SYNLAB UK & Ireland:

International Women’s Day

Published: 8th March 2022

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are delighted to unveil a series of short interviews featuring some of the many inspirational female colleagues who work with us.

Angela Hussey

PA to Dr P J Monaghan, The Christie Pathology Partnership

1. Why do you do what you do – what is the most rewarding part of your job?
I enjoy working in a patient-focused setting and being able to contribute to patient care.

2. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, seeking to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome as a woman in your career?
Balancing career and parental duties has been the most challenging part of my working life. Many years ago, I faced some discrimination in a previous post. I did not feel able to speak to anyone at the time, but I would encourage others to confide in a colleague should they experience something similar.

3. How can SYNLAB and the wider world work to help young women pursue careers in scientific organisations and male-associated roles?
They can set up information workshops and encourage staff awareness across all disciplines. Employers should be mindful of non-clinical staff progression as this is an area that is often neglected.

4. One of International Women’s Day’s core objectives is to celebrate and amplify women’s achievements. What is one of your greatest professional and/or personal achievements?
Progressing to Practice Manager in General Practice while employed as a Medical Secretary; working full-time and studying at college to achieve my goals. I took up post at my first practice in my late 20s. My role included managing staff, staff recruitment and training, attending practice meetings, and liaising with service providers, among many other things. After leaving General Practice, I went on to PA roles for the Deputy General Secretary of the largest trade union in the country and for a professional football club.

5. Which powerful women inspire you and why?
I admire women who have worked hard, often through adversity, to progress their career.

6. What’s an important message you would send out to young girls and women thinking about their futures?
I feel anyone can achieve their dream role if they are prepared to study, learn as much a possible from work colleagues, be enthusiastic in the workplace, and treat service users and colleagues with respect.

Angharad John

Senior Reporting Scientist, Lextox

1. Why do you do what you do – what is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that the work I do makes a difference.

2. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, seeking to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome as a woman in your career?
Early on in my career I was directly affected by pay discrimination as a woman, so one challenge I’d say I’ve faced is proving I’m worth as much as a man in the same role.
Another challenge I faced was following the birth of my first child and feeling that it was perceived that I could not be as dedicated to my job as a working mother.

3. How can SYNLAB and the wider world work to help young women pursue careers in scientific organisations and male-associated roles?
By removing the perception that certain roles are not suitable for women, giving support to women to pursue roles perceived to be more for males, and by treating women fairly.

4. One of International Women’s Day’s core objectives is to celebrate and amplify women’s achievements. What is one of your greatest professional and/or personal achievements?
My greatest professional achievement was representing SYNLAB (Lextox) as an intervenor in a High Court case involving the credibility of hair testing. My greatest personal achievement was gaining my post graduate qualification while working full time and being a mother to a toddler.

5. Which powerful women inspire you and why?
Any woman that has managed to reach the pinnacle in a male-dominated role, such as Sirimavo Bandaranaike who was the first woman to be prime minister of a country. And my mother, who showed me that women can have a career.

6. What’s an important message you would send out to young girls and women thinking about their futures?
Don’t ever think you can’t do something or can’t follow a certain career path because you’re a woman.

Becky Wilks

Medical Laboratory Assistant, The Christie Pathology Partnership

1. Why do you do what you do – what is the most rewarding part of your job?
I do my job because I enjoy working as part of a team that works daily to treat patients and potentially improve quality of life. The most rewarding part is knowing that we are potentially helping someone at the end of it all.

2. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, seeking to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome as a woman in your career?
I have been very fortunate as I don’t believe I have experienced any challenges which are solely due to my gender.

3. How can SYNLAB and the wider world work to help young women pursue careers in scientific organisations and male-associated roles?
Promote the work of women in scientific fields and give them the platform to be seen. Visual representation is the most important as it helps to reach people who identify as female when they are children.

4. One of International Women’s Day’s core objectives is to celebrate and amplify women’s achievements. What is one of your greatest professional and/or personal achievements?
My greatest professional and personal achievement is that I am currently studying with the Open University to complete a history degree, while also continuing to work alongside it. As my degree of choice is not work-related, I am studying in my own time and purely out of personal interest. It has presented many challenges, but I enjoy being able to do something I’m passionate about.

