Commitment to staff wellbeing: spinal health

We know the importance of positively supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of all Scitech staff and contractors. Our wellbeing strategy is key to fostering a supportive environment across our teams.

As part of our wellbeing activities, we recently partnered with Halsa Chiropractic & Physiotherapy practice to offer a talk on spinal health at Scitech House, our head office in Godalming. Colleagues were invited to book a posture assessment – analysing back health, top to toe posture and alignments at key points of the body using a spinal analysis machine.

The talk focussed on stress and the nervous system, the spine and posture – with tips and guidance for spinal health and wellbeing. Dr David Mutombo explained how the spine connects with every function and organ in the human body and, as a result, plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy nervous system.

Emma Dawas, HR Manager at Scitech, said: “Dr Mutombo gave a fascinating talk, which was very interactive and was very well received by everyone who attended. I think we can all benefit from his advice and tips for a healthy spine and nervous system.

Scitech’s wellbeing strategy builds upon all the required regulatory health & safety and environmental requirements to provide a holistic approach to staff wellbeing. It is designed to support a range of life’s challenges both inside and outside the workplace and part of this approach include events, webinars and training that are of benefit to all colleagues.

Women in the workplace: why we launched our Women at Scitech group

Back in 2020, as the first COVID lockdown was announced, one of our Directors and his mentee were having a catch-up. At that time, she was the only female in our Cardiff office and we were aware the COVID pandemic had the potential to heighten the feeling of remoteness. During the mentoring session, it was recognised that this female engineer, who was a working mother, didn’t have the means to easily connect with others so the idea for a virtual women’s group emerged.

The idea was initially as a means to put our virtual arms around our colleague and bring her into the wider Scitech family but, when launched, the virtual group had evolved to become a support group that could unite all of Scitech’s female workforce and empower them to share experiences and ideas while provide support for each other.

Nurturing our female talent

Two years later, the group is an established feature in the Scitech events calendar with meetings held every quarter. Its purpose is to nurture our female talent, ensure that they are supported to pursue leadership roles, if that is the path they wish their career to take, and make sure that their unique health and well-being needs are met. It also offers an opportunity to get together to build friendships – meetings are now face-to-face with those who can’t be there in person also able to join virtually.

The group has tackled subjects such as how we ensure our female staff have access to women’s toilets on our construction sites and making sure there is appropriate clothing for women. Topics are varied and include women’s health, menopause, attracting women to engineering and construction careers, improving working life for women, unconscious bias in the workplace and gender bias in recruitment. This has resulted in positive changes to some of our family orientated polices and greater appreciation of what women might be looking for when applying for roles at Scitech.

Inspirational guest speakers

The latest meeting, held in December, featured a guest speaker. Natasha Westbury, a senior leader at HP, who was invited to share her experiences of working in the IT and telecommunications sectors – both of which are male orientated. She shared how she has benefitted from being part of a women’s network, and how it helped her to achieve success and provided support during the past 8 years working in senior roles.

Natasha shared how it was important to her that she selected an employer that had stated its ambition to gender parity; HP became the first Fortune 100 Tech company to commit to Gender Parity in Leadership in May 2021. Currently more than 30% of HP’s leaders are women (which is nearly double the industry’s benchmark). Natasha adds that her career hasn’t always been easy being female and juggling the demands of working in these environments.

Speaking at the Women at Scitech meeting, Natasha said: “I am proud to say that, in 2022, I work for a company that openly understands that business performance improves when we attract, retain, and develop women. We still have a way to go to facilitate gender inclusion to ensure equal opportunity in the workplace, which is why I am passionate about contributing to discussion of these issues”.

Natasha believes that encouraging and supporting women to pursue their career goals and leadership aspirations in a community enables change, and is a responsibility that everyone should uphold.

Emma Dawas, HR Manager at Scitech, said: “We would like to thank Natasha for generously giving her time to share her experiences and provide such an inspirational talk to our staff. We are proud to have several women on our leadership board at Scitech and hope to further increase this as we support our female staff to progress and reach senior roles.

“Through our Women at Scitech group, and our wider diversity and inclusion work, we will continue to support and nurture our female staff. We look forward to inviting other female role models to share their experience and further build the network for our staff.”

Spotlight on Jack O’Toole, Mechanical Equipment Engineer

When Jack O’Toole began his BSc Industrial Product Design course at Aston University, in Birmingham, he didn’t envisage a career with a specialist design and construction company operating in the pharmaceutical or life science sectors. But seven years on, he wouldn’t want to work in any other sector.

“I always saw myself being part of a design and engineering group but I didn’t plan on niching into this area,” he explains. “It just didn’t occur to me at that point but I’m pleased it’s the path I have followed.”

The value of student placements

Jack’s first insight into pharmaceutical manufacturing came when he secured a three-month placement with Scitech during a summer breaks from university. This saw him work under the mentorship of Lewis White, Scitech’s Mechanical Engineering Team Leader.

“I was given the opportunity to support the team with some site-based work, which was a fantastic experience. One stand-out project for me was supporting Guys’ and St Thomas’ Hospital with the development of a radiopharmacy and installation of ‘hot cell’ lines for handling diagnostic radio-isotopes. I was able to oversee the specialist equipment contractor to solve equipment issues. I must have done a good job as I was offered a permanent role to start at the end of my degree.”

Masters degree sponsorship

Jack returned to Scitech as a Graduate Mechanical Engineer and received sponsorship to complete his MSc Mechanical Engineering. “I knew I wanted to complete a Masters degree and was really fortunate that Scitech provided funding and supported me by ensuring that I had adequate study time.

“Scitech is fantastic at supporting its staff with training, whether it is through official courses, CPD opportunities or mentorship. I am now working towards achieving Chartership with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, which Lewis is supporting me to achieve.”

Career development opportunities

Jack adds: “Scitech is very good at ensuring that you can gain experience in other areas too. For example, I have mentoring once a week with the head of mechatronics. I have gained more skills through this and have been able to help with a project on site. That is further experience that I have gained. All I needed to do was ask and it was arranged.”

Looking at his career to date, Jack reflects on the opportunities that Scitech has provided and the projects that have taken him across Europe and to the United States of America.

“One of the attractive aspects of this role is that there is always a challenge. I have worked on a lot of radiopharmaceutical and cell & gene therapy projects, as these are areas where Scitech has significant expertise. With radiopharma you must understand and consider many different aspects – it’s not just process and physics. It covers every aspect from the safety of the operator, to the efficiency of the line, to the ergonomics affecting the workforce. Different companies and organisations have different requirements and challenges and so it always keeps it interesting.”

Promotion and career progression

Jack is now enjoying working as a project lead on a cell and gene therapy project, taking on more responsibility, and looking forward to leading on bigger and more complex projects as his career progresses.

“I feel lucky that I secured my initial internship with Scitech. It has set me off on a really interesting career path and I have been offered lots of opportunities that have allowed me to progress. The team is very supportive and so I know they are there if I need help or advice. It provides a safety net but at the same time provides the opportunity to show what you can do and progress. I would definitely urge anyone who is specialising in mechanical engineering to consider a career in this sector; it is really exciting and provides a lot of opportunities.”

● Discover what Mechanical Equipment Engineering career opportunities and job vacancies are available at Scitech.