What is your current position?
Technical Manager in the Faculty of Engineering and Design.
How long have you worked at the University?
Just over seven years.
What did you do before that?
I graduated with a degree in Geology from the University of Bristol, and not really knowing what to do next I ended up doing a PGCE training as a science teacher at Keele University. I spent just over a year teaching in a secondary school in Weston-Super-Mare before deciding it wasn’t for me! For a few months I was doing various jobs, mostly relating to science education, such as after-school science clubs for primary age children before getting a job as a science technician at a school in Bristol. I always spent a lot of time with the technicians while I was teaching, and they definitely dug me out of many a hole during this time. I’ve always been drawn to practical and support roles (I was the one on the sound desk rather than the stage at school!), and I loved this job. It was a perfect mix of practical work, getting involved in lessons and field trips and interacting with students, and it was a good work-life balance.
Tell us about your journey so far at Bath
By chance, I saw a job advertised at Bath for a technician in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering. The full job title was ‘concrete, soils and innovative building materials technician’, which is a bit of a mouthful, but I decided to try my luck and got the job. The combination of my geology, teaching and laboratory experience was a good match to the role, and I was mainly responsible for the soils lab. I learned a huge amount starting here, as although I had relevant experience, much of the subject was new to me. I was also pleased to have the opportunity to support a 2nd year geology and surveying field trip, which I still help lead.
I took up the role of Technical Supervisor when my line manager left. I wanted to challenge myself and this was stepping outside of my comfort zone, taking on responsibilities I had not had before. As before, this was a learning curve, and I soon realised it was not as straightforward as it may seem, managing the demands and expectations of both the department and my team! In this role I took every opportunity I could to develop further, attending in-house courses to work on my leadership and management skills, and making contacts around the University who could advise and support.
When Graham Mott retired in 2017, I again seized the opportunity to challenge myself and took on the role of Technical Manager. (More about that here.) In the same year I also moved house and had a baby so 2017 was a busy one! In my previous role I valued the ability to make more of a difference, and started to see how I could improve the visibility of technical staff by getting involved more widely in activities around the University and being a voice for technicians. I’m not one to shout or wave placards about, but by making connections and asking “what about technicians?” wherever possible, I’ve started to see things change. In this role I’ve also been able to complete my ILM5 qualification, and have been accepted as a Technical Member of IOSH, both of which challenge me to continually think about my own development and not sit still in my job.
I was delighted to be asked to lead on the Technician Commitment for the University. I feel strongly about improving the visibility of technical staff and recognition for the work we do and I am determined to make an impact in this area at Bath. This is also brilliant for my own development – it continues to push me out of my comfort zone, trying new things and learning new skills. I get bored doing the same thing all the time, and one of the many benefits of working in higher education is that this doesn’t happen!