5. Which powerful women inspire you and why?
Many powerful women inspire me! Women such as Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle are incredibly inspiring. They are both on the most public of stages and it would be easy for them to shy away into the shadow of their husbands. Instead, they work alongside their spouses to make a better future for everyone, women included.
Stacey Dooley uses her compassion and gentle way of understanding to create gripping documentaries that highlight the stories of those unseen by mainstream media, especially women around the world who are often forgotten or ignored.
My mum is the woman who inspires me the most. She raised me to be an independent and caring person in her image and continues to amaze me every day with her strength and compassion. No matter what life throws at her she continues to push onwards and for that, she is my greatest inspiration.

6. What’s an important message you would send out to young girls and women thinking about their futures?
You are capable of so many things and you don’t need to have it all figured out. Life isn’t about following a plan or knowing where you will be ten years from now, but about living and feeling.

Sarah Evans

HR Manager, The Christie Pathology Partnership

1. Why do you do what you do – what is the most rewarding part of your job?
I always knew that I wanted to work in a role that involved a lot of interaction with others, and HR fulfils that desire for me. I most enjoy providing support across all areas of the business and I find it rewarding to facilitate the sharing of ideas and good practice across departments.

2. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, seeking to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome as a woman in your career?
Being able to inspire trust and confidence in managers is an important part of my job. In some of my previous roles I have encountered challenging male stakeholders and at times it has taken significant patience and persistence to build credibility so I can operate in an effective way.

3. How can SYNLAB and the wider world work to help young women pursue careers in scientific organisations and male-associated roles?
Building strong relationships between education establishments and business is vital. For young women who are at the point of making career decisions, providing exposure to female role models who are succeeding in environments that have traditionally been viewed as inaccessible to women is important.

4. One of International Women’s Day’s core objectives is to celebrate and amplify women’s achievements. What is one of your greatest professional and/or personal achievements?
It is easy to be overlooked for career opportunities as a woman and I am proud that I have been able to operate in many different business environments through my career to date. This has included some strongly male dominated environments such as manufacturing and corporate law.

5. Which powerful women inspire you and why?
Too many to mention! I admire women who achieve career success in male-dominated environments but are still able to maintain a strong feminine identity, like Jacinda Arden and Karren Brady. I also find women like Frances Haugen and Malala Yousafzai who speak out publicly in the face of significant personal risk hugely inspiring.

6. What’s an important message you would send out to young girls and women thinking about their futures?
Have confidence in your own ability and trust your instincts. There is a risk that societal influence will persuade you onto a career path that is not what you really want to do. If you have a strong interest in a career that seems unachievable because of your gender, don’t be discouraged – be persistent.

Sasha Belle

Medical Examiner Officer, The Christie Pathology Partnership

1. Why do you do what you do – what is the most rewarding part of your job?

Part of our service is to provide bereaved families with an accurate medical certificate of cause of death and a means to discuss concerns with care. We liaise with them on a daily basis, and I make it a priority to keep them updated and explain causes of death and medical terminology in layman’s terms if needed. Alleviating some of their anxiety by maintaining regular contact brings a sense of satisfaction to me.
Being a part of the research in posthumous retrieval of cancer tissue is very humbling and gives me an opportunity to practise specialist skills that I may not otherwise be trained to undertake. Having a great team on this research project has been rewarding and allowed me to flourish under their tutelage.

2. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, seeking to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome as a woman in your career?
Some difficult barriers to overcome are the gender stereotype comments said in passing. To highlight, remarks made in relation to a woman’s career progression, references such as ‘you’re young enough yet to start having children’ or similar. Many women choose not to have children and, more sensitively still, some cannot have children. We should recognise that career progression doesn’t stop when a woman has a family and comments along these lines create pressure to conform to gender stereotypes.

