May Newsletter Introduction

On behalf of the Steering Group, I would like to welcome you to the inaugural newsletter for Technical Excellence at Manchester (TEaM)!

TEaM is a cross-Faculty network, created by technical staff for technical staff, and is open to all staff members with a technical role.  It has been estimated that across the University, there are likely to be more than 600 members of staff with technical roles that cover a diverse range of skills, specialisms and job titles; based on the responses to the pre-TEaM launch questionnaire, which was completed by 298 people, over 55 different job titles were associated with technical roles.

 Since its launch in December 2016, 256 people have now subscribed to the TEaM email distribution list**, we have had 3 workplace tours, including the ‘Biological Services Facility’ (BSF), the Whitworth Art Gallery and the Manchester Museum, which have all been extremely popular and we have had the first of our networking/coffee morning events, which was attended by over 80 staff. To quote Michele Jennae*, “Networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities…. Networking means the act of exchanging information with people who can help you professionally.”   To this end, the newsletter will support the TEaM mission statement,

To raise the profile of technical staff, recognise their contribution to the University and empower them to develop their careers’ .

 TEaM will provide technical staff with the opportunity to learn about training and development opportunities on and off-campus, share experiences and knowledge and promote career pathways and career opportunities.

To fully achieve this, we need you to help shape the future of this exciting initiative. Maybe you are aware of an event or training opportunity that you would like to share, maybe you would like to share your career history &/or secondment experience and your future plans, or maybe you are a budding artist and would like to submit a ‘topical’ cartoon or illustration? We are looking for contributions to bring together technical staff from all areas of the University, to share our achievements and celebrate our vital contribution to teaching and research within our University and beyond. For further editorial details, please see the TEaM blog ( .

Just one final thought…….

“If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.“ Chinese Proverb

 Rae Watkins (Chair)

* Artuitive & Career coach, Communications & Connection Strategist


TEaM Launch Event 12th December 2016

TEaM Networking Event 31st January 2017

Second quarterly coffee, tea & networking event

The next coffee, tea & networking event will be held in the Common Room of the Arthur Lewis Building from 10.30am to 11.30am on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017. The session will not only provide the opportunity for networking with technical colleagues from across the University, but also the first opportunity to sign-up for workplace tours in the following quarter and hear about future tour ideas, as well as other non-TEaM events.

Please visit this Eventbrite link to register to attend.

Academic Perspective – Professor Richard Grencis

Professor Richard Grencis FRSB,
Professor of Immunology
Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

My research relies heavily on the use of animals and I have worked with the technical staff in the University’s animal facility (BSF) for over 25 years.

The many challenges of working with animals, changing legislation relating to animal work and the progress in biology, genetics and new technologies place varied and often unique demands on the technical staff in the BSF. Despite these, in my experience, one of the key attributes of the technical staff evident in the BSF in Manchester is the “can do” attitude. This is exemplified by one recent development within the BSF, the establishment of the Manchester Gnotobiotic Facility.  This is a facility, which requires the provision of animals (mice) completely free from bacteria.  It is becoming increasingly apparent that our overall health is influenced considerably by our intestinal microflora, i.e. the bacteria that live in the intestine. The ability to be able to study this in a detailed manner requires studies in “germ free” animals. To establish this within a busy multiuser unit such as ours is an enormous challenge, but the attitude was always that it would be possible, whatever was required.

The support and effort that the technical staff put into this venture was exemplary, requiring imaginative solutions to the many challenges it presented. The success of this facility enabled us to establish one of the first such units in an academic institution in the UK, and has already been used by other leading UK University research groups. Moreover, establishing this capability in Manchester enabled external funding to be applied for and obtained to increase our capabilities in this area of research going forward.

The critical importance of dedicated technical staff to this venture cannot be underestimated; it would not have been possible without them. It is one of many examples where the enthusiasm and the unique expertise of our technical staff has really made a difference to our research and their value cannot be underestimated.

Teaching lab celebrates International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th every year.  This year’s theme was Be Bold For Change, and highlighted the shocking statistic that, at current rates of change, the gender gap won’t close until 2168 (according to the World Economic Forum).  Female staff in the FBMH Teaching Labs posed for this photo to show their support for the campaign, but male staff benefit too from reducing the gender gap, particularly where family benefits such as parenting leave are concerned.  Thanks to Hayley Monk for this photo.

January networking event

At the end of January we hosted a coffee and networking event in the foyer of the Schuster building.  As well as tea, coffee and delicious cakes (what diet?), TEaM members had the opportunity to sign up for a professional registration workshop with the Science Council and a selection of tours of: the Animal Unit, the Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery.  As a thank-you for coming to the event, those who signed up had the first opportunity to book a place: any places left after that were advertised to the whole TEaM email list.  Both the tours and the event proved really popular (80 people came to the event, and places on the workshop and tours went very quickly).  We’re planning on holding the networking events every 3 months, and have new tours to offer at these, as well as a newsletter.


Thanks so much to everyone who came and we hope to have much more to offer you over the coming weeks and months, watch out for updates!

Science Council Professional Registration Workshop

On Monday 20th February the Science Council was on campus to give a workshop to 17 technical staff about professional registration – how to apply, and what level (R. Sci. Tech, R. Sci or C. Sci) to apply for.

The workshop covered all the main competencies for professional registration which include: – Application of knowledge and understanding, Personal Responsibility, Interpersonal Skills, professional practice and professionalism. The workshop explored each competency and examples where given for the competencies giving staff detailed guidance on how to complete the application form in a timely and concise manner.

Feedback from the day was good; staff said that it was very useful and definitely helped with their applications.  TEaM will definitely be gauging interest for another one at the next coffee & networking event.

TEaM Launch

TEaM celebrates Technical Excellence at Manchester

Nearly 200 technical staff gathered together on Monday 12th December to launch a new cross-Faculty technical networking group, TEaM (Technical Excellence at Manchester).  Created by technical staff, for technical staff, the group aims to raise their profile across campus, ensure their contributions to the University are recognised, and empower them to develop their careers.  The initiative is supported by all three Directors of Faculty Operations, as well as Vice-President Colin Bailey, who is the group’s Academic Technical Champion.

The event featured presentations from Jonathan Winter, Head of Staff Learning and Development, and Hannah Kowszun, a representative of the Science Council.  Dr. Carol Yates, an academic who began her career as a technician, spoke about the evolving status of the technical career, from ‘lab boys’ in the 1900s to the more complex role today, and members of the TEaM steering group reported on survey results concerning the challenges technical staff face across the University.  TEaM’s promotional video also had its debut, and it can be seen here.

The technical staff were encouraged to network over a buffet lunch and give their opinions at a variety of different discussion stands, including one where they voted on future TEaM events they’d like to see organised, by pipetting fluids into measuring cylinders – this being a technical event, there had to be an opportunity to show technical skills!

Lisa Grady, one of the TEaM steering group, said “The steering group were thrilled to see so many staff really engage with the group’s purpose and look forward to seeing that enthusiasm at our next events in the New Year”.  Feedback from staff who attended was very positive, including comments that “…the whole event was an amazing opportunity to get to know different technicians around the university…” and “I feel like TEaM is a great way of showing people what we actually do…”