We Are Randox | Tech Trailblazer Margaret Le Roux
Tech Trailblazers: Margaret Le Roux
Sync NI, in celebration of Women in Tech, recently spoke with our IT Operations Team Leader Margaret.
Read on as Margaret share’s her typical day, the favourite thing about her job, and how her specialist role at Randox combines a degree in Biomedical Science with a passion for software development.
Name: Margaret Le Roux
Role: IT Operations Team Leader, Randox Laboratories
I graduated from the University of Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe), as a Biomedical Scientist in 1980. My career in South Africa was then predominantly in the clinical laboratory medicine field, and I qualified as a Technical Assessor for clinical laboratories through the South African National Accreditation System. I moved to Belfast in 2014 and started work with Randox.
What does your typical day look like?
I work in an IT Operations role bridging our science and quality control software, which assesses the accuracy and reliability of blood tests, and the machines they are run on, in the likes of hospitals, laboratories, and veterinary clinics. On a typical day, I deal with customer queries about this software, troubleshoot the issues, and drive new developments to improve our systems and applications. I also spend time training Randox staff, mentoring some of my junior colleagues, and speaking at Biomedical Science Conferences to educate others in the industry about the importance of quality control software.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the specification for our external quality assessment software, which involves a mock blood sample being run in a laboratory’s analyser, and the result being sent back to Randox so that we can independently check that it is performing correctly.
I have also been working on the software project that saw Randox win ‘Project Team of the Year’ at the 2019 Belfast Telegraph IT Awards. This cloud-based quality control technology was specifically designed for ‘Point of Care’ machines which provide finger prick blood tests for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, in pharmacies, GP surgeries and A&E departments.
Did you always want to work in the tech industry?
I have been very lucky that my specialist role at Randox combines my degree in Biomedical Science, and my experience in QC, with my passion for software development. In South Africa, I worked as a Quality Officer for a large private laboratory, with 3 main laboratories and over 100 peripheral sites across 10 African countries. The management of quality control data was a huge job and as such I became interested in a software program that could assist the lab with this task.
What inspired you to join Randox in particular?
Whilst working in South Africa, I was one of Randox’s customers, and made extensive use of their quality control products. Randox has always had a very good reputation in South Africa so when I moved to Belfast it was a natural choice for me.
What’s your favourite part about your work?
It’s a great feeling when we introduce a new release to our software and you know that the customers are going to benefit from it.
What would you say to other people considering a job in the tech industry?
A job in the tech industry is simultaneously exciting and challenging, as each day brings something new. You will continually be making improvements and striving to make something better, which is a good work ethic. It’s really satisfying when you are part of a team which develops a software program that is so well accepted in the market and useful to the customer.
How do you see this technology impacting on our lives?
The technology industry is so fluid and moving at such a fast pace, and there are developments across all industries which are making our lives easier. At Randox in particular, our software is helping a range of healthcare professionals – whether laboratory technicians, clinicians or veterinarians – to achieve our shared goal of saving and improving the lives of patients. It’s rewarding to know we are making a difference.
Who inspired you to work in this field?
In the field of Quality Control, I was inspired by Dr Pandelani Rambau, a Clinical Pathologist from Johannesburg. In IT, it was a colleague Sean Dicks who showed me that there is always a way to get a program to do what you need it to do.
What do you consider to be the most important tech innovation or development in recent years?
The development of communication devices has been incredibly important. They open up the whole world to us and we can access things, both socially and for education, that previously were only available to a few. They have brought so much information to our fingertips.
What tech gadget could you not live without?
I couldn’t live without my phone, because it is so much more than just a phone. It holds all the important things that make up my life, like messages, memories, and my calendar.
To find out more about Randox IT and the vacancies we have in the team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Contact us or visit our Randox Careers
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Follow football? Then you won’t want to miss our exclusive interview with Glentoran player Corey McMullan.
Mathematics placement student Corey recently signed a two year contract with the prestigious Belfast football team and took some time out during the off season to talk to us about his football journey to date.
Read Corey’s story below.
