Technical Services aims to be a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone can feel a sense of belonging, fulfil their full potential and be valued and respected for who they are. A diverse and inclusive environment is one where you are confident that you can bring your whole self to work and be treated equally with your peers where differences are acknowledged and welcomed. These differences could be visible like gender, race, age, a visible disability; but also, less visible traits such as sexual orientation, personality type, some types of disabilities and neurodiversity, socio-economic background and education. We strive to include everyone in our workforce and ensure that all team members can experience equality of opportunity.
Team member stories
Mark McClemont - Senior Technician.
I have been at Reading since 1987; I started out as a Lab Technician and in the early '90s I got the opportunity to become a glassblower. I'm the only glassblower on campus. I design, make, modify and repair scientific laboratory glassware for both teaching and research for the School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy and other University departments, as well as outside companies. It's particularly satisfying to make a custom piece of glassware for researchers and get involved in the design process, which can involve multiple iterations to achieve a successful result.
My time is shared between glassblowing as part of the Operations Infrastructure team and the Cluster 1 Chemistry team where I am primarily involved with providing technical support for undergraduate teaching laboratory classes.
I've got a very friendly working environment. Diversity and inclusion is something the University wholeheartedly embraces, which is great and is something I try to contribute to. I am involved with the Technical Services Diversity & Inclusion Working Group and was part of the Athena Swan self-assessment team which was successful in achieving a Silver award for Technical Services. I am a member of the LGBT+ Staff network and have helped with the University's stall at Reading Pride. As part of the University's Wellbeing Peer Support network, I am an Adult Mental Health First Aider and one of the Wellbeing Peer Support volunteers.
I am asexual and have been involved in visibility work for AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network), of which I'm a member. This has involved TV and radio appearances and contributing to newspaper and magazine articles. When the University was applying to become a Stonewall Diversity Champion, I went to meetings to raise awareness of the asexual community. This resulted in the Staff and RUSU LGBT Plus organisations holding an Asexual Awareness Week, to which I was happy to contribute. Asexual people are thought to make up about 1% of the population, which means there could be somewhere between 30 and 40 asexual people working at the University, even more in the student population. I think it's important there's visibility for asexual people, and those who think they may be asexual, in particular, to have someone to talk to who is asexual.
Paul Baker - Technical Manager.
I first joined the University in 2012 as a trainee technician in the School of Biological Sciences. Now a Senior Technician, I provide teaching support as well as indirect research support. There's a huge variety of work: prepping equipment and solutions, showing students how to use equipment and demonstrating techniques during term time, and assisting with the maintenance of research labs throughout the year.
I like the variety within the School of Biological Sciences, as well as the people I work with. If you're part of a good team - and I certainly am - it means you've got a great place to work.
One of the things I really enjoy about Reading is the flexibility. For example, over the summer months I take advantage of flexible working hours - called compressed hours - so I work from 8:00 until 6:00, four days a week during the summer, and that's something I really appreciate.
I'm also supported in continuing my professional development, and recently I received a Science Council CPD (Continuing Professional Development) Award because of my training and development achievements. I think if there's something you're interested in doing - and it's relevant to your role - you should flag it, because there's no harm in asking.
Natalie Franklin - Studio Support Technician.
I'm a studio support technician in Technical Services and I support the Institute of Education. I've been at the University since the end of 2017, and I am very proud of my achievements since then. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and chronic pain issues and, whilst getting a job is often not a problem for me, it can be hard to remain in employment.
Prior to working at the university, I had a number of roles in retail and hospitality. I graduated from Plymouth College of Art in 2015 with a BA(Hons) in Contemporary Craft, specialising in kiln cast glass. I am still a practicing artist, something that is very much encouraged within the department. Working as a technician supporting the Institute of Education is great. I work alongside lecturers in a very collegiate way to inspire, support and guide the students with their artwork. Seeing the end exhibitions is one of my favourite part of the job- they never fail to impress me with their professional and skilled work. Despite having worked in a popular DIY chain for a few years, I have learned more practical DIY skills helping students to set up exhibitions than I did in said shop!
