The University of Southampton

Working here

Paul Lewin, Head of ECS

Message from Paul Lewin, Head of ECS

"I joined the University as a Lecturer in 1989 and like many of my colleagues have remained here ever since. This is not due to idleness on my part or lack of opportunity, but more because, at every stage of my career, ECS and the University have been supportive and proactive in ensuring that I can achieve my personal goals. Over a career, there are always going to be periods when you spend more time at work than with family and each of us needs to ensure that this is balanced. However, this is made far easier when working in an environment where colleagues are prepared to help and support you in times of need and where many are friends rather than associates. ECS is such a place.

ECS was awarded an Athena Swan Bronze award in April 2020

"We have been proactive in ensuring that we have a good working environment, not just in terms of well-equipped laboratories but also in the provision of facilities such as a Quiet Room, organisation of wellbeing activities and a comprehensive mentoring scheme. This page provides further detail and, I hope, demonstrates that we are a caring community where, if you choose to join us, you can thrive."

Community

There is a strong sense of community in ECS. We have created an environment that has inspired an extraordinary level of achievement. ECS is one of the world’s largest and most successful electronics and computer science schools.

There are eleven research groups in ECS:

Agents, Interaction and Complexity (AIC) Biomedical Electronics (BE) Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) Cyber Security (CYBER)
Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) Next Generation Wireless (NGW) Smart Electronic Materials and Systems (SEMS) Sustainable Electronic Technologies (SET)
The IT Innovation Centre (IT INNOVATION) Vision, Learning and Control (VLC) Web and Internet Science (WAIS)  

Each research group has developed its own unique programme of events including seminars, away days, coffee mornings and team building activities.

Numerous events and initiatives bring the whole School together. They include an ECS Staff Lunch, lecture series, an annual Away Day, an annual Professor Geoffrey Sims Lecture, an annual Diversity Talk, wellbeing initiatives and staff parties.

ECS puts a lot of emphasis on supporting female staff and students. A forum for female staff in ECS, known as The Campbell Group, was established in February 2019. Meetings are held monthly to support female colleagues in their career and to improve their working environment.

ECS was awarded an Athena Swan Bronze Award in April 2020 and is currently implementing an Action Plan to further improve gender equality. We plan to apply for a Silver Award in the near future.  

Equality, diversity and inclusion is at the centre of everything that we do in ECS. We are determined in our commitment to provide a supportive environment in which we value differences, respect diversity and treat each other with equality and respect. We collaboratively preserve a community in which positive working relationships are formed and everyone feels valued, encouraged and supported. In 2019 we developed a Code of Conduct, an email etiquette and a policy for email communication between students and staff.

We promote work-life balance. In 2014, we introduced core hours and we refrain from holding meetings before 10:00, after 16:00 and during lunch hours (12:00-14:00).

The ECS Mentoring Scheme was established in September 2017 to provide support for staff at all levels and in all job families. The scheme is led by the Senior Mentor, Professor Neil White. We celebrate International Mentoring Day every year. 

In May 2019, the first issue of the ECS monthly newsletter was distributed to staff. It is very popular with staff who happily share information for inclusion.

The ECS School mascot is called EcCleS.

Mentoring

Since September 2017, ECS has run a unique mentoring scheme. The role of mentoring is to help guide individuals through life transitions as their career progresses. There are more than 40 mentors who are ready to help. Mentoring is confidential. It is available and relevant to every individual in ECS, irrespective of their level of seniority and job family. Feedback about the scheme from our 2019 Staff Culture Survey was overwhelmingly positive.

Staff can receive advice and support in the following areas:

Administrative processes

Bullying, conflict, harassment, grievance

Career progression

Education

Enterprise

Fellowships

Finance

Life changes

Outreach

Research

There is also specialist support for technical staff. 

International Mentoring Day is celebrated annually in ECS.

The initiative is led by Senior Mentor, Professor Neil White. To learn more about mentoring in ECS, contact Neil on nmw@ecs.soton.ac.uk.

Professional development

The University offers a wide range of development opportunities.

Since 2017, ECS have run annual Promotion Workshops for staff, which prove extremely popular. They offer guidelines for staff on how to plan their career and what to focus on when applying for promotion. The workshop was introduced by Dorota A. Sikorska, Executive Officer, who runs the workshop in collaboration with Professor Paul Lewin, Head of ECS and Professor Neil White, ECS Senior Mentor. Since 2019, there is a special session exclusively for women staff.

ECS has offered a range of training courses for staff and students to complement university provision since August 2018. Courses have been sourced by Professor Neil White and Dorota A. Sikorska. In 2019, ECS introduced Education Induction for teaching staff, which is run by Professor Paolo Rapisarda, Deputy Head of School for Education. General Induction and Research Induction sessions are being developed and will be introduced over the course of the 2020-2021 academic year. To find out more about professional development opportunities in ECS, contact Neil (nmw@ecs.soton.ac.uk) or Dorota (dask1n11@soton.ac.uk).

Support for female staff

The Campbell Group - female staff in ECS

The Campbell Group, a forum for female staff in ECS, was established in February 2019. Meetings are held monthly. There are also separate special sessions with distinguished women speakers, mentors and role models. The Campbell Group is available and relevant to every woman in ECS, irrespective of their level of seniority and job family. 

The Campbell Group was set up to: 

  • discuss matters of importance to female staff in ECS
  • raise mutual concerns
  • generate ideas on how to improve the working environment for all staff in ECS
  • offer support to women staff
  • provide advice and give collective opinion on processes, strategy and initiatives from a female perspective
  • propose solutions
  • share information on emerging opportunities and risks.