“I’ve always been into sports. When I was younger I played football, tennis, badminton…I had a go at everything really but football has always been my main passion. Some of my best memories are of the Milk Cup which is held up in the north coast. I was captain of the Derry/Londonderry team and we played against some of the biggest teams in the world including CSKA Moscow and the Corinthians from Brazil. The following year I represented Northern Ireland in the Under 18s Centenary Shield. I think getting to play for your nation is a great honour and what it made it even more sweet was the fact that we beat the Republic in Sligo on St Patrick’s Day by scoring a last minute winner.
The first team that I played for was Limivady United and then when I was nineteen I moved to Ballyclare Comrades. I’m originally from Coleraine but I knew that the Ballyclare team had a good reputation and were good at giving young players a chance on the field. I decided to go and play for them – even though it took me an hour to get to training every week.
I played with them for one year and won ‘Player of the Month’ for the NIFL championship in January before I moved to Glentoran. We had just finished playing the Institute FC in a play-off game in a home and away over two legs and I scored the winner. It was after that game that the manager from Glentoran, Gary Haveron, got in touch. He had been watching the play-off and invited me down to The Oval where I signed my two year contract.
My family were buzzing when I told them I had been signed; they take a big interest in my football and my dad has never missed a match. I feel like I’m ready for it now. I’ve been playing since I was 16 and playing for Glentoran is a great opportunity for me.
We haven’t been told who the first fixture is against but I have already played my debut in Detroit. It was for the fiftieth anniversary of the Detroit Cougars, when Glentoran, representing NI, went to America to raise the profile of football there. The Glentoran squad exceeded everyone’s expectations as they were the only semi-professional football team that were brought over at that time and they did really well. Going as part of this team in 2017 was a great experience and it was the first time that I met all the boys on the squad. I started the game which drew in a crowd of 5 thousand people. It was such a big crowd which I didn’t expect. It was a bit surreal.
While we were in the US we went to Third Man Records, a famous records store in Detroit. Usually part of the initiation process when joining a new club involves an embarrassing sing along. So while we were in the record store I sang a rendition of ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams for all the lads. Personally I’m more of a shower singer but it was a bit of craic and a few other guys got up after me. We also got to meet Scott Benson, a Detroit city councilman, and we went on a tour of the city.
Although I’ve always been a keen football player I’m also lucky to be decent at maths and I have tutored for friends and family. You never know where football can take you so in the meantime I’m currently doing my placement year at Randox, working in the Pricing and Tenders department.
I found the opportunity through the university careers portal and at the time I didn’t know that maths could take you into these areas but I’m finding out that a good maths degree can open a lot of doors. I had heard of Randox before as my uncle had previously worked for them and was involved in the early developments of the Randox Science Park. I wasn’t 100% sure what I was going to pursue at university, I had been interested in languages and science but maths was probably my best subject. It sounds simple but that’s honestly the way it was!
It’s been a great experience – I get along with my team very well and I am enjoying the work. I’ve had real hands-on experience during my placement year and I have found that the further I get into my degree the more options are becoming available. I was thinking of doing a masters in maths and also considering doing a PGCE in maths, but I haven’t quite made my mind up about that one yet.
It can be tough trying to balance work and football but I do manage it fit it all in. This past year I’ve been up from 6.30am to get to work and I usually stay on late because I have training after work in Belfast or Crumlin until 8.30pm. After training, I do my own training and practice my shooting to improve my game.
I support Man United as a team but the players whose careers I’d like to emulate would be Pogba and Steven Gerrard. They both play centre mid field and have a similar game to me. Gerrard is a good athlete – there are a lot of guys who can attack and defend but Gerrard is an all-rounded mid fielder. Currently it’s the off season but the pre-season is fast approaching and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and seeing where my football career will take me.”
For more We Are Randox stories make sure to follow #WeAreRandox on our social media channels.
If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out the Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.
Over 50 students from across Northern Ireland celebrated International Women in Engineering Day on Friday 23rd June, by taking part in the first annual STEM Challenge event, hosted by global healthcare firm Randox Laboratories.
