Meet the National Centre Team

Natalie Kennerley

Natalie Kennerley

Deputy Director

Mel Leitch

Mel Leitch

Deputy Director

Chris Turgoose

Chris Turgoose

Centre and Business Development Manager

Sara Bacon

Sara Bacon

Centre Manager

Jared Carnie

Jared Carnie

Operations Manager and Skills Audit Officer

Lizzy Gifford

Lizzy Gifford

Marketing, Communications and Events Officer

Maggie Vickers

Maggie Vickers

Centre Administrator (Maternity Leave 2019)

Fiona Martinez

Fiona Martinez

Centre Administrator

Jake Green

Jake Green

Survey Officer

Karen Bailey-Smith

Karen Bailey-Smith

Specialist Advisor

Ian Tidmarsh

Ian Tidmarsh

Specialist Advisor

Matt Levi

Matt Levi

Specialist Advisor

John-Paul Ashton

John-Paul Ashton

Specialist Advisor

Kirsty Parkin

Kirsty Parkin

Research Support Officer

David Peet

David Peet

Specialist Advisor

Lucy Hudson

Lucy Hudson

Specialist Advisor

Arthur Nicholas

Arthur Nicholas

Specialist Advisor

Simon Breedon, NTDC Specialist Advisor

Simon Breeden

Specialist Advisor

Terry Croft MBE

Director
Terry Croft

Terry’s passion and commitment to the Technical Community resulted in him gaining his role at the University of Sheffield as Director of Technical Development and Modernisation. In 2014, his wealth of knowledge and experience lead him to be awarded a three-year Catalyst Grant by HEFCE. The project entitled “Development & Embedding of Career Pathways for Technicians across the Higher Education Sector” has a number of work-streams, which are outlined on this website, covering a variety issues that are currently affecting the HE institutions. In December 2017 he was awarded £1.125 M to launch a new National Centre for technicians and their employers. HEFCE, the University of Sheffield and other partners deemed it as vital to have this “one stop shop” at the National Technician Development Centre, where they can bring together expertise from across the sector, to solve the issues that employers and employees face today and into the future. The NTDC will be working with all higher education institutions and research institutions to deliver a sustainable future for technical staff and services.

Terry is also Chairman of the Institute of Science and Technology; the professional body that represents specialist, technical and managerial staff both nationally and internally and across all sectors including the HE sector.

Terry started his career as an Analytical Chemist for a multinational mining company, Rio Tinto Zinc working within the Analytical Support Team for three years. He also developed new analytical techniques and procedures as instrumentation technology advanced. He then moved to the University of Sheffield to work as the Chief Technician in the Botany Department. Within four years, Terry became the Departmental Superintendent, and after another four years became Departmental Manager of the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences that is in existence today. During this period, he also added a number of postgraduate and specialist qualifications to his degree in Environmental Sciences.

During a time of huge change in all science departments, Terry was able to bring to bear his management skills and deliver the operational changes that were necessary. Terry was championing the need for a more professional approach to the training and development of the technical workforce not only at the University of Sheffield but also in the HE sector as a whole. It is this ethos that Terry brings to the NTDC team. In 2008 after a series of promotions, Terry took the role of Faculty Director of Operations.

In his career to date, Terry has received a number of awards and accolades. These include the award of MBE for services to humanity after he rescued an academic colleague and his family from the violence occurring in Iraq in 1992. Terry was also elected as the first President of the ‘Professional Technical Specialists in Education’ Group. More recently he was given the status of “One of the Top 100 Leading Scientists 2014” by the UK’s Science Council. In addition Terry was also awarded Chartered Scientist status (CSci) by the Science Council in 2017.

Natalie Kennerley

Deputy Director
Natalie Kennerley

Natalie was recruited to the initial TDM project by Terry, her role within this was Co-project manager. Until recently she has been a long standing member of the University of Sheffield with more than 28 years with the institution – starting herself as a trainee technician. For the latter part of her work at Sheffield Natalie was the Technical Manager for Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology responsible for day-to-day running and long term planning of the Neuroscience facility which employs around 30 staff (from academics and researchers, to junior technicians and students).

More recently Natalie has taken up a post at Manchester Metropolitan University in the role of Technical Services Development Manager. She works closely with the Head of Technical Services and in partnership with PVC’s, Heads of Research & Knowledge Exchange and Heads of University Centres for Research and Knowledge Exchange to develop a Technical Services Organisational and Development Strategy which integrates and aligns with the strategic business goals of the University.

