Category: Support Staff

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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Ji Young Yoon, Mechanical Workshop Technician, Department of Bioengineering 

“Only 12% of women take up engineering roles in the UK, and the number is smaller for mechanical engineering.”

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

The workshop is where I belong. As a Mechanical Workshop Technician, I provide mechanical engineering consultancy, design and manufacture services and support teaching for students and staff. I look after the mechanics labs in the department, produce prototypes for research, perform mechanical testing and provide training for students so they can make projects work. It’s very much a student-facing role. The best part of my job is trying to transfer whatever I know to students. It’s rewarding to see them learning through real experience. 

When I was working in the US in the private sector, I volunteered with school students in the summers introducing them to STEM subjects, and I offered internships for university students with autism to help them prepare for graduation and finding a job. This volunteering experience made me think I might be interested in working in the education sector. 

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Ata Rahman, Digital Marketing Officer, Academic Services

 “So many people still think you can’t be brown and gay”

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

I’m gay and one of the hardest things for me growing up was that I was stuck in a world where both sides of my identity, the Pakistani and the gay sides, don’t tend to like each other. When I came out, I expected backlash from the South Asian community, particularly from the religious Muslim community. What was disappointing and really shocking to me was the amount of racism within the LGBT+ community. 

When I first came out and started going out in Soho in London, I was turned away from many places. This happened for about seven or eight years after I came out when I was 18. I was shocked by the number of people who would come up to me and tell me that I didn’t belong there or who would basically assume that I was there to blow up the club. I would say that there is still a significant amount of prejudice towards people of colour within the LGBT+ community – it’s a serious problem. I know that more and more steps are being taken to tackle it, but I think we still have a long way to go. 

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Dr Michael Paraskos, Evening Class Manager, Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication 

“Adult education is not just about giving the general public a second chance to study, it’s also about exposing Imperial’s own students and staff to new experiences” 

I am the manager for adult education in the Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication at Imperial, and I also teach art history in the Centre. As a manager I select what evening classes we offer and I’m also involved in the promotion and organisation of the classes. As an art historian, I teach everything from medieval architecture to modern art, but my own academic research focuses on twentieth-century British art.  (more…)