The students, from the Belfast Model School for Girls and Victoria College Belfast, joined female scientists, engineers, software developers and mathematicians from Randox, for a number of interactive activities organised to mark the special day, which is aimed at tackling the gender divide in engineering and other science, technology and maths-related disciplines.
Speaking at the event was Professor Máire O’Neill of Queen’s University Belfast – Professor in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and former recipient of the British Female Inventors and Innovators Network’s British Female Inventor of the Year award.
Professor O’Neill commented;
“I’m really delighted to be here today at the Randox STEM event and to have the opportunity to speak with girls who could potentially be the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, software developers, and significantly, on today, International Women in Engineering Day, the next generation of female engineers.
“Engineering is not a job for men. The representation of engineering as a “masculine” job is a socially constructed one, and at that, an inaccurate one. The skills required for engineering are found just as readily in the young girls I see here before me today as they are in their male classmates – patience, analysis, communication, empathy and problem solving.
“Enabling these young girls here today to meet with female engineers from Randox provides them with really positive role models who can share their experiences and hopefully encourage the students to really consider what it is to be an engineer.”
The students had the opportunity to ask the Randox representatives all the questions they wanted to know about working in STEM, and were treated to a tour of the facilities at the recently acquired Randox Science Park, which has become the new headquarters for the company.
Linda Magee, Head of Human Resources at Randox added;
“We want young girls to know that engineering is as much a viable career choice for them as it is for their male counterparts. At Randox our female to male ratio of engineers is significantly higher than the UK average – 15.8% as opposed to only 9% – but we still have a long way to go and we feel quite strongly that we can utilize Randox’s status within the Northern Irish business sector to really spearhead a paradigm shift in how we view engineering disciplines.”
Mark Gray, Biology Teacher at Victoria College Belfast said;
“We were delighted to hear that Randox were hosting a schools event in support of their STEM campaign, to celebrate International Women in Engineering Day. It’s important to give girls the chance to get involved and gain hands-on experience within these different disciplines and deliver the message from an early age that they have the same opportunities as boys in every part of life, especially their careers.
“By giving them more information and explaining the benefits of STEM we’re opening the doors for girls into areas that they might not have considered before. We need to make certain that young girls have the right support and experience to choose the right job in their future professions and a campaign like this offers us the perfect opportunity to do so.”
The Randox STEM challenge on International Women in Engineering Day, Friday 23rd June, was the culmination of a week-long initiative celebrating women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, and in leadership roles across Northern Ireland.
For further information contact Randox PR on 028 9445 1016 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
Global diagnostics manufacturer Randox has launched an initiative to help bring more talented women and men back into the workforce.
Randox Returners has been developed to support professionals who have had a career break for three years or more. The six-month paid scheme gives people the chance to transition back into a working environment without the pressure of taking on a permanent role. Returners will be given the opportunity to work on real-time projects, upgrade their skills and increase their confidence.
Successful candidates will embark on a six-month programme, where they will go through a comprehensive week-long induction and be assigned a personal mentor. As well as the chance of flexible working where possible, there is also the opportunity for the position to become permanent at the end of the scheme.
Linda Magee, Global Head of HR at Randox, said:
“With a returner scheme like this, everyone benefits. In order for us to continually develop and innovate, we need to build teams with ambitious, skilled and dedicated people; and we know there are talented people outside the workforce who want to come back. STEM industries in particular lose highly skilled women, and when you consider this is then combined with an under-representation of women to begin with, it’s clear that action is needed.
“Traditional recruitment methods can be a barrier, with misinformed perceptions about career breaks. We want to challenge this, because we know people can gain new, valuable skills during time away from traditional work. We hope that by offering this programme we’ll appeal to these motivated and experienced people.
“We also want to make sure that once they’ve taken that first step, the experience of being back in work is a positive one. That’s why we’ll provide an extended induction, select a mentor and offer opportunities to improve people’s skills and boost their confidence. It matters to us that our teams succeed, because we depend on them.”
Randox Financial Accountant Michelle Bradley returned to work after a ten-year break to bring up her children.