The facilities are great, and I’ve managed to up-skill myself in several areas such as printmaking and darkroom photography. The support I have received from my line manager and the policies surrounding disabled staff at the university have made it possible for me to stay working in a job I love- and this is now the longest I have been employed at one place! Feeling comfortable sharing medical details and knowing that I won’t be judged or penalised for my disabilities is really empowering.
I feel that working at the university has encouraged me to grow and eventually seek further education in an MA- all of which has been supported by colleagues and my manager. I’ve had the opportunity to undertake many training courses, including, but not limited to the Springboard Women’s Development Program, several programs of Teaching Skills for Technicians and many programs to support students with mental health issues or disabilities at the university. I have also achieved two types of professional registration, one with the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) and one with the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Both of these show my dedication to my role and were really good reflective tools to help me recognise my skills and were funded and supported by the university.
All my friends tell me this is the perfect job for me, and I definitely feel I am on a solid career path where I can use my degree and life experiences to help others pursue their dream career as an art teacher- and pursue a few of my own dreams at the same time!
Wayne Knight - Senior Technician
Shared Parental Leave enables eligible parents to choose how to share the care of their child during the first year of birth or adoption. Its purpose is to give parents more flexibility in considering how to best care for and bond with their child.
My Time on Shared Parental Leave:
"I am a senior technician in Technical Services supporting the School of Biological Sciences. I started my shared parental leave in March 2018 and was excited for some time at home and with high hopes of finding lots of activities to do. However I quickly discovered when it started that I did not know quite what to do with myself and what to do with my new daughter, Holly. For the first week I stayed at home, doing some small walks, feeling on edge and waiting for my wife to come home just to help and have someone to talk to, as a 6 month old baby does not have much to say! I spoke to a friend at work and she gives me a 5 step plan to make sure I got out and about. Soon I was going to baby sensory club and baby soft-play which give me the opportunity to talk to people who are in the same situation as myself. Despite the adjustment period, I soon settled into my new role. I did notice there were very few dads taking up shared parental leave, which seemed strange to me as it is an opportunity for fathers to spend valuable quality time with their children. I would highly recommend more dads to take advantage of SPL because the time I had off with Holly was so special to me and I will remember it for the rest of my life.
All I can say is don't knock it until you try it."
Alice Tordoff - Trainee Technician
I originally joined Technical Services in the Chemistry Stores around September 2019 and worked there for a year before I saw there was an opening in Technical Services in the Film, Theatre and Television (FTT) Department. I applied to change roles because my background was in Film & Theatre and I have a deep love of Media. It felt amazing when I got the position as a Trainee Support Technician because it meant I was back working in an area which I always wanted to be in. Technical Services were incredibly supportive of my change in roels which made the transition so much easier, especially as it happened in 2020 when the pandemic was happening. Since transferring to FTT, I've been able to get further training in things like lighting and editing so that I can better help teaching our students throughout their time here, and I'm very grateful for all the encouragement to continue to improve.
As a Neurodivergent (ADHD) individual it's wonderful to work in a place so understanding and considerate of my needs and difficulties.
I’m part of the University LGBT+ Network, which is great for meeting other people in the university’s LGBT+ community who are like me. For shorthand I’d describe myself as Queer and on the Asexual Spectrum. The longer version is I am Pansexual/Gray-Asexual, Demi-romantic & Polyamorous. In 2022 I was part of the Technical Services Self-Assessment team for our successful Athena Swan application.
Hong Lin - Senior Technician
I joined Reading in September 1999, as a research technician in the neuroscience research group. Then I took up a permanent position, to manage a lab in 2005. This was extended to a floor coordinator role when we moved to the new Hopkins building in 2008. In this role I am responsible for the day to day running of a research floor that is shared by biologists and pharmacologists.
As well as supporting research, I give lab inductions to staff and students before they start on their research projects, and I am the first point of contact when problems arise with the laboratory facilities or equipment, and also coordinate the annual services of the building and research facilities with our Technical Services Operations team and external engineers. Whilst managing the lab, I am still part of the research team(s) carrying out research activities, performing projects for collaborators; finishing off experiments for publications and doing some preliminary studies for grant applications.
Two high profile projects recently included a Llama immunisation project and development of a cannabis derived medicine that is now used as an anti-epileptic drug. It was a great surprise, to be nominated by Karen, our Director of Technical Services, to the 2022 THE award ‘Outstanding Technician of the Year’. I was shortlisted, invited to the ceremony in London and went on to win the award in the end! I never imagined or expected this to happen. I feel so happy that my work has been recognised.
I always enjoy working with colleagues in Technical service as well as the academic staff. We work as a team, and support each other.
Bilge Yerdelen - Health and Safety Co-ordinator
I joined the University in March 2023 as a Health and Safety Coordinator in Technical Services, and I am supporting the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development and School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences. I have been working as a Safety Professional for over 13 years and gained diverse experience in various industries such as FMCG, logistics, IT and higher education.In 2017, I visited from Turkey and collaborated with Imperial London College and University of York under the Erasmus Program. This inspiring opportunity allowed me to broaden my perspective, obtain international experience and intercultural exchange. From then on, my aspiration was to work at a University in the UK.
In 2022, I saw a Technical Services Health and Safety Co-ordinator role advertised and I felt that this job was a perfect match for me in terms of my background, qualifications and expectations. I carried out some research about the University and Technical Services. I was impressed by the University's rich history and beautiful campus. I could see that a great adventure was waiting for me and my family, so I gathered up my courage and applied, and was accepted, for the job in November 2022. With the support of my family, I was able to make the decision to start a new life and career. So, my journey at Reading began in March 2023.
From day one, my teammates and other colleagues in Technical Services have been welcoming and warm towards me. They were, and are, very helpful in work and daily life related matters. I think it is a great opportunity for me to work with a large and expert team. My manager, who empathised with me, supported me to have a smooth transition.
Now, I am almost settled in my home and workplace. My working environment, which is in harmony with nature, couldn't be better. I recharge every time I walk across the campus. I look forward to continuing to work together with my colleagues in Technical Services. I feel so grateful and happy in an inclusive and supportive environment.
Andrew Cripps - Technical Head
Since my second child was born, I have used a compressed hours arrangement to spend more time during the week with my children. This has meant that I am free on Mondays to take care of my children and be far more involved in their school and other activities. With my third child being born in October 2022, I was pleased to be able to take four weeks childbirth support leave, and make the most of this opportunity in those early crucial weeks.
Matt Watt - Trainee Electrical Technician
Hi, I'm Matt Watt. I work in the Operations Department as a Trainee Electrical Technician. Previously, I spent four years working in the Grounds Maintenance Department as a gardener. However, I decided to pursue a career change and applied for a job in the Merchant Navy. While I enjoyed the training, I realised that the environment wasn’t for me. Consequently, in February, I made the difficult decision to leave with a heavy heart and started considering going back to college. During my search, I came across an apprentice electrical technician position advertised on the university's website and promptly applied for the job. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to receive hands-on training from highly experienced members of the Operations team. Additionally, I will begin college in September to work towards obtaining my national qualification.
Athena Swan Silver Award
Technical Services has become the first professional services team in the country to gain a national charter mark for its commitment to gender equality. The team was awarded a Silver Athena Swan mark by Advance HE in March 2023 after professional services were made eligible for recognition in 2022. Achieving Silver represents a high level of engagement and progress in reducing the barriers to gender equality, including consideration, for Technical Services, of how gender equality intersects with race.
You can read more on the University website here: Silver gender equality award for Technical Services - University of Reading
Or on the Advance HE website here: First technical directorate awarded Athena Swan | Advance HE (advance-he.ac.uk)
Athena Swan Charter | Advance HE