing yourself back to work, and you will be paid for them! Take time when you return to adjust to organisational changes and to familiarise yourself again with your post. Although things may stay relatively the same, you are now a very different person with different priorities. You have also just been through a major life change.
Dr Simon Hepworth – Director of Enterprise
My role is to connect more of Imperial’s academics, students and discoveries with leading entrepreneurs and pioneers from the industry. My ultimate goal is to generate more opportunities for collaboration that make a real-world impact. I joined Imperial College in September 2009 with 14 years of corporate experience in the automotive and electronics sectors. I was a founder of the Corporate Partnerships activity at Imperial and led the development of the Imperial Business Partners membership programme and the Foresight Practice. I am currently Chairman of the board of Imperial College Consultants Ltd (ICON) and sits on the Innovations Partnership Board, which oversees the technology transfer operations of the university.
Before joining Imperial, I held engineering and commercial roles at Visteon and Ford Motor Company in the UK and overseas. I am an Engineer by training, with a DPhil in neural network-based control from Oxford University and a BEng in systems engineering from Salford University.
I have 3 children, currently aged 12, 10 and 5. I commute by train from outside London. My wife is a part-time primary school teacher. Our children have attended nursery, before school and after school clubs to let their parents work. I have done my fair share of morning drop-offs, taking time out when they are sick, and working from home when there are special events like school plays and sports events. I am happy to share stories on the above and my thoughts on dealing with the inevitable time pressures and conflicts of attention that arise from meeting demanding expectations at work and at home.
Dr Aimee Morgans - Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering
I am a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering. My research interests are sound, flames and aerodynamics.
I have two daughters, born in 2009 and 2012 when I was a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, respectively. I returned to work after six months both times, using childcare near home to share responsibilities with my partner.
In 2019 I took unpaid parental leave over the summer to go on a six-week family trip around Southern Thailand. My older daughter has recently started at a local state secondary school.
I am happy to provide discussions on:
- Managing maternity leave as an academic, including Elsie Widdowson fellowships, especially within a male-dominated department.
- Navigating promotions after parental leave.
- Building up a support network outside of your department within the college can be invaluable.
- Find out about college and national schemes, like Elsie Widdowson Fellowships and unpaid parental leave.
Dr Kevin Murphy - Professor in Endocrinology, Department of Medicine
I am a Professor in Endocrinology in the Department of Medicine. I run a small research team investigating how the gut senses food to regulate appetite. I am Director of Postgraduate Studies (Research) for the Department of Medicine and responsible for the progress of the approximately 330 postgraduate students we host. I have a number of teaching responsibilities, including being Director of the Intercalated BSc in Endocrinology. In addition, I am heavily involved in Outreach for the Faculty of Medicine; I'm an admissions tutor responsible for widening participation in medicine and lead for our flagship 'Pathways to Medicine' programme, which is supported by the social mobility charity the Sutton Trust.
I have three children (a boy born in 2008 and girls born in 2010 and 2012) and work full time. I am happy to discuss issues including, for example, juggling multiple roles with parenthood, flexible working, and the difficulties of time pressures and deadlines.
Dr Vicky Salem - Clinical Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering
I have traversed the clinical academic training route at Imperial, from PhD to NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Diabetes and Endocrinology. I am now a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering, having completed an Intermediate Clinician Scientist fellowship and Honorary Consultant in Endocrinology and GIM. My lab is based at the South Ken campus, and my research interest is in vivo functional imaging platforms to understand the neuroendocrinology of obesity and glucose homeostasis. I am currently working 80% on the laboratory side and 20% at Charing Cross (AMU and some diabetes clinics). I flexibly trained during my final years as a registrar.
During my PhD here at Imperial, I had three babies (Anna b. 2010, Saul b. 2011 and Giorgia b. 2012). With a mixture of fantastic support from my laboratory and a great deal of juggling, I managed to complete it within 4 years. The real struggle was managing a clinical lectureship, winning an intermediate fellowship and maintaining competitiveness for a tenured position. I led two departmental Athena SWAN award, driven by my own personal experience of the difficulties that many women face during the crucial early post-doc years.
I certainly don’t have all of the answers - every person's situation is different - but I would be happy to provide the following areas of support:
- Information about all that the College has to offer to help female academics, particularly those with caring responsibilities
- How to plan for and handle maternity leave
- A sympathetic ear - sometimes, when you are physically exhausted, you need someone to remind you not to give up
- Choosing childcare and working patterns
- Identifying your priorities and ambitions
- Coping with the triumvirate of demands from your kids, your patients and the need to publish - each one a full-time job, but there is only one of you!
Professor Spencer Sherwin - Department of Aeronautics
I am currently a Professor in the Department of Aeronautics, where I have worked at Imperial for the past twenty-five years. My research involves developing and applying advanced computational methods typically applied to fluid mechanics problems ranging from biomedical flows to formula one cars. I serve on the Departmental Management Committee in Aeronautics and have held the role of Director of Research Computing Service within the college since 2017.
I have two daughters aged 14 and 16, one who attends the Lycée Francais in South Kensington and the other attending a state school in Clapham. Both daughters previously went to the nursery at Imperial. My wife works full time and generally supports the family financially.
We try to balance our childminding responsibilities, and I am happy to provide advice on any aspects of being a parent, including work-life balance and flexible working.
Dr David Wilson - Head of Research Support, Imperial College Business School
I am Head of Research Support in the Business School, which encompasses support for grant applications, the School’s REF submission, research policy and most other things that can be lumped together under the broad heading of research support.
I have a daughter born in January 2015 and took additional paternity leave from September 2015 until January 2016 while my wife went back to work. I developed a detailed knowledge of playgroups and baby-friendly cafes in southeast London as a result.
My daughter is now in primary school and in an after-school club three days a week while my wife and I, pre-pandemic, each worked one day a week from home. We expect to work from home more often post-pandemic.
I am happy to talk to anyone about sharing parental leave, flexible working and any other parenting issues, as long as it’s understood that I’m making it up as I go along the same way as everybody else with a small child.”