Dr Samantha Johnson

Dr Samantha Johnson, Senior Research Fellow, Health Sciences

Dr Samantha JohnsonDuring my previous employment as a Lecturer at UCL, I had my first baby in 2009. Whilst on maternity leave, I was invited to attend an interview for a Research Fellow post at the Department of Health Sciences. My son was 6 months old and, when I was appointed, it was agreed that I could start my new post in line with my initial plans for returning to work. My simultaneous return to work and to a new post was therefore a very positive experience as the Department accommodated my planned maternity and childcare arrangements.
Later that year, I became pregnant with my second baby. Arranging maternity leave was facilitated by the excellent one-to-one support offered by the Department and my manager was very supportive and suggested I work flexibly and from home whenever appropriate. My husband and I decided that he would take Advanced Paternity Leave so I could return to work full-time after 6 months of leave. This process was managed seamlessly by the Department and proved to be an excellent choice for our family and my career. In addition, my manager secured NIHR Research Capability Funding for maternity leave cover for my post. This was instrumental in helping my team keep up with study commitments and made me feel comfortable knowing that essential elements of my work were being completed whilst I was off. It has been challenging juggling the demands of a career and two young children, but I feel hugely supported by my team. Meetings are arranged at times which are convenient for childcare and I am able to work flexibly or at home which has improved my home/work life balance immeasurably.
My experience of the Department in relation to the management of research staff has been very positive indeed. The Research Staff Advisory Group (RSAG) is one of the Department’s strengths as it provides a forum for research staff to seek and share advice relating to personal and professional development. Through RSAG I became aware of the Concordat and the Athena Swan Initiative, and advice offered by RSAG facilitated my transfer to an open-ended contract; this was pivotal for my career enabling me to be an investigator on several awards from the NIHR and partner organisations.

My team has a strong background of developing the careers of research staff. After only a year they recommended me for promotion to Senior Research Fellow. I was invited to attend an interview whilst on maternity leave and my baby was just 6 weeks old. The university offered to delay my interview but I was keen to attend, so the interview was scheduled at a time convenient for me and breast feeding facilities were provided. I was delighted to be told that I had been promoted despite attending the interview in a state of sleep deprivation! Rather than feeling that maternity leave may have hindered my career progression, I had never felt more valued as an academic and member of the Department. All in all, in the short time I have been a member of the Department, my personal and professional development has progressed immensely and I have felt highly valued and supported in all my endeavours.

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Contact Details

College of Life Sciences
University of Leicester
Maurice Shock Building
University Road