I graduated with a first-class degree in Chemistry (1990) and a PhD in Materials Chemistry (1996) from the University of Manchester. Following postdoctoral posts at the University of Wales (Bangor; 1994-1997) and then UMIST (1997-1998), I took up a Lectureship at the University of Surrey (1998) and progressed to Senior Lecturer. Having had fruitful times at Surrey, in 2015, I decided to look at other academic opportunities.
In Feb 2016, I was appointed to Senior Lecturer in Chemistry at the University of Central Lancashire and was delighted to be welcomed into a supportive environment. My line manager and Head of School (who incidentally led my interview panel) immediately recognised my skills and potential. Soon after my appointment, he recommended that I attend a leadership course. It was a leadership course specifically for academics of BAME background. I had not encountered this acronym before! When I realised it stood for 'Black Asian and Minority Ethnic', my first thought was 'hmm am I being labelled?' as I was oblivious to any discriminatory issues that the BAME community may have been having in academia. The leadership course was eye opening. One thing that rang true for me is that separate from impact of others around us (such as unconscious bias and micro-aggressions), we are ourselves to a significant extent responsible for the limitations/restrictions that have been imposed on us possibly due to past experiences, which negatively skewed our self-confidence. We must get out of our own way at times if we wish to fulfil our potential!
The Leadership course taught me to reach-out, network and be resilient, which I have been practising more consciously thereafter. This has also given me a perspective on how I can support others. In addition, soon after my appointment, the same inspiring line manager encouraged me to apply for Readership and then Professor based on my strong research record of accomplishment and academic experiences. He helped me to recognise my achievements. I was promoted to Reader in October 2016 and then Professor in January 2018. It is great to be recognised this way by UCLan for my contributions to research and teaching. In between these two promotions, I was also supported when my wife was going to have twins. My line manager directed me to the relevant HR policies for shared parental leave, which both my wife and I fully appreciated as it allowed us the quality time (and the many joint sleepless nights!) to truly gel with the babies and to support each other.
Since my promotion, I have welcomed extra responsibilities including becoming Chair of the School Health and Safety Committee and Member of the School’s Executive Team and Research and Innovation Committee, while still progressing my research and supporting other colleagues in this endeavour. I am also actively contributing to the shaping of Chemistry’s REF submission. All in all, my experience in the short time (just over two years) that I have been at UCLan has been truly supportive and encouraging.
23 May 2018