UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


IoO Careers' Network & Events

The Careers' Network team at the IoO oversees the planning of events for students and different staff groups including ECRs, technicians, administrators, fellows, and PIs.

IoO Careers Network team

Maria Balda

Early Career Researchers (ECR) and Postgraduate Researchers 
Jacqui van der Spuy, Karen Eastlake

Equality Challenge Team
Tessa Dekkar and Wing-Chau Tung

We are organising a programme of events for all staff members at the institute. To reach this wide audience, we coordinate input and efforts from different teams at the institute, including ECR Network, PSS Network, Equality Challenge Team. Other UCL departments can be involved in joint events where possible. 

Most popular events in 2020

Early Career Researchers (ECR) and Postgraduate Researchers (PGR) 

The most popular event in 2020 was the ECR symposium with approximately 80-90 people attending the talks on each day. Participation was high and discussions on both posters and talks went very well despite the move to an online platform. Feedback was very positive with some constructive feedback provided for next year. The IoO ECR Lates were also well attended on the MS teams platform, with approximately 40 people attending to hear the talks. In addition the "My PI Story" events which detail junior PIs' journey through academia, were also well attended (40-50 people). We received very positive feedback about these events as people appreciate the honesty of the PIs. PGR events (termly PGR Induction, Dilemma Game, PGR Forum Meeting for Students and Supervisors) delivered through the PGR office were also well attended and received positive feedback. In particular, the Research Ethics and Integrity Workshops (Dilemma Game) attracted large numbers of PGR students (up to 60) from across the Faculty of Brain Sciences, and received widespread praise as an excellent networking opportunity for PhD students from across the Faculty. Moreover, the first PGR forum focusing on the UCL Response to the Coronavirus and its impact on PGR students was extremely well received and attended by ~70-80 attendees.  

Professional Service and Technician (PS&T)
Equality Challenge Team (ECT)

The most popular event in this section was 'Careers in Operations Management' with talks from Geoff Dunk, Wing-Chau Tung and Ben Webb on their career pathways. The event was attended by 104 participants and was open to staff and students across UCL. The feedback was very positive and plans are in place to run similar events such a Careers in Financial Management, HR, Health and Safety, Lab Management. 

Following on from the Careers in Operations Management event we held 3 career advice surgeries with the speakers. Geoff Dunk is happy to support this initiative again and there are plans to scale up and combine with other Institutes/Divisions to create a Faculty-wide surgery. Many of the events organised are done both by ECT and PS&T

12 March 2020 – International Women’s Day.  Meet people behind the scenes (47 Attended)
19 March 2020 – Remote Working, ISD (48 attendees)
02 June 2020 – Managing Sickness (managers only) (39 attendees)


Key Challenges in 2020

Early Career Researchers (ECR)
The transition to everything being online was difficult, but we managed to overcome this, we learnt to use MS teams and how best to adapt these events to the online environment. We had a few technical problems early on for our new ECR email, but these were quickly resolved and it has been great being able to communicate/advertise our events through a dedicated email address for ECRs. This also serves as a more official point of contact for our committee (thank you to Wing-Chau for organising this!). 

Professional Service and Technician (PS&T)
No problems encountered. Everyone adapted well to events being held on MS Teams and some of the PS&T staff reported that it is easier for them to attend virtual rather than face-to-face events.  

Equality Challenge Team (ECT)
We decided the 'Where Do you Draw the Line' anti-bullying training is more effective in person, and we will look to reschedule it. 
We also noted that PhD students who wanted to organise an event for peers experienced hurdles from not being clear on how to decide on budget and then when they did there was a long discussion on this, room booking, and advertising. They found this very discouraging. We discussed providing more support on event organisation by assigning a specific administrator/manager to each event, and created some guidelines.

Priorities/key actions for 2020/21

Early Career Researchers (ECR)
We  continue with the ECR IoO Lates and the "My PI Story" events. We have had discussions about a ‘careers outside academia’ seminar which we would like to bring to the ECRs soon. In addition, before lockdown we wanted to try and bring some courses to IoO for the ECRs – it has been suggested that 'English writing' and 'statistics' courses are in demand. We are in touch with a statistician who might be able to bring these so will have more information on this soon.