“Coming back to work after being away for so long was really daunting: the first job I applied for was a much lesser role than ones I had done previously. What impressed me about Randox initially was that they didn’t put me in that role, because there was a role for a more experienced person coming up. When I interviewed for that a month later, I was delighted to get it.
“It was an enormous help to have a mentor, even though it wasn’t an official role then. Bob was very friendly and supportive as I learned a new accounting programme, and that meant my confidence grew quickly. When I needed help to juggle family responsibilities I found Randox understood that, and I’ve now been here over three years.”
Maureen O’Reilly, NI Chamber of Commerce Economist said:
“We are very pleased to welcome the Randox Returners initiative. It is great to see such a positive and practical initiative from the private sector and particularly one focused on encouraging more highly-skilled people back into the workforce.
“I can’t stress how critical this is for an economy like Northern Ireland. We have the highest economic inactivity rate across the UK regions – around 1 in 4 people who could work in Northern Ireland don’t, around 27% in NI compared to around 18% in the south of England.
“Businesses here are currently facing a skills shortage when recruiting for all types of positions, particularly at the senior end of the scale. A CV gap shouldn’t mean the end of the career. Employers are now having to be more flexible, and should recognise that returners can contribute significantly to society and the economy.”
For further information on the Randox Returners programme please visit www.randox.com/randox-returners
Alternatively you can contact Randox PR on 028 9442 2413 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
Over 50 students from Northern Ireland are gearing up to take part in the first annual ‘STEM Challenge’ hosted at the Randox Science Park. The event, held on International Women in Engineering Day, will round off a week in which the global diagnostics company will unveil a number of initiatives to celebrate and promote women in STEM.
The ‘STEM Challenge’ is aimed at tackling the gender divide and skills gap in the science, technology, engineering and maths industry. On average in the UK women make up just 9% of the engineering workforce. Though Randox is bucking the trend with almost 16% of female engineers, it is still keen to challenge itself to encourage more women to view it as a viable career option.
The week kicks off with the launch of a returnership scheme which is being supported by the NI Chamber of Commerce. This was inspired by the experiences of staff members who returned to work after a career break, and meets a growing demand for a modern approach to recruitment. It will challenge society’s misconceptions surrounding career breaks and support both men and women in restarting their careers. As well as supporting individuals, a UK Government report found that increasing the number of women in work by just five per cent could create £750m extra in tax revenue.
Tackling the gender divide from the opposite end of the career ladder will be the focus at the end of the week. Pupils in Years 10 and 11 from the Belfast Model School for Girls and Victoria College will join R&D scientists and engineers at the new state-of-the-art Randox Science Park for a day of interactive sessions and talks to coincide with International Women in Engineering Day, 23rd June.
Welcoming the students and giving the first talk will be the renowned Máire O’Neill. The Professor of Information Security at Queen’s University Belfast and one-time British Female Inventor of the Year is an inspiring role model and passionate advocate for promoting STEM careers to girls.
The company is also hosting an evening to celebrating local role models in its flagship Randox Health clinic in Holywood. Guests will hear from Dorcas Crawford, senior partner at Edwards & Co., and Johann Muldoon, recently named Best Female Architect in Europe. Both women are recognised for their commitment to equality across industry and their own personal achievements in their fields.
Linda Magee, Global Head of HR for Randox said:
“This promises to be a tremendous week but more than that, it has the potential to have long-lasting benefits. We are pleased to be supported by so many inspiring women as well as the NI Chamber of Commerce.
“Randox is an important employer in the UK and also in Donegal. With our expansion plans comes a need to recruit the very best and brightest people. We hope that our schemes and initiatives will engage young people as well as those who are thinking about returning to work.”
For further information contact Randox PR on 028 9445 1016 or email RandoxPR@randox.com
Providing young women with positive role models is crucial if we are to inspire them to take up a career in science, technology, engineering or maths.
That’s why we’re sharing the stories and experiences of our own female scientists, software developers, engineers and mathematicians, and those of STEMinists from other key employers and organisations within Northern Ireland.
We hope that we by sharing their experiences we can encourage young women across the country to truly consider a career in STEM.
