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My career

As Senior Data Analyst at NPL, my workday is usually split in two ways. I am often working through high volumes of data and pulling out information to look at trends. The second part is focussed on AI community practises, which included talking on committees and boards.

Another important part of my life at NPL is being part of the LGBTQ+ network and looking after the well-being of colleagues and helping to nurture the community.

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My challenges

I’ll always face career limitations, for example, the first time I had an interview as a transgender woman I could tell they didn’t want me as the face of their organisation or the fact that there are countries, I used to work in that I could never safely go back to.

It might be really scary to be yourself but it’s better to live a life visible than a life in hiding.

 

My advice

It might be really scary to be yourself but it’s better to live a life visible than a life in hiding. It has taken me the longest part of my life to learn that, and I wish I could tell my younger self to be more confident.

I think that being part of a community that’s on the outside and the edge of things, actually helped me in many professional situations. We often observe differences and issues not being in the mainstream.

 

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My experience

The experience I want to talk about today started in 2020 when I realised after many losses that I couldn’t carry a baby, so my husband and I were looking for alternative routes to have our own biological child. Our eventual chosen outcome was to pursue surrogacy.

If I hadn’t of received the support I did, I would have had to leave because I wouldn’t have been able to cope.

 

My challenges 

I had kept this journey very private at work and only told my manager when I had to and needed to discuss maternity leave. Legally I knew I was entitled to full parental leave, but the details were a little cloudy.  

What impressed me from the start, when I first told NPL and my line manager at the time, was the support I received across the organisation. Our HR policy didn’t specifically mention surrogacy, but I was immediately told that I didn’t have to worry and that I’d be entitled to maternity leave. By the time I was back to work from my maternity leave, there was an updated maternity adoption and surrogacy policy in place. I’m proud to have been part of breaking that barrier down.  

My advice

My advice to anyone experiencing a big issue in their personal life is to talk to your colleagues. Even a small circle of people because it will make everyday life and coming to work much easier.  

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My career

I started off back in 1979 as a 16 year old school-leaver going into an apprenticeship with, what at the time was called, Post Office, which later became British Telecoms. I was working in their test department and that meant, as a young person, I was not only going to college to learn about electronics and telecommunications, but I was also getting hands on experience in laboratories.

Over the years I had several jobs at various laboratories across the country until I joined NPL in 2017. I started working in business development and moved to work in NPL’s Huddersfield site as the laboratory manager.

My challenges

Throughout my career there have been a couple of challenges. We used to have a school's career service, which was terrible back in the day. I remember my careers advisor saying to me, what do you want to do? I said, “I want be a scientist”. They said “No, that's not for you. You should go into banking.”

Interact with as many people as you can. Think positively of everybody.

 

My advice

Be open and honest about your feelings about things. Share your thoughts. Interact with as many people as you can. Think positively of everybody.

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Read Andy's story

My career

My average day consists generally of various admin and coordination tasks, both routine and responding to more urgent incoming requests as these arise, making sure that anything that needs arranging is sorted. 

I've always wanted to write from childhood. I certainly never thought I'd go into admin and probably would have found that idea quite boring as a child.  

My challenges

I think a big barrier throughout was my mental health. I have a bipolar diagnosis. I was diagnosed in 2013 and it got to the point where I barely managed to finish my studies. 

From about the age of 14 or 15, I'd struggled with depression, and it seemed like the help I was getting wasn't enough.

 

My advice

My advice for anyone going through similar experiences is to be kind to yourself and make self-care a priority. It's quite cliche, but that's important in a work setting. 

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My career

I’ve worked at NPL for 25 years and am a Senior Scientist in the Advanced Engineering Materials team. I am not a career-driven person but have been able to achieve real variety in my work, which has kept the science interesting. I have been able to challenge myself without feeling I have to aim for promotion to succeed.

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My challenges

When I came back to work after my first maternity leave, I could only do two days a week to start with because that was all the space they had at the nursery, which made getting back into the swing of work hard. I now work 4 shorter days a week and really appreciate the flexibility of hybrid working. It's made a massive difference for me not feeling like I'm missing out on things because I work part time. When I used to be on-site every day, I had to leave at 2:15 to get back for the school run and often felt I was missing out on important meetings.

Work-life balance

Alongside my usual work, I run the Parents’ Network. As a parent working part time, it's great that NPL is now so flexible in terms of hybrid working. I can work from home and take control of my schedule to balance my commitments between work and home life. I also have the flexibility to come onto site whenever I am needed for face-to-face meetings.

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My career

I hadn’t considered NPL as a place to apply, as I was looking for jobs in Cambridge area. To my surprise I learned NPL had hubs across the country, including one in Cambridge. Shortly afterwards I came across the job position in the data science department and applied.

If I think back 10 or so years, I honestly never thought I would get to where I am now. I am surrounded by bright and quick-thinking people.

 

My challenges

If I think back 10 or so years, I honestly never thought I would get to where I am now. I am surrounded by bright and quick-thinking people, who know so much more than me and publish great research. 

From time to time, you will doubt yourself and your worth. Yet every now and then there will be moments when you realise your work matters and adds value.

 

My advice

I think it’s important to consider your career not as a progression of pre-defined steps, but as something that you choose to fulfil your needs at different life stages.

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