Professional Service and Technician (PS&T)
At the PS&T staff meeting in July 2020 there were breakout sessions to gather feedback on training needs, general support and future activities for PS&T staff going forward. Based on this we are now putting in place a series of events such as a PS&T away day, a 'Meet the Directors' and further PS&T staff meetings, in addition to career-related events and career-advice surgeries mentioned above.
There is strong interest in continuing the Lunch and Learn sessions remotely and we are putting together a list of topics to be covered such as Effective Communications, Sharepoint, Word documents and time management.

Equality Challenge Team (ECT)
'Lunch & Learn' will continue with monthly sessions; a career talk is currently being planned, along with more surgeries for PS&T staff;'Resourcefulness and Resilience' courses are planned for November. We did a lot of focus groups to evaluate the Athena Swan application action plan. These will include topics around career development but not be centrally scheduled events. We will report on this in the Athena Swan application itself and at the committee meetings. 

All Careers Events organised between November 2018 and 2020


ECR and PGR committees were founded in 2018 
Careers talk - Making the Leap: What’s it like working for Industry? February 
1st ECR IoO Symposium. May   
Meet the Directors. November  
IoO Lates. November 


ECR and PGR Events
Speed Networking (PhD students/post-docs) - January  
Lunchtime Social - PhD students only. March 
One-day Entrepreneurial Skills workshop for PhD students at UCL’s BaseKX March 
Academic Career Paths Seminar – (4 speakers from early career pathways; including lecturing teaching and research) March 
IoO Lates . April  
IoO 2nd ECR Symposia. Held at the Winter gardens and lecture theatre at Institute of Child Health. Over 100 attended. June
IoO Lates. June  
IoO Lates. September 
PostDoc Appreciation Week October 
PGR Public engagement opportunities: It’s All Academic Festival. October 
IoO Lates. October
Entrepreneurial skills training workshops for doctoral students. November 
PGR induction. November 
Meet the Directors. November 
IoO Lates. November 

PS&T Events
PS&T Network coffee morning – invited guest Prof. Julie Daniels January 
Meet the Directors for Professional Services Staff Themes February 
PS&T Network coffee morning – invited guest Dr Andi Skilton  April 
UCL Professional Services Conference  June, at UCL
Women in Higher Education Network June, at UCL 

ECT Events
Professional Services and Technical Staff meeting. Sept 
What can Gender do for me, Equality Challenges Activity- November 
Taking the Lead. Training line managers manage difficult situations. November
Student induction event . PhD student induction booklet.  November
Meet the Directors event. ECT and ECR committees. November 
MS Teams Demo. December
ECT PhD Welcome Talk and Lunch. December


ECR and PGR Events
Speed network January 
IoO Lates. January  
IoO Lates. February 
Research Ethics and Integrity Workshop (Dilemma Game) for PGR students (Faculty of Brain Sciences), March 
PGR Induction March 
PGR Student and Supervisor Forum Meeting: May 
IoO Lates. (MS Teams) May 
Research Ethics and Integrity Workshop (Dilemma Game) for PGR students (MS Teams). June   
My PI Story (MS Teams) Idea thought up by Ryan MacDonald – enlisted by ECR. June
IoO Lates  (MS Teams) June 
ECR 3rd Symposium. MS Teams June 29th to 1st July 
My PI Story (MS Teams) Tessa Dekker. Ryan MacDonald hosting. July  
IoO Lates (MS Teams) July 
My PI Story  (MS Teams) August  
My PI Story Marta Andres de Miguel (Ear institute). September
My PI Story (MS Teams) Dr. Emily Eden (IoO) October 
PGR Induction (MS Teams) October 
My PI Story Nikolas Pontikos, MEC Career Development Fellow (IoO). November 
Research Ethics and Integrity Workshop for PGR students (Dilemma Game) November 
PGR Student and Supervisor Forum Meeting November