Category: Support Staff

Samantha Symmonds, Postgraduate Education Manager, Earth Science and Engineering

Samantha Symmonds

“The most rewarding part of my role is supporting my team to ensure we provide the best service for our students and staff.”

I joined Imperial College of Science & Technology (as it was then known) in 1988 as the Vacation Training Co-ordinator in the Careers Service. At the time I had no real plans to stay, but 34 years later I find myself still at Imperial having enjoyed the many diverse roles I have undertaken.

In 1988 technology was very limited, and I fondly remember the one afternoon slot the Careers Service received each week to access the single Registry computer. It was a very busy afternoon given the other option was to use the typewriter and make many carbon copies!
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Polly Fox, Clinical Project Manager, Department of Infectious Disease

Polly Fox

“It was incredibly rewarding to see our work make a difference.”

I studied BSc Medical Sciences at the University of Exeter which exposed me to a range of disease areas and therapeutics. After graduating, I took a position as a research administrator at Imperial in January 2019, working with the Ageing Epidemiology Unit at Charing Cross Hospital. My manager was very supportive of my career development and ignited my interest in clinical trials and research. I found it very fulfilling to contribute to research that can lead to improved treatments and outcomes for many people.
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Hyunman Shin, e-Access Licensing and Subscriptions Coordinator, Library Services  

“I set up authentication for all the electronic journals, books, and databases so that Imperial members can access them virtually from anywhere.”

I joined Library Services at Imperial in 2004. Thinking about all the years I’ve spent at Imperial, it has been quite a journey professionally and personally. I witnessed how the bookshop in the library turned into a café. I’ve walked around the stacks shelving books relishing the smell of them. I also once served Professor Robert Winston at the issue desk. My time at Library Services has been memorable so far. I remember buying a book costing more than £7,000 and I got involved in challenging the biggest journal publisher. I’ve also helped users located as far as Australia to access library journals. Most importantly, I’ve made friends here. 18 years on, I am still here. 

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Mo Akinseye, Communications Intern, Communications Division

“My experience at Imperial has impacted me positively, both personally and career-wise.”

At the start of the summer, just after finishing my first year of my English and Communications degree at the University of Exeter, I was eager to get into the working world. I wanted to gain first-hand experience of communications, and I feel very lucky to have achieved this in Imperial’s communications team. 

I’ve had a long-standing interest in the broader creative industry for a long time, so I applied to intern with Imperial through Creative Access, an organisation that enables people from communities under-represented in the creative industries to access careers, progress and reach leadership. I came across the job description for the Communications Intern role at Imperial, and was drawn by the variety of media projects that the role offered. I didn’t have much prior knowledge of communications as a career path, so I aimed to find out what this would look like. 

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Elena Virlan, Centre Manager, Postdoc and Fellows Development Centre 

“I have always had a passion for helping people and using my organisational skills to implement new processes.”

I have organised an exciting programme of events and activities for Postdoc Appreciation Week (PAW), which takes place this week. This has been achieved in close collaboration with my colleagues in the PFDC, Postdoc Appreciation Week Committee and several Imperial postdoc reps. This is a great opportunity for the PFDC and Imperial to show their appreciation for the postdocs who make the College a leading research and educational institution. 

Organising events such as PAW gives me a great sense of fulfilment and responsibility and I’m looking forward to developing new initiatives, focusing particularly on wellbeing. 

I have always had a passion for helping people and using my organisational skills to implement new processes. A combination of the two has been visible throughout my career and educational journey so far. I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Event Management and Marketing and a Master’s in Psychology of Mental Health. I decided a career in Higher Education would enable me to combine aspects from both my degrees, so I started by working in Careers, first at the University of Reading, then at Imperial from January 2018. 

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Sheena Cardoso, EDIC Co-ordinator, Human Resources 

“I love how flexible my role is – every day brings a new challenge which I am always ready to tackle”

I joined Imperial in 2015, fresh out of university with a degree in Advertising Management and Marketing. I started as a temp and worked in several teams in the College, including the undergraduate office in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the People and Organisational Development team. I learned how different departments operated and how the College worked. This helped me in my next role, in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Centre 

I joined the EDI Centre as a temp and then became a full-time member of staff in 2017. I’m currently a coordinator for the team and look after our communications and social media channels, training administration, and any EDI project coordination. I also organise events and support and coordinate our EDI volunteers.  

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Sonata Petrauskaite, Soft Services Administrator, Estates

“The pandemic helped us to realise that it’s better to recycle, reuse or giveaway as we need to take care of our society”

The Soft Services team is responsible for all the waste recycling, minor removals, chemical and hazardous waste at the College. I joined the team four years ago, having originally joined Imperial 14 years ago.  

Before this role, I worked as a Senior Waitress with the Events and Conference department for ten years. After working as a maternity cover in the Soft Services team, I felt I was ready for a move to the team. It was daunting, but I trusted myself to take on a new challenge in a different environment.  

My role involves making our Imperial staff, students, and visitors aware of the right recycling procedures to maintain a healthier and safer environment. As a team, we deal with any incoming requests, as well as reporting issues, finding a solution to problems – we are Imperial’s little soldiers! We patrol between campuses, ensuring a safe working and studying environment is in place.  

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Sophia Quazi, EDI Coordinator, Mechanical Engineering 

“I always knew I wanted a career that helped people.”

My educational and career journey hasn’t been the most straightforward trajectory. When I was a kid, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I responded with cartoonist or marine biologist, quite like my idol Stephen Hillenburg who created SpongeBob SquarePants and was both. I didn’t really know that equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) or diversity and inclusion (D&I) was something that I could work in. However, I always knew I wanted a career that helped people. It all clicked for me when I selected Sociology as one of my A-Levels.  

My interest in social sciences grew and I studied criminology at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, earning a Master’s degree. My specific focus was eradicating violence against women and victimology. Both of my dissertations were focused on sexual violence on university campuses, and this was something I wanted to pursue career-wise.  

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Adriana Lobosco, Laboratory Technician Apprentice, Department of Bioengineering

“I have always had great admiration for women in STEM careers and now I am in that position myself”

My first dream job was to be a vet – this was quickly vetoed after my sister told me where my hands would end up! After I finished my A-Levels, I spent some time working in retail as a visual merchandiser and then working in the food industry helping to develop new food-to-go products. After realising that I wasn’t enjoying my job, I left in search of a science-based role.  

Apprenticeships have always appealed to me because I like the hybrid approach of learning and working. Before I came across this apprenticeship, I didn’t think it was possible for me to access a role like this without a degree.  

As an apprentice bioengineering technician, my role is varied, and every day is different. I am constantly learning new things and putting them into practice. 

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Harbhajan Singh Brar, Director of Human Resources 

Part of Shifting the Lens: A celebration of cultural diversity at Imperial 

“My parents really instilled a lot of pride in me growing up as a Sikh.”

When I was growing up, the racist murder of Gurdip Chagga and the killing of Blair Peach during the Southall riots in 1979 had a huge impact on me. This led me to become quite politicised and influenced me to study politics and international relations at university. I then also went on to do a postgraduate diploma in ethnic relations as I wanted to understand what more I could do to make things better for ethnic minority communities.  

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