The group helps inform the strategy of ECS and has come up with numerous recommendations so far, including the introduction of a monthly newsletter to improve internal communication, development of an ECS Induction Programme to offer better support for new joiners and the appointment of Wellbeing Champions. The group is led by Dorota A. Sikorska, Executive Officer. To learn more about the Campbell Group, contact Dorota on dask1n11@soton.ac.uk.

ECS Quiet Room

The ECS Quiet Room was designed to support ECS staff and PhD students who are:

  • expectant mothers who suffer from pregnancy related conditions or discomfort like swollen legs, back pain etc.
  • mothers who breastfeed their babies or express milk
  • parents who feed their babies with a bottle
  • managing a condition that requires privacy (diabetes etc.) – it does not include chronic fatigue, narcolepsy, stress or depression, as they require individual adjustments as agreed with the line manager and Occupational Health

Comfortable furniture is available to provide a homely environment. This includes a power recliner and a nursing pillow. A fridge is provided for storing milk and formula. There is also a bottle warmer, and an emergency phone is available.

Access is granted by administrators. The request can be made directly or via a line manager, Executive Officer, Senior Mentor, a mentor listed under the Life Changes category, the Head of ECS or by a trusted colleague.

Wellbeing

ECS appointed two Wellbeing Champions in May 2019 to support staff wellbeing.

Professor Michael Ng offers monthly Tai Chi sessions. Professor Ng is an Associate Professor in the Next Generation Wireless research group. He is a member of the Chinese Association of Southampton, as well as a professional Tai Chi and Kung Fu coach.

Professor mc schraefel offers Wellbeing Workshops that promote a healthy lifestyle and provide useful advice on healthy eating, exercising and sleep. Professor schraefel is a Professor in Computer Science and Human Performance in the Agents, Interactions and Complexity research group. She is also Director of the wellthLab, a certified nutritionist, a functional neurologist and a strength and conditioning coach.

ECS also provides colouring pages and pencils for staff and PhD students in their communal spaces.

To learn more about wellbeing in ECS, contact Dorota A. Sikorska on dask1n11@soton.ac.uk.

Support for families

Tax-free childcare

Tax-free childcare was introduced by the government in 2017 to help working parents with the cost of childcare. Tax-free childcare is available to working parents, including the self-employed. To be eligible, parents (and their partners, if they have one) must earn at least the equivalent of 16 hours per week at the national minimum wage, have an eligible child (under 12, or 17 if disabled) and earn under £100,000 each per year. Full details

Early Years Centre

The Early Years Centre provides high quality education and childcare for children aged four months to five years. The Early Years Centre is open from 8am to 6pm for 50 weeks of the year. Full details

Parents and Carers Network

The Parents and Carers Network (P&CN) aims to support the working lives of colleagues who also have off-campus caring responsibilities. Carers include those looking after someone who is unable to care for themselves due to old age or a disability. Full details

Maternity leave and pay

Eligible mothers are entitled to maternity leave and pay. Full details

Parental leave and shared parental leave

All University staff who have been continuously employed with us for 12 months are entitled to parental leave, subject to certain conditions, which are outlined in our parental leave policies. Shared parental leave enables eligible mothers, fathers, partners and adopters to choose how to share time off work after their child is born or placed for adoption. This could involve returning to work for part of the time and then resuming leave at a later date. Full details

Paternity leave

University staff whose partner is having a baby or are adopting a child together might be eligible for both ordinary paternity leave and up to 50 weeks shared parental leave, subject to certain conditions. Full details

Compassionate and domestic leave

Staff are entitled to up to 4 days of paid compassionate or domestic leave per leave year for dealing with a domestic emergency or a bereavement. The leave year at the University of Southampton runs from 1 October until 30 September the following year. Full details

Extended carers’ leave

Staff who look after a dependant who is recovering from a serious illness or who is terminally ill, or staff who settle a dependant into a care home, are entitled to up to 2 weeks of paid extended carers’ leave per leave year. Full details

Healthcare insurance

AXA PPP healthcare provides university staff with the opportunity to claim 2 months free health insurance for themselves and their family. New joiners receive a £100 M&S gift card. Full details

Dental plan

Bupa’s dental insurance plan covers the cost of a wide range of dental treatment for staff and their families (single, couple, single parent, family and eldercare coverage is available). Full details

LGBT+

ECS is a supportive community. Our calendar of events includes International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

In 2019 the LGBT+ rainbow flag was raised by the Vice-Chancellor. The team responsible for organising the event was a finalist of the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards. In 2020, we have held several virtual events that were enjoyed by staff and students. IDAHOBIT in ECS is led by Dorota A. Sikorska. To learn more about the event, contact Dorota on dask1n11@soton.ac.uk.

ECS staff and students are actively involved in Pulse LGBT+, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans staff network. The network aims to work in partnership with the University of Southampton and other LGBT+ networks to create a safe, inclusive and diverse working environment that encourages respect and equality for all, regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity. All University staff, postgraduate students and Southampton University Students’ Union employees can join the network.

View the full list of University networks and societies 

Athena Swan

ECS was awarded an Athena Swan Bronze Award in April 2020. We are currently in the process of implementing our Athena Swan action plan. Our ambition is to submit for a Silver Award in the near future. We have worked tirelessly to support female staff and students in ECS. Equality, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of everything that we do.

Our ECS Athena Swan self-assessment team is led by Dr Reena Pau. The ECS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee is chaired by Professor Christopher Freeman. To learn more about Athena Swