00:16 People who apply for funding to the Medical Research Council,
00:19 have to have their applications assessed, and one of the main ways we do that is through four research boards.
00:25 At the moment we meet three times a year,
00:27 so we would have maybe, at my board, we would have maybe 60 or 70 applications to consider at each board meeting.
00:38 My job is to prompt them about MRC policy,
00:43 to say, or strategy rather,
00:45 you know, if we’ve made a strategic decision that we’re going to particularly focus on one area of medicine over another,
00:51 then I perhaps might need to remind them of that.
00:53 Throughout the rest of the year, in between board meetings, that’s when the hard work happens,
00:57 because when an application comes in from an academic at a university,
01:02 we have to process it, so we have to check that they’re eligible,
01:06 we have to get it onto our systems, we’ve got to make sure they’ve included all the right pieces of information,
01:11 then we need to get the application refereed.
01:15 So there’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between us and the academic community.
01:22 I did chemistry GCSE at school, in fact I did 3 sciences,
01:26 and then I went and did A levels in chemistry, physics and double maths.
01:29 Chemistry was the one that I liked best,
01:31 and so when it came to going to university
01:34 I think I settled on chemistry because I enjoyed the subject but also it opened up a lot of opportunities for me.
01:40 I did my chemistry degree at Bristol, in my final year I did an undergraduate research project in one of the research labs there,
01:48 and I stayed in that lab there to do a PhD.
01:50 Mine was in analytical chemistry , and I was looking at fats in foods and how we can analyse them better and understand them better.
01:57 When I finished my PhD I went to work in industry for a couple of years.
02:04 I worked in the flavour industry, where I was analysing flavours,
02:08 helping people make new flavours for food and that sort of thing,
02:13 but after a couple of years I realised that although I was enjoying that I wasn’t really doing enough research it was more sort of just analysis,
02:19 so I decided to go back to academia, I went and did a post doc, again back at Bristol with people that I’d worked with before,
02:27 and then when I was there I was awarded a Personal Research Fellowship from the Royal Society.
02:32 So I had four years to you know, carve out my own research career.
02:41 I enjoyed the lab work, I enjoyed the lifestyle, but I don’t think I was enjoying it enough to put the hours in you need to succeed in academia,
02:48 which made me think it probably wasn’t for me.
02:50 So I started looking at other options.
02:53 So then I spent four years working in the environment agency doing science communications.
02:58 I was responsible for their technical publishing programme,
03:00 for making sure that all of our scientific reports got published properly.
03:06 So I was involved in writing those summaries, in producing all the reports and in how we communicated them
03:12 to the media, to the stakeholders or whatever.
03:15 And then after four years I decided it was time for a change again,
03:18 and I saw this job advertised for the Medical Research Council,
03:23 and again I thought ‘well, that looks quite interesting, why don’t I have a stab at that, why don’t I apply and see what happens?’
03:28 And here I am.
03:33 Like most organisations we use e-mail a lot,
03:36 but I really try to use the ‘phone a lot as well because I think particularly for sort of,
03:41 sort of everyday quick queries I’ve got for people,
03:44 you know, if I’m talking to the admin teams or whatever, then a lot of the time it can be sorted out over the phone.
03:52 As well as your scientific training, you need communication skills,
03:56 which is written and oral and all those sort of in-between things that aren’t always written down.
04:01 You’ve got to be a people person, I think you’ve got to be happy to talk to people because a lot of it is bringing people together.
04:09 And then there’s quite an analytical part of it which is looking at the processes and thinking ‘well how do we do these?’
04:15 At the moment, ‘could we do them better?’
04:18 And then there’s a sort of management role to sort of keep tabs on a lot of different things that are happening.
04:29 That the job’s interesting, I’ve got something kind of new to do every day which I like,
04:35 the people are nice, the other thing that is quite important for me is that the MRC are a flexible employer.
04:40 That’s really important for me to get work/life balance,
04:43 there are options to go part time, to do compressed hours,
04:46 all those things are really important,
04:48 I think for everybody but particularly for me.
RSC Careers Profile Videos by Royal Society of Chemistry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.