3. How can SYNLAB and the wider world work to help young women pursue careers in scientific organisations and male-associated roles?
Possibilities could be increasing female representatives at school and university career events. Hosting free ‘women in science’ discussions and networking groups online. Link up with women’s support networks in the local communities. Create more part-time or job share roles; these would create opportunities for those in carer roles or with younger children.

4. One of International Women’s Day’s core objectives is to celebrate and amplify women’s achievements. What is one of your greatest professional and/or personal achievements?
My most recent achievement is the successful completion of the RSPH Level 3 Diploma in Anatomical Pathology Technology. This course teaches the necessary skills for a technician to undertake safe post-mortem procedures. I relish the opportunity to pass my knowledge on to others who have an interest in this profession. I hope my future efforts inspire progress and respect in the field of anatomical pathology.

5. Which powerful women inspire you and why?
From my school years the story of Rosa Parks has always stuck with me. A powerful message about standing (or sitting!) for that which is important; respect, equality and diversity. I take from her story that it is through consistent effort, education, and courage that true power lies.
The next inspiration may not be a conventionally a powerful woman, but her legacy is – Henrietta Lacks was an African-American woman whose cervical cancer cells were taken without her knowledge or consent. These became known as the HeLa cell line which led to medical breakthroughs. The story reminds me of the importance of consent, ethical practice and the trust which is placed in the medical services. It is my responsibility to ensure I maintain these core values.

6. What’s an important message you would send out to young girls and women thinking about their futures?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to those in professions you are interested in. Those in the field will be the best source of knowledge for any questions you may have. I believe it is incredibly important to find out what it is you’ll enjoy, as opposed to pursuing other people’s expectations. Take any opportunity to learn something new, there are hundreds of free courses out there. Finally, always take some time out for yourself.

Susie Nee

Business Development Executive, SYNLAB VPG

1. Why do you do what you do – what is the most rewarding part of your job?
Helping the animals has always been at the core of everything I do, so it’s only fitting that I chose a job focused on animal-centricity. I believe that SYNLAB VPG offers a unique and bespoke service for the animals and the veterinary team.

2. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias, seeking to create a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. What is a challenge you’ve faced and overcome as a woman in your career?
Because I am a bubbly and outgoing person, I have not been taken seriously in the past. I’ve had to adapt my personality in order to be heard, as I have previously had ideas dismissed.

3. How can SYNLAB and the wider world work to help young women pursue careers in scientific organisations and male-associated roles?
Outreach to schools and the community, explaining the variety of available science roles, as well as talking to students taking science subjects in school.

4. One of International Women’s Day’s core objectives is to celebrate and amplify women’s achievements. What is one of your greatest professional and/or personal achievements?

Professionally, I set up my own limited company in 2020 – I was a locum vet nurse at a variety of veterinary practices/hospitals. This gave me a huge feeling of accomplishment and allowed me to be very flexible, as I was my own boss.
Recently I looked into diversifying into a non-clinical role for several reasons. I wanted to challenge myself and try something new while still using my transferable skills. I do struggle with chronic health issues such as fibromyalgia/ME/IBD/autoimmune issues, so this can be difficult to manage in a clinical environment. There is a lot of work to be done on chronic illness awareness, and it is something I am very passionate about. I was determined to research other options, and found this role via the Vets; Stay, Go or Diversify Facebook page.
Personally, one of my biggest achievements is travelling to South Africa, to volunteer with animals such as lions, zebra, giraffes, and many others. It was daunting travelling so far away and not knowing anyone, yet it was one of the most educational trips of my life.

5. Which powerful women inspire you and why?
Dr Jane Galton BSc Zoology, PhD Immunology, MBA and research scientist. Dr Jane is the co-chair of The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF UK). I first met Dr Jane in 2018 when I became a volunteer for CCF. She is incredibly inspirational and her passion is palpable, all while being genuine and down to earth. The cheetahs are very lucky to have Dr Jane looking out for them.

6. What’s an important message you would send out to young girls and women thinking about their futures?
Follow what you feel passionate about, be brave, and speak out. Be aware that there are many ways into your chosen field, do work experience, and ask all the questions.

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