Her achievements have been recognised by the Institute of Science & Technology (IST) where she holds fellowship and Chartered Scientist status. Natalie is now actively involved with the IST as Secretary and Public Relations Officer and also assessor for professional registration for RSciTech, RSci and CSci. She is also a member of the Science Council common pool of assessors and a member of the Science Council Registration Assessment Committee.

Natalie’s real passion is the promotion of technicians as highly skilled experts and she co-founded “TechNet” now a national technical networking group which supports technicians in higher education institutions.

Natalie is the former director of ‘Theory and Practise’ training courses at the University of Sheffield. Working with a leading industry partner she built up a substantial portfolio of professional courses across the University Disciplines which were offered to delegates from across the UK as well as Europe.

Mel Leitch

Deputy Director
Mel Leitch

Mel has been a Technician at Newcastle University since 1984. He started as a trainee technician and was placed in the Department of Physiological Sciences, rotating around the various labs picking up expertise along the way. Following the trainee post, Mel was appointed to a full time technical post within the same department and attached to a group interested in membrane transporters.

From Physiology, Mel moved to the Department of Psychiatry, which later merged with other units to become the Institute of Neuroscience, working within a Research Unit tasked with investigating the biological mechanisms of depression. Mel graduated from the Open University with a first class degree in Chemistry and Life Science. He then studied part time for an MPhil, which took him down the path of investigating the impact of stress hormones on the function of a particular receptor in the brain shown to be blunted in depression. The project had a great outcome which led to publications and presentations at international conferences. Mel later chose to develop his career into Technical Management and has been in his current role since 2006.

In 2014 Mel became involved with promoting Professional Registration at Newcastle University and gained CSci status through the IST. The success at Newcastle was recognised by the Science Council and Newcastle University was awarded the Employer Champion award in 2016. Mel has also shared the HEaTED coordinators role for the North East, and with colleagues at Newcastle and Sheffield University he established an internal Technicians Networking group – NU TechNet. To date, this has been a massive success and paved the way for Newcastle University becoming a founder signatory of the Technician Commitment in 2017. The strategy at Newcastle for implementing the Technician Commitment was launched in February 2018 and Mel shares the role of institutional lead ensuring the strategy is successfully operationalised.

Chris Turgoose

Centre and Business Development Manager
Chris Turgoose

Chris Turgoose is the Centre Manager with a brief covering business development. She was the co-project manager and workstream lead for the previous TDM project, having moved from her role as Professional Staff Development Coordinator in the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield.

Chris has a background in work psychology and career planning and guidance and has worked in a number of roles in HE since 1999. These include applied research and the administration and management of a work psychology consultancy unit. She has a particular interest in the importance of career planning and progression and while working on this project has developed a specialist understanding of how apprenticeship schemes work and has set up a Trailblazer group.

While working as staff development coordinator, Chris worked on a project that focused on ‘support’ staff and how critical they are to the higher education environment. The project focused on changing the language used to describe support staff and how these staff are perceived within the university workforce.

Chris believes that technical staff are of significant value and importance to higher education institutions. She states that ‘The whole of the institution depends on the competencies of its technicians.’ Working on this project has further cemented this belief for Chris.

Sara Bacon

Centre Manager
Sara Bacon

Sara joined the NTDC as Centre Manager in May 2019 and has said of starting the role “I am excited to be part of an experienced and committed team that promote the technical profession and enable technical staff to become professionally recognised, enhance their employability, career progression and visibility.

“I see the NTDC as providing a vital role in helping to reduce the predicted technical skills shortfall in Higher Education and to provide central expertise and tools that can support the technical community and HEIs. This is so important for institutions to recognise and value their technical staff and to meet their Technician Commitment.”

After graduating from the University of Sheffield with a BSc(Hon) in Chemistry, Sara completed a PhD in Bioinorganic Chemistry which included collaboration with the the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg on kinetic studies of biological models synthesised. She moved into industry working for Croda Chemicals as a research chemist and then as a product development manager in the research and development of personal care products such as shampoos and cosmetics.

Sara then moved to Data Manager where she managed a team on the implementation of a new SAP system (System, Applications and Products) to increase efficiency and improve productivity within the company. Sara has also worked in a consultancy firm developing surveys and in recruitment assessment for the police.

Most recently Sara has worked in teaching, recruitment and liaison roles across the secondary education and Higher Education sector. “I have particularly enjoyed the mentoring,  training and teaching aspects as well as event/project management and the management of a laboratory facility.”

“Having worked with technicians in industry, teaching, outreach and recruitment I appreciate the huge impact that technicians have on income generation and in enhancing the student experience by providing high quality research and teaching support.”

