Parent Mentoring

In 2015, Shared Parental Leave was introduced for all members of staff who meet the eligibility criteria, which is aimed at giving new parents the opportunity 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 and 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. 

Parent Mentors

Dr Colin Cotter - Senior Lecturer, Department of Mathematics

cotter I have been a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics since November 2013, having previously been a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in the Department of Aeronautics. 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 the Admissions Tutor for Mathematics and am part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth CDT team. I'm currently supervising three PhD students and two PDRAs. I have one daughter, aged 5, who has just started Year 1 at Primary School, and a son, who is 3. I use childcare near home (including breakfast and after school clubs for my daughter) so that I can share responsibilities with my wife, who works for the Civil Service. I work full time, coming into work 4 days a week and staying at home one - most of this day is spent looking after my son (and daughter when she gets home from school). I am able to make up time by working in the evenings.

I am happy to provide discussions on:

  • agreeing flexible working with your department
  • sharing responsibilities with your partner and flexible working
  • finding the balance between being a parent and work
  • transition from using childcare to primary school

My tips:

  • start banking childcare vouchers as soon as the child is born
  • being time pressured gives you the chance to prioritise and become more efficient
  • 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

Siobhain Griffin - HR Manager, Faculty of Medicine

griffin I have been a HR Manager in the Faculty of Medicine since September 2007 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 a HR Adviser, 2 Senior HR Administrators and a HR Assistant.

I have two daughters, aged 2 and 4 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 made easier having excellent childcare in place and believing 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 with 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 are thinking 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

hepworth My role is to connect more of Imperial’s academics, students and discoveries with leading entrepreneurs and pioneers from 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 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.

Prior to 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 in order 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.


Professor Christopher Jackson - Department of Earth Science and Engineering


I am currently a Professor in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering. My primary research interests are in the use of subsurface and field data to constrain the way in which the Earth’s crust is deformed, and the way in which ancient land- and seascapes evolve. I am Co-Deputy Director for the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course, and have recently contributed to Imperial College’s roll-out of DORA.
I am a member of the Basins Research Group, where I co-supervise 12 PhD students. I have three daughters, Olive (6, going on 60), Hazel (4), and Nora (1). Olive and Hazel are in Year 1 and reception, respectively, at our local primary school in Acton, which is only 250 m from the house and thus very handy. My wife, Vicki, is currently not working, thus she deals with most of the childcare and I work full-time. However, it is very important to me to take an active role in looking after the kids; hence the occasional afternoons or mornings off work to attend their dance classes or to meet them in the park, or look after the kids whilst Vicki attends their school, where she is a parent-governor.
I guess my situation is quite different to many of the others documented here, with me working full-time and my wife currently not working. There are still challenges related to imbalances that may arise from the situation and, more generally, the dreaded ‘work-life balance’, thus I am happy to discuss this and take tips from anyone else in a similar situation.


Dr Aimee Morgans - Reader in the Department of Mechanical Engineering

morgansI am a Reader in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering. I run a research group which aims to (i) develop better ways of modelling and suppressing combustion instability in gas turbines, and (ii) model and reduce the aerodynamic drag of bluff bodies such as road vehicles. I teach a third year course on our MEng degree programme, and supervise project students. I am the Department’s Athena SWAN coordinator.

I have two girls, born in 2009 and 2012. I returned to work after 6 months both times, using childcare near home so that I could share responsibilities with my partner (and cycle into work!). I have worked full time since returning both times, spending one day a week working from home.

I have experience of negotiating maternity leave and Elsie Widdowson Fellowships within a male-dominated department, maintaining regular contact with PhD students throughout maternity leave and coping with sleep deprivation and full-time work.

I am happy to provide discussions on:

Top Tips

  • Building up a support network outside of your department within college can be invaluable
  • Make good use of some of the college-wide schemes, like Elsie Widdowson Fellowships
  • The early years fly by - the intensity of the juggling won't last forever!


Dr Kevin Murphy - Reader in Endocrinology, Department of Medicine

murphy I am a Reader in Endocrinology in the Department of Medicine. I run a small research team investigating how the gut senses food in order to regulate appetite. I am Director of Postgraduate Studies (Research) for the Department of Medicine, and so 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 admissions tutor with responsibility 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 2008  and girls born 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 - NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Diabetes and Endocrinology, Hammersmith

salem I am an NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Diabetes and Endocrinology. I am based at the Hammersmith campus, and my research interest is in the neuroendocrinology of obesity. I am currently working fulltime on the laboratory side but have decided to switch to flexible training at 50% when I do the clinical part of my post, as the NHS side tends to be less flexible.

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 within 4 years and am now pursuing a career as a Clinician Scientist.

I am also the Faculty of Medicine Athena SWAN coordinator, driven by my own personal experience of the struggle 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
  • I am a parent's rep at the Hammersmith nursery (Tickletum) - where all of my children have been since age 5 months
  • Coping with the triumvirate of demands from your kids, your patients and the need to publish - each one a fulltime jobs, but there is only one of you!


Professor Spencer Sherwin - Department of Aeronautics

sherwin I am currently a Professor in the Department of Aeronautics where I have worked for the past twenty years. My research is involves the development and application of advanced computational methods typically applied to fluid mechanics problems ranging from biomedical flows to formula one cars. I serve on the Departmental Management Committee and for my sins have also acted as the lead coordinate o move our department across campus which will eventually happen in 2017. 
I have two daughters aged 8 and 10 who now go to local state schools near to where we live 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 child minding responsibilities but that is also greatly assisted by the support of an au pair who lives with us. I am happy to provide support and advice on various aspects of being a parent including work life balance/ flexible working.


Lisa Umenyiora - Assistant Programme Director, Imperial College Business School

Umenyiora As Executive Director of Careers at Imperial College Business School, I am responsible for the strategic planning and delivery of the Careers department, which supports over 2,000 post-graduate students at the School.  I manage a team of 24 and have supported a number of staff to plan for and return to work after maternity/paternity leave.  I have coached post-experience students who are concerned about how to manage the impact that starting a family might have on their career.  I am also a work-based coach with College’s Coaching Academy, supporting colleagues around College.

I have two daughters, aged 11 and 14, who both attended the Imperial nursery from an early age (6-9 months), attended breakfast and afterschool club throughout primary school, and are now both at secondary school – time flies! I work full time with 4 days a week in the office and 1 day a week working from home, helping me to juggle the work/life balance.  It’s not easy handling the challenges that a busy work and family life can throw at you but I’ve learnt to manage it over the years and adapt my approach as my role has changed and my girls have grown.

I love talking to people about their family situation and hearing how they manage the various challenges that arise as their kids grow up, it’s great to learn from and support each other. 

I am very happy to give advice/offer support on a range of issues including:

  • Preparing for maternity leave
  • Returning to work
  • Childcare options
  • Flexible working, work/life balance
  • Career progression with children
  • Preparing for your child to start school

Top Tips

Don't formalise your childcare arrangements at the start of your pregnancy - your ideas may well change once you’ve had your baby.
Get your baby used to taking bottles (from someone other than you) well in advance of returning to work.
Don’t make any big decisions on 4 hours sleep.


Dr David Wilson - Head of Research Support, Imperial College Business School

David Wilson 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 come up 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 south-east London as a result. 
My daughter is now in a local nursery three days a week while my wife and I each work one day a week from home. 
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.