Our Randox Scientists
Dr Sarah Gildea, Senior Research and Development Scientist, Randox Laboratories
Aimee Anderson, Biomedical Scientist, Randox Clinical Laboratory Services
Dr Kenneth Martin, Senior Research and Development Scientist, Randox Laboratories
Lauren Cairns, Science Placement Student, Randox Laboratories
Nadine Cutliffe, Research and Development Scientist, Randox Laboratories
Ann-Marie Jennings, Laboratory Manager, Randox Clinical Laboratory Services
Georgia Mitchell, Graduate R&D Scientist, Randox Laboratories
Nadine McKerrow, Graduate R&D Scientist, Randox Laboratories
Patrcyja Roszkowska, Science Placement Student, Randox Laboratories
Rebecca Aldous, Graduate R&D Scientist, Randox Laboratories
Misha Piracha, Clinical Team Leader, Randox Clinical Laboratory Services
James Breen, Laboratory Analyst, Randox Clinical Laboratory Services
Tanya McKinty, Data Analyst, Randox Laboratories
Linda Magee, Biochemist and Global Human Resources Manager, Randox Laboratories
Marie McGarvey, Clinical Research Scientist, Randox Laboratories
Our Randox Technology Team
Andrew Sharp, Software Development Team Leader, Randox Laboratories
Jo-Ann Pearson, Software Developer, Randox Laboratories
Rebecca Long, IT Placement Student, Randox Laboratories
Clare Calgie, Software Developer, Randox Laboratories
Our Randox Engineers
Maryrose McLoone, Mechanical Design Engineer, Randox Laboratories
Harisree Padmaja Kumari Sreekantan Nair, Electrical and Electronic Design Engineer, Randox Laboratories
Our Randox Mathematicians
Emma McElnea, Pricing Analyst, Randox Laboratories
Our partners in STEM
Joanne Stuart, Director of Development, Catalyst Inc.
Dr Christabel Evans, Thermosets and Thermoplastics Research Associate, Ulster University School of Engineering
Professor Tom Millar, Astrophysicist and Director of Queen's University Belfast SWAN Initiative
Melissa Duddy, Manufacturing Engineer, Bombardier
Charlene Armstrong, Aerothermal Engineer, Bombardier
Johann Muldoon MBE, Director, Manor Architects
The Randox STEM Challenge is aimed at tackling the gender divide and skills gap in the science, technology, engineering and maths industry. On average in the UK women make up just 9% of the engineering workforce. Though Randox is bucking the trend with almost 16% of female engineers, it is still keen to challenge itself to encourage more women to view it as a viable career option.
Click on each Randox STEM initiative below to read more about it.
At Randox we have launched a new returnship scheme which is being supported by the NI Chamber of Commerce. The six-month programme is designed for people who have had a break of two years or more. It will challenge society’s misconceptions surrounding career breaks and support both men and women in restarting their careers.
Providing young women with positive role models is crucial if we are to inspire them to take up a career in science, technology, engineering or maths. That's why Randox has teamed up with other key employers and organisations within Northern Ireland to celebrate the work of STEMinists across the country and share their stories.
Over 50 students from Northern Ireland took part in the first annual ‘STEM Challenge’ hosted at the Randox Science Park. The event, held on International Women in Engineering Day, rounded off a week during which global diagnostics company Randox unveiled a number of initiatives to celebrate and promote women in STEM.
Nerdy scientist by day but all singing all dancing performer by night – is there anything that Tanya McKinty can’t do?
Tanya works in the new state-of-the-art Randox Science Park as an R&D scientist but is also busy preparing for her roles as Lambeth landlady Mrs. Brown and Pearly Queen in the musical comedy ‘Me and My Girl.’
Tanya is performing this evening and the rest of the week (9th – 13th May) in the Grand Opera House and so we wanted to celebrate her talents and hard work with a feature piece on her personal musical story.
Good luck tonight Tanya!
Read on to find out how Tanya balances her scientific career and her passion for performing arts.
Hi Tanya, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started here in Randox?
I joined the company in 1993 after completing my PhD in Physical Chemistry and was involved in the early development work on the Randox biochips. But I have always loved studying so I did a Maths degree part time with the Open University and correspondence courses in spreadsheets, databases and VB programming. Now my official title is Data Analyst and I spend most of my time analysing data and devising problem-solving workbooks and macros for many departments throughout the company.
So how did you get into musical theatre given your strong background in Science and Maths?
I have been performing on stage since I was seven years old. My family was involved in ‘Those Who Care’ (TWC) which was a company set up by Tom McMurtry to provide entertainment to the staff and patients in Muckamore Abbey Hospital. They put on spring revue shows and Christmas pantomimes. I started as a dancer and then as I grew older I gradually began getting more acting roles. My first big acting role was when I was sixteen were I played the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. After that I got involved with some of the amateur companies in Belfast that staged musicals.
I always had a great interest in dance and attended ballet and tap until I was 18. I took jazz, hip hop contemporary and musical theatre dance lessons as well. In 2013 I received my Diploma in Musical Theatre from the London College of Music. Since then I have taken part in a range of different acting workshops and play the piano occasionally. I was always more interested in music theory rather than music practice because I was quite mathematical. I reached grade five in theory and grade four in practice.
What do you do now in terms of acting?
Right now I am preparing to play the roles of Lambeth landlady Mrs. Brown and Pearly Queen in the musical comedy ‘Me and My Girl’. This is with St Agnes’ Choral Society and will take place in the Grand Opera House from the 9th-13th May. We have been rehearsing for past four months for it so I’m really looking forward to showcasing it to a public audience.
Can you tell us a bit about the preparation that has gone into ‘Me and My Girl’?
The early rehearsals involved learning all the music with our musical director. Most of the choral numbers are (at least) four part harmony and it’s important to get that drilled first so that when you start adding movement the harmonies are second nature and you only have to focus on what your feet are doing.
We then started learning the choreographed routines. There are some fast-paced numbers in this show so you really have to build up stamina to sing and dance at the same time. After that we start putting it all together with the dialogue scenes to learn where everything fits into place and when to make entrances and exits.
The week before the show is the most exciting but also the most exhausting. Stage manager, props team, sound and lighting all come along to rehearsals and we have the costume call where we get to see what the costumiers have sent over for us to wear. Then it’s into the Opera House for band call (singing with the full orchestra), tech rehearsal to mark scene changes and identify any technical issues and then dress rehearsal.
How did you get started with St Agnes’ Choral Society?
My friend was choreographing ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ for the company and they were short on dancers so she asked me to come in for the show. Everyone in the company was so friendly and welcoming and there was just a great family feel to it. So I auditioned to officially join the company and I haven’t looked back.
Can you tell us the names of any plays that you have starred in?
To date my two biggest roles have probably been Mrs Meers in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ and Lorraine in ‘Boogie Nights’ which was a 70s musical. I’ve also had roles in ‘42nd Street’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Hairspray’ and ‘9 to 5’ as well as others. My favourite character to play would be the villain or to have a good comedy role. I think Mrs Meers has been one of my favourite characters to play as she is a bit of both.
What has been the highlight of your time in St Agnes’ Choral Society to date?
By far the best highlight for me was being nominated as ‘Best Comedienne’ at the Association of Irish Musical Societies (AIMS). The AIMS has an adjudication scheme which considers all the musicals staged by amateur companies throughout Ireland. In June they have an awards weekend with a ceremony on the Saturday night very much in the style of the Oscars which is very glamorous. In 2011 I got nominated for my role as Mrs Meers. Although I didn’t win I still got an award for the mantelpiece, plus I didn’t have to make any acceptance speech which was a bonus I quite enjoyed.
Are there any upcoming plays happening after ‘Me and My Girl’?
Yes, we put on a show every year so the next one will be next year at some point. We haven’t announced which show yet but when it’s announced I’ll make sure to let you know. We perform an annual show in the Grand Opera House and then have a concert program for the rest of the year.
What do you enjoy most about acting in all of these plays?