Jared Carnie

Operations Manager and Skills Audit Officer
Jared Carnie

Jared joined the Technical Development and Modernisation team in October 2014. Coming from an administrative background, Jared worked as a data analyst, developing and piloting the Technician Skills, Roles and Responsibilities Audit at a number of institutions.  As part of the National Technician Development Centre, Jared has a dual role: he continues overseeing the development and use of the Skills Audit and also works as Operations Manager for the office-based NTDC team.

‘I’ve been a part of the team now for three years after previously working within the NHS. The main thing I’ve learned from my time in the team is how important technicians are to the running of a university. Previously, I had a sense of what technicians did, but I didn’t fully grasp the extent to which their fingerprints are on nearly every corner of a university. I feel fortunate to be a part of a team that contains so much experience and passion for their work.’

Lizzy Gifford

Marketing, Communications and Events Officer
Lizzy Gifford

Lizzy graduated from the University of Sheffield with a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Science Communication and joined the team in January 2016. Between studies she worked for a charity and a Local Council on communication and sustainability. Lizzy manages the NTDC website and the social media channels for the project as well as directly contributing to the workstreams. She attends conferences and presentations that the team deliver and leads on the production of all the publication material.

Maggie Vickers

Centre Administrator (Maternity Leave 2019)
Maggie Vickers

Maggie joined the Catalyst Team in January 2016, after graduating from The University of Sheffield with a Biomedical Science degree. Maggie is Centre Administrator /Data Systems and Management Support Officer. She provides administrative support and coordinates office activities, while also directly contributing to the project workstreams. Maggie also supports the operations manager with data capture, analysis and reporting of the TDM Skills Audit and supports the ongoing development of the survey.

Fiona Martinez

Centre Administrator
Fiona Martinez

Fiona joined the National Technician Development Centre in November 2018 as Centre Administrator. Fiona has a BA in English and MA in Modern and Contemporary Literature from Sheffield Hallam University, and is currently completing a PhD. Fiona has worked as an Administrator for a small Cloud Solutions company in Sheffield and as a Management Secretary within Children’s Services at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. As Centre Administrator at the NTDC, Fiona manages the department’s administration and coordinates office activities, while also providing management support to the Director and Centre Manager.

Jake Green

Survey Officer
Jake Green

Jake joined the Centre in December 2018, after graduating from The University of Sheffield with a degree in International Relations and Politics. With a background in data analytics and administration, Jake’s role as Survey Officer involves data capture and analysis to support the continued development and roll-out of the survey.

“Having not come from an academic discipline where technicians are prevalent, I never fully appreciated the contribution they make to the HE sector. I feel privileged to work in a team that has so much knowledge and experience geared towards bettering the working lives of such a large part of the higher education community”.

Karen Bailey-Smith

Specialist Advisor
Karen Bailey-Smith

Karen is Technical Team Leader in the Department of Biosciences and Chemistry at Sheffield Hallam University, a role she has held for over 10 years. She is responsible for the laboratory management of the departments research laboratories and for the management of the technical team.

Karen started as a technician in a food testing laboratory, worked in vaccine manufacture and for the Ministry of Agriculture and fisheries in New Zealand. She returned to the UK to study for her PhD in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield.

‘I have first-hand experience of being a technician on the receiving end of not being recognised for my knowledge, experience and ability. Technical staff are often seen as being the jack of all trades and the ones who ‘know everything’, but this wealth of knowledge is not valued or preserved. This project is therefore a chance for me to address this issue.’

Karen works with the National Centre, previously focussed on producing guidance around Mentoring, Work Shadowing and Networking. ‘This project has shown me that technicians all over the country face real issues with regard to lack of clarity of role grades, career opportunities and where they ‘fit’ within the national technical workforce so that career progression is a clear route. I had no idea of the predicted shortfall in numbers of technicians that the STEAM environment faces, it’s a real concern.’

Ian Tidmarsh

Specialist Advisor
Ian Tidmarsh

Ian is Head of Operations for the Collaborative Teaching Laboratory at the University of Birmingham. The £42m facility provides state-of-the-art laboratories to enable interdisciplinary teaching mimicking industrial working practices. Ian has also been an Operations Manager and a Technical Manager and has been involved in a number of projects focusing on Technical staff at Birmingham and externally.

Prior to this, Ian held more academically focused roles. These roles allowed Ian to view technical support from the academic’s perspective, highlighting needs and effective ways of working.

Networking lead Ian to the TDM project and the NTDC. His expertise in technical organisational structures and roles is essential to the NTDC. Ian understands that without technicians many facilities simply could not operate and this underpins the activities of the NTDC team.

Concerned that technical staff do not receive the benefits and recognition they deserve, Ian is committed to promoting the profession. The contribution of technicians frequently goes unnoticed due to a lack of understanding and acknowledgement of the roles that they conduct and their enormous impact on teaching and research. Universities are only now starting to acknowledge the positive impact Technicians have on TEF, REF and NNS. The NTDC will provide institutions with tools to allow them to realise the benefits of their existing technician populations. It will also provide a clear framework for progression and a range of tools to aid development.

Ian is a Chartered Scientist (CSci) accredited by the Science Council and is a Fellow of the Institute of Science and Technology (FIScT).

Matt Levi

Specialist Advisor
Matt Levi

Matt has been working in Higher Education for 27 years, many as Head of Staff Development and the Vocational Programmes Unit at Exeter University. He was seconded to HEFCE and then the Leadership Foundation for HE where he established a professional body for HE technicians, working closely to achieve this with the IST. Following a period of diverse self employment on a range of projects he recently returned to the technical fold working with the HEFCE CATALYST team on a taxonomy framework through Sheffield University.

He is an employability specialist, teaching skills programmes at Exeter and other HEIs on a mentoring scheme, leadership programme and student work experience projects. He is a director of HIR-ED (transition skills for students) and a telementoring project (WE-Ment) using smart technology to connect learners. He also works as a consultant in an advisory capacity in the apprenticeships sector.

Previous achievements have included being recognised as a Fellow at 3 Professional Institutions (CIPD, IST, SDF) , Deputy Chair then Chair of the SDF, an External Verifier for various qualifications for OCR, won grants for projects of over £2, 000, 000, external examiner for the AUA, external examiner for various HEIs, achieved IiP status for Exeter, ran the largest Modern Apprenticeship Programme at any University in the UK and won the Times Higher Education award for innovation around performance management. Matt has given papers and presentations as far away as Russia as well as at home where he continues to support and promote excellence in UK Higher Education.

John-Paul Ashton

Specialist Advisor
John-Paul Ashton

John-Paul (JP) works as a Research Technician at the University of Sheffield’s Zebrafish Screening Facility (Department of Biomedical Science) and is an Operations & Recruitment Manager for Pro Vital Medical Services Ltd (PVMS).

John-Paul also operates as the Executive Support Officer for the Institute of Science and Technology. He is an IST  member and a Registered Scientist (RSci). JP also assesses for the IST and Science Council registrations.

JP is also co-chair of the Technicians Network (TechNet) at the University of Sheffield and has made a significant contribution to giving technicians visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability through being a member of the Technician Commitment working group at Sheffield.

When he is not working at the University of Sheffield and IST he is a part-time Operations and Recruitment Manager for Pro Vital Medical Services having had 14 years working as a First Responder, Patient Transfer Attendant, Team Leader and Duty Manager at UK Event Medical Services Ltd (UKEMS). He also volunteers with the Scout Association.

Kirsty Parkin

Research Support Officer
Kirsty Parkin

Kirsty has a range of skills and expertise from her previous marketing and hospitality management roles which enable her to provide valuable support to the National Centre. She is also the Assistant Editor of the IST Journal and brings her experience from this role to the NTDC.

Kirsty supports the NTDC team with research, data gathering and interpretation in her role as Research Support Officer. She has a keen interest in digital marketing and web development and is currently undertaking a degree at the Open University, focused on business management, accounting and marketing.

David Peet

Specialist Advisor
David Peet

David’s career has spanned nearly 40 years in education, covering both schools and higher education. He has experience both in the UK and internationally.

In his last role at the University of Cambridge, he oversaw new initiatives for technicians, including schemes for professional registration and technical apprenticeships. He has also developed expertise in workforce planning, as a foundation to help HEIs develop their technical staff and enhance career development. Prior to this appointment, for over a decade, he oversaw the technical and research infrastructure, including all staff development, in the university’s Physics Department.

David is a chartered member of the Institute of Physics and a member of the Institute of Science and Technology. He acts as a reviewer for the evaluation of the Technician Commitment and for many years has assessed Athena SWAN Award applications. Amongst his formal qualifications, he has obtained a MEd in educational assessment, and a PhD from Lancaster University in the area of organisational change.  

Lucy Hudson

Specialist Advisor
Lucy Hudson

Lucy has worked at the University of York, in the Biology Department for more than twenty-five years, beginning her career as a trainee research technician, attending day release at Leeds Polytechnic (now Leeds Beckett University) to complete a degree in health sciences. Whilst having always worked in the Department of Biology, Lucy has held various roles across the Department, from cancer research, plant biology, as a coordinator of a large EU grant to laboratory manager of the Immunology and Infection Centre. This breadth of experience has been most useful in Lucy’s current role as Departmental Technical Operations Manager.

Lucy continued her career development, taking full advantage of courses hosted by the University in leadership, personal development and coaching, and has been played a key role in the expansion teaching space for the department with the design and construction of more than 3,000m2 of new laboratories, seminar & PC rooms, and student social space, project value £30million.

Lucy says one of the most valuable skills learnt in her career is networking; in 2006, Lucy and University technical colleagues set up TechYork, a network to support, coach and educate the 300+ technical specialists working at York University, including an annual one-day conference. TechYork has been a great success, a trusted and respected brand for the technicians and is the platform for York’s Technician Commitment communications and events.

Lucy sits on the University of York Technician Commitment Steering Group and is leading the sub group developing grade role descriptors and career pathways for technicians. Lucy is a member of the Royal Society of Biology and IST.

York University have encouraged and given Lucy opportunities to have a successful career as a technician, and now Lucy would like to pass on her knowledge and enthusiasm to develop, grow and enhance the roles of the technicians in the Biology Department, at York and nationally, where she can, mimicking her own experience as a trainee technician.

Arthur Nicholas

Specialist Advisor
Arthur Nicholas

Arthur possesses a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience in the effective delivery of research, teaching and professional services in the UKs Higher Education Institution (HEI) sector. He has attained this through progressing a career and continued professional development as a Science Technician and Management Practitioner at the University of Manchester.

Arthur has served as an elected member of Manchester University’s General Assembly and was elected, in 2018, as a trustee of the Science Council. He has well established, productive working relationships within a number of professional bodies.

Arthur attained an M.Sc. and PhD whilst working, as a Technician, at the University of Manchester. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) and Institute of Science and Technology (FIScT). He has held the posts of Treasurer and Chair for the University Bioscience Managers’ Association (UBMA) and acted as a Regional Network Co-ordinator for HEaTED.

A chartered member of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (CMIOSH) and Member of the Institute of Safety in Technology and Research (MISTR); Arthur worked with colleagues across the HEI sector in developing the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) H&S guidance for student placements and acted as a Regional Network Co-ordinator for The Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA).

Working with professional bodies and organisations, Arthur enthusiastically and effectively contributes to shaping best practice and achieving, HEI sector wide, advances; most notably in enhancing the professionalism, employability and career progression prospects of technical staff and in the development of safe & sustainable laboratories.

Simon Breeden

Specialist Advisor
Simon Breedon, NTDC Specialist Advisor

Simon has worked in Universities in the UK and Ireland for 25 years since graduating with a PhD from the University of Manchester (UMIST as it was then). He has worked as a researcher developing anti-cancer Drugs (Manchester), treatments for opiate abuse and analgesia (Bristol), catalytic asymmetric synthesis (Warwick) and he also ran a successful independent research group at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Simon started at the University of York in 2004 as a Senior Research Fellow in the Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and transitioned to his current role as Departmental Operations Manager in Chemistry in 2012.

Simon’s wide range of experiences working in chemistry departments of varying sizes and shapes has proved enormously useful in developing strategies and plans to keep one of the largest Chemistry departments in the UK operational. This involves ensuring a consistently high position in league tables for the teaching of around 800 students as well as maintaining a strong research performance from the 51 members of staff, 160 graduates, over 60 research fellows and seven independent research fellows.

Key to the successful operation of any science department, particularly a large chemistry department are the technicians. As a historically under-represented group of staff, Simon has spent many years championing technicians, but this has clearly had a very specific focus since he has headed the Chemistry technicians at York.

Simon is a passionate advocate for networking and engaging with colleagues at all levels of an organisation, believing that the most effective way to learn is from understanding other’s successes and failures.

He has been a strong voice encouraging the recognition and empowerment of technicians at York, for example by handing control of TechYork to technicians themselves. TechYork has now grown even further and is a great success and a trusted and respected brand for technicians, as well as being the platform for York’s Technician Commitment communications and events.

Simon sits on the University of York Technician Commitment Steering Group and is leading the sub group identifying skills of the technical community across the institution. He will be looking to use the information for strategic workforce planning and technician development as well as developing career pathways for technicians.

Simon is a Chartered Chemist with the Royal Society of Chemistry.