Fiona Watt, Senior Laboratory Technician

Fiona Watt is a Senior Laboratory Technician for the Sir Alexander Fleming Building. She is part of the team of Life Sciences core research technicians, whose service includes waste processing and management, autoclaving and glass washing, and oversight over laboratories and departmental spaces to support the important and exciting research done within the department.

“Every day is different, I enjoy working with a wide range of colleagues to understand the needs of the department and act to address these.

To highlight just a few aspects of the role, I act as a point of communication for buildings and facilities issues, assist with small projects and lab refurbishment, provide support for health and safety issues, and organize equipment training, maintenance, and repair. 

Along with the more routine tasks comes a share of reactive work, dealing with problems as they arise such as equipment/facility failures and responding to critical alarms for controlled environment rooms, including cold & warm rooms, insectaries, and plant growth rooms to minimize disruption to research where possible. Whilst this can be challenging it is rewarding to see steps being taken in improving the safety and reliability of our spaces!"

Fiona has been working in technical roles for the last eight years in labs, having moved from Biology teaching provision to multi-user research labs across the Microbiology and Biochemistry departments. She applied for her first technician role with a view to work in a lab environment with a lot of variety and found that her organization skills lent themselves well to the job.  She moved to Imperial in 2022 as a development opportunity, to gain a larger and more complex remit and take on line-management.

“Whilst there is plenty of room for personal development and growth, technical roles in HE don’t commonly have promotion pathways so flexibility and adaptability are important for career progression steps, which are often diagonal.”

Over the next six months Fiona is taking part in The Herschel Programme for Women in Technical Leadership , which aims to support women and their career progression in technical leadership. The programme provides workshops and a community of like-minded women to share experiences, build transferable skills and gain confidence to our advantage in the workplace.

“I look forward to gaining insight into the career trajectories of women in similar roles and a broader view of the opportunities available in technical leadership.

Advice for my younger self would be to take ownership of your personal development as early as you can - no one cares more about what happens to your career than yourself! Whilst it can drop to the bottom of the priority list at times, it makes a lot of sense to think about what you enjoy, areas you are doing well in and those you can improve or explore to open yourself up to new opportunities.”