I love reading and analysing a script to get an insight into a character. I also love telling a story no matter how complicated it is and experimenting with different ways to bring that character to life. I have worn an enormous fat suit and danced on a table, chased people around the stage with a (fake) shotgun and been the office drunk. But my favourite thing is working together with a team of people to give an audience an experience.
How did you get involved in choreographing shows throughout NI?
I started choreographing for the TWC because I had the most dance experience. I then joined Ulster Operatic and became dance captain (probably because I was the bossiest dancer!) and then started choreographing for them. After that I got approached by different companies to work with them.
What shows have you choreographed?
Lots! My favourites have been 42nd Street, High School Musical (I and II), Little Shop of Horrors, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Sister Act and Sunset Boulevard.
Do you have any other interests/hobbies outside of work?
I love to read if I can find time. My favourite genre would be historical novels.
What led you to pursue a career in science over acting?
I have always been a science geek! I got my first chemistry set when I was 11 and loved puzzles and problem-solving so I was always destined to be a scientist.
How do you manage your time between Randox and rehearsals?
Usually rehearsals are only once or twice a week so it’s not too bad. When we are rehearsing for a show our big rehearsals tend to be at the weekend. It can be exhausting but you get such a buzz from it that it’s worth it.
We’re so proud of Tanya and her commitment and dedication to her musical passion. We know she will do so well in the Grand Opera House this evening and can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Break a leg!
If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out the Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.
Placement student Elena Lazarova who works in Randox Molecular Biology R&D Firfields site explains more about Robogals, a student-run global organisation that aims to inspire more girls to join STEM careers.
Founded in 2008 Robogals has chapters in several continents including Europe, Australia, Africa, and North America. The organization has reached over 50,000 girls aged from 5 to 18 years old and by 2020 aims to inspire over 100,000 girls by running free-of charge engineering and technology workshops in local communities.
“I was first introduced to Robogals when I saw one of their Manchester representatives at the Fresher’s fair at the University of Manchester. The LEGO robot that they had on the stall intrigued me with its simple design and ability to recognise distance thus saying ‘Hello!’ each time someone walked pass it.
As I had studied programming in middle school, I was keen to volunteer and find out more about these robots and the organisation. It turned out that the program behind the robot was mostly visual and not the coding I was used to therefore it was ideal as an introduction to programming. You’d think that a Biotechnology student would be out of place teaching robotics, but on the contrary it is incredibly fun and a good mental exercise. Also coming from a country where more than 30% of engineers are women (Bulgaria), I was surprised at the gender gap in the UK (less than 10% of engineers were women) and am keen to address the issue.
Since being taught how to use the robots I made sure to go to every session the Manchester chapter had, be it at local museums (each year we went to the Museum of Science and Industry’s Science Fair), libraries or schools. My enthusiasm and skill-set led to me being elected President of the Manchester chapter for a year and netted me over a 100 hours of volunteering.
Knowing I would have a placement year, and keen to continue being part of Robogals, I joined the regional Robogals EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) team as a Mentor. My current task is to assist and advice the chapters in the region on topics from volunteer involvement to sponsorship securement.
The last workshop I volunteered at was the Deer Shed Festival in Thirsk, Yorkshire during July 2016. It is a three day family-orientated festival which includes a Science Tent where Robogals Manchester has had a place for four years. It was my second time going to it and we taught over 150 girls and boys how to use our robots which include a LEGO guitar I had built the previous year.
Finishing the Lego guitar project is one of my favourite memories. Contrary to how long people think it took me to build it – it was only four hours. Since then it has become a great attraction and a good way of illustrating how one of the robot sensors works – the ultrasonic/distance sensor. I remember thinking at the festival how many people had brought their daughters to us to ask for advice about engineering pathways. There were also a good number of children who had attended our activity the previous year and wanted to partake again which was great to see as Robogals mission is to inspire, engage and empower young women into engineering and related fields.
Most of my activities so far as a Mentor have been online via email or voice chats. But last month I met various chapter executives in the EMEA region (mainly those in the UK) for our annual SINE (Seminars Inducting New Executives) conference. This year it was held in London and hosted by the London chapter at Imperial College London from 10th until 12th February. There I facilitated the activities and did presentations on skills to have and develop as part of Robogals.
