Tell us a bit about your career path to date
It was a long road. I've probably got a decade on most people in my sort of role. I'm also a published novelist with an MA in Creative Writing so, after some bizarre jobs (including bingo caller, fish monger and paintball operative) I mostly did part time administration work to facilitate my out-of-hours writing. After working for the Education Team at the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) for a few years, an opportunity came up in the Communications Team so I went for it. Luckily, the Institute had already given me the opportunity to prove a few of the skills I needed by volunteering for extra tasks - writing education articles in the monthly magazine and proofreading guidance documents and training portfolios.
Doing writing and design work every day is a much better match for my skillset so I get a lot more out of my work now, and the IBMS gets a lot more out of me.
What does the Institute of Biomedical Science do?
The IBMS is a professional body for Biomedical Scientists and laboratory staff who work in the UK, mostly in the NHS - though the membership expands across the world and into the private and veterinary sectors too. It oversees the registration training and laboratory accreditation of HCPC registered Biomedical Scientists, develops qualifications for career progression, provides a public voice for the profession and offers other services relevant to members.
What does a day in your working life look like?
It varies a lot. The only thing that is the same is that we probably don't quite know what we're going to put out on social media. So, we'll sweep the health news, anything our members have done, whether any projects are near completion and input these into the weekly plan and see what comes out on top. We have to keep things fairly loose so that we are free to be reactive if bigger things have come up overnight. Social media usually means I'm designing an image in Photoshop at some point in the day, and working on messaging to go with it, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. I spend a lot of time maintaining my network of contacts and keeping projects ongoing so that we have a valuable stream of content and stories coming in. Then there is the more official work - proofreading and editing position statements, guidance documents and news stories. It might be a day of maintaining the website, or preparing a newsletter. We've have some more creative campaigns lately that have included script writing and activity planning. Then there are events to help organise and promote. It's a small team with big ideas so you have to be a jack of all trades.
What is your career highlight to date?
This year has been a highlight in itself. It's been a privilege to be representing the laboratory staff doing the COVID-19 tests. We've used our network of 20,000 scientists to pool information through our specialist panels and Council regarding the science of COVID-19 testing and the current state of COVID-19 testing across the UK. We used this information to create a steady stream of accurate and accessible press releases, an easy-to-understand animated video, daily social media updates and frequent media appearances from the IBMS President and other key members.
Our timely press release, the day after Matt Hancock’s promise to deliver 100,000 tests by the end of April, explained the current capacity for testing in the UK, the restrictions due to resources, outlined the issues with antibody tests, presented the process of a single PCR test in an easy to understand way and clarified that the biomedical science profession was ready to help tackle the pandemic – but only if the profession was given the correct supplies. It made a big splash - making the front page of the Guardian and being raised at that evening's Daily Briefing. It was exciting to be part of it.
What does winning this memcom award mean to you?
It's great to win an award for my efforts because it means I'm doing my job well. The members deserve somebody who is doing a good job for them.
What advice would you give anyone considering a career in communications within the membership sector?
I'd say think about who you're representing and whether you want to get behind them. My job is made easy because I want to champion the scientists in healthcare and I never have to write a false soundbite. It's great to be able to use your intelligence, creativity and empathy to create content and messaging that supports a force for good in the world.
memcom recruitment are specialist recruiters for the professional membership sector. If you're interested in finding out how we can help you find your next role, or would like us to help you recruit a new member for your team, contact [email protected]