I am the Translational Medicine Lead within the Experimental Medicine division of NDM and a Research Fellow in Wolfson College. I am a member of the senior management group at the Translational Gastroenterology Unit. My responsibilities include the establishment of translational aspects of the unit (from bench to bed), facilitating the operation between the hospital staff and research laboratories and developing translational study protocols by implementing systematic procedures for translational studies. I also collaborate in several scientific projects in the unit and co-supervise students and postdocs in translational projects. My first degree was in Microbiology and my MSc and PhD in Immunology. My main interest is to translate basic research in mucosal immunology into treatments for inflammatory bowel disease.
As a bench scientist my hours have never been 9-5 since experiments would dictate the working times. However, when I became a mother I found I had to adapt my pattern where I could to fit the needs of my family and parental responsibilities such as school runs, school functions, doctor’s appointments etc. I remained full time, but now work those hours at flexible times to allow me to meet both the demands of work and home.
At first I needed to be very strict with myself. As my work became more managerial, with grant writing deadlines and trying to fit meetings, the hours changed again. I don’t always spend the whole time in my office but my phone has become an extension of my arm. This is an advantage but also requires discipline so that I don’t make myself available 24/7.
My line managers have always been very supportive as they have similar working patterns as myself. As the department has developed with Athena SWAN no one looks at you strangely if you say that you can’t attend a meeting at 8:00 a.m or at 6:00 p.m. This has had a huge impact on my quality of life. Most people in the department are aware of my flex time. They also know that I am very reliable and will get things done whether in my office or not.
My advice would be to be disciplined with yourself. Just because the technology is there it doesn’t mean that you need to answer emails at 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night or send emails to your team at that time. I am still working on that one!
Written July 2016