These include learning how to program the robots using the LEGO Mindstorms NXT program and developing soft skills such as team work and presenting as well as teaching. During my time on the committee I was able to learn to liaise, organize workshops, event management, and leadership skills. Now as a Mentor I can share my experiences with other members of the organization whilst further developing what I have already learned in my time with Robogals (2.5 years so far).
Currently I am working on next year’s annual conference for the organisation. When I go back for my final year at the University of Manchester, I will definitely be going to workshops planned by the chapter there. Each time I’ve been to a workshop, I’ve always enjoyed how amazed the children are at the robots. Surprisingly, I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be good with children but I am enjoying being able to inspire them and to teach them more about the STEM world.
If you are interested in joining our global team make sure that you check out Randox careers website to see what new opportunities we have for you.
“Have you always known that you wanted to be an Engineer?”
“Is there opportunity for career progression and promotion within Engineering?”
“So you do for the Randox machines what app developers do for smartphones?”
These were just some of the astute and intriguing questions posed by students of Dungannon Integrated College, Drumcree College Portadown, and St Ciaran’s Ballygawley, to our Randox Software Engineer, Ciara Shaw, at Armagh Planetarium’s Ask A Scientist Event on Friday 18th November.
The event took place as part of Science Week 2016, organised by the Science Foundation Ireland, and the day took the format of a Speed Networking session. Students each spent 10 minutes chatting with a scientist, asking them all the questions they’ve ever wanted to know about careers in STEM, and then moved on to the next candidate!
This year the event had a particularly exciting twist – all the scientists involved were women!
Ciara was one of a group of nine women with a career in STEM – science, technology, engineering and maths – who took the time to meet with the students in attendance to chat to them about working in STEM.
As a hard-working and proud engineer, Ciara took the opportunity to inspire young women to take up STEM subjects for their GCSEs and A-Levels.
Currently, only 9% of the UK’s engineering and technology workforce is made up of women, a statistic which Ciara highlighted in her key note speech at the Ask A Scientist event.
Following the event, she commented;
“I’ve always been interested in IT and Engineering and so it surprises me that only 9% of the engineering and technology workforce in the UK is made up of women. I wanted to showcase to the pupils at the Ask A Scientist Event today that working in STEM is an exciting and valid career choice for women as much as it is for men. At Randox alone there are opportunities to work across a wide range of STEM disciplines – software developers and testers, IT support, engineers, research scientists, mathematicians working in finance and accounts…the list goes on. I hope that through today’s event I was able to encourage some pupils to choose to study STEM subjects at school, so that they can aspire to these jobs in their future.”
Chatting to the pupils in their Q&A sessions, Ciara found the pupils had aspirations in abundance.
“One pupil told me they wanted to be an Orthopaedic Surgeon, and another said they were going to be an Architectural Engineer. It was amazing getting the chance to listen to their hopes and plans for the future, and hopefully by answering their questions, helping them get on the path to achieving their goals.”
Joining Ciara at the event were representatives from the CSI Service of the PSNI; Siobhan Stevenson, Head of Collections Care at National Museums Northern Ireland; Kerry, Heather and Sam, Education Support Officers at the Armagh Planeatarium; and a number of PhD students currently carrying out their research at Armagh Observatory, including Eliceth Rojas-Montes, who gave a key note speech on her astronomy research.
Each scientist was able to provide the students with an insight into their line of work, and similarly share their experiences and knowledge with the other scientists!
Juie Shetye, PhD student at Armagh Observatory, said she was delighted to be able learn about different areas of science from the other scientists and engineers.
And Ciara agreed.
“Each area of science is so niche that our areas of work are worlds apart,” she commented.
“It’s been an extremely enjoyable day celebrating the work of Women in STEM and being positive role models for young women considering a job in the STEM industries.”
For more information about this event please contact our PR team via email: email@example.com
For current STEM vacancies at Randox, please visit our Careers website.