College of Life Sciences

Natalie Lazar Adler

Head shot of Natalie LazarEnterprising Facility Operational Manager

Did you experience any significant barriers / challenges in getting to where you are now? And if so, how did you overcome these?

I faced two major career progression challenges to reach my current post. The first was the challenge to stay employed in academic research at the completion of my first postdoctoral research project. After several attempts at obtaining grant funding to remain in independent research proved unsuccessful, and with only three months left on my fixed term research contract, I reluctantly took the only job opportunity available at the time and moved into technical professional services. After about a year in post, I experienced my second challenge as departmental restructuring resulted in a substantial change to my job description and responsibilities. My new post as a Facility Manger included significant administrative and managerial duties, as well as my first occasion to be a direct line manager. I embraced this change as an opportunity and enrolled in a leadership and management course to develop the skills to succeed in my new role. These new skills have been essential to adapt and thrive in my post.

What are your future career aspirations?

I enjoy working in technical professional services as it allows me to be involved in supporting research without the challenges of hands-on experimental work or the constant funding burden. Moving forward, I would like to find a senior leadership role within professional services with allows me to continue helping researchers realise their projects. My career has progressed with the encouragement and advice of many inspiring senior colleagues and I would love to be in a position to pay forward these efforts and help the next generation of women in academia to launch their careers.

What leadership experiences / opportunities have you had thus far (either in your personal or professional life)?

I first embarked on leadership experiences by being an active committee member of several student clubs during my undergraduate years. This was a fantastic introduction into leadership as it gave the opportunity to learn how to lead in a friendly environment of peers and manage short-term projects with clear, obtainable aims like organising events or changing existing procedures. To this day, I am still involved in a number of committees both at work and in my personal life. I enjoy being engaged in helping out the work and social communities to which I belong and I am continually learning new things and meeting new people.

Do you think women face particular challenges in leadership, or are these the same as those experienced by their male colleagues?

Recently I attempted to purchase a birthday card and present for a one year old and was shocked and horrified at the gender-stereotyped selection available and the lack of options for a gender-neutral gift for a child who has yet to develop their own personality and preferences. The challenge to women in leadership, which is unique to their experience, is that they must tackle these entrenched stereotypes on a daily basis. Because many of these stereotypes are unconscious in nature, and the resultant actions and decisions seemly insignificant, it can be especially difficult to confront and change them. Woman who wish to succeed in leadership need to be ready to challenge these stereotypes, and to do so, it helps to have a network of supportive female and male colleagues.

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