“Outside of my role at Imperial, being a school governor has been transformational for me. I got to learn the very different skills of a non-executive director and gained a huge amount from working with a diverse group on strategic planning.”
I first joined Imperial as an undergraduate in 1994 on the Information Systems Engineering course (now called Electronic and Information Engineering), and I’ve been here ever since! As an undergrad I encountered an inspirational lecturer, Peter Cheung, who convinced me to stay as his PhD student (jointly supervised by Wayne Luk), and I’ve never really looked back. I became a lecturer in 2002, and over the last two decades I have had various roles including director of the undergraduate course I took as a student, research group head, and currently I am Associate Dean (Academic Workload) for the Faculty of Engineering.
My role is extremely varied. I spend much of my time inventing new digital electronic circuits and software that make computation fast and energy efficient, together with a fantastic group of PhD students and wonderful collaborators in my department and beyond. I lead an international research effort on energy-efficient machine learning, and work closely with industry on this and other topics. I also have responsibility for academic workload across the Faculty of Engineering, where I am working to help ensure academics have the time to think deeply about their work rather than just chasing their tails! I also teach our undergraduates, and I’m currently looking forward to meeting our new first-year students in the autumn term, when I’ll be teaching them digital electronics.
Outside of my role at Imperial, being a school governor has been transformational for me. I first became a governor about ten years ago, and very soon was elected chair of my son’s primary school board. I got to learn the very different skills of a non-executive director and gained a huge amount from working with a diverse group on strategic planning, as well as learning about management in different sectors by leading the head teacher’s performance management.
I ended up founding a forum to share best practice amongst primary school chairs and was elected to the body making school funding decisions for Essex, where I helped redesign their school funding formula. I then moved to the secondary sector as a governor of a single academy trust, where I discovered some unsustainable governance structures, which I have campaigned to change ever since – see, for example, my blog post analysing the Schools White Paper. Most recently, I was delighted to be asked to join the board of the new Imperial College London Mathematics School – it was great to meet their first cohort of students recently!
I’m fully supportive of the Imperial Values and integrity is the one I’d highlight as being most important to me. It’s sometimes hard to do the right thing, but it’s through standing up and making our voices heard that we seek excellence, for example over staff workload, pay, and health and safety.
This year I’m looking forward to spending time with my students and collaborators. This coming term, I’m taking a few of my students to California to spend some time with my collaborator at UCLA, and I’m very much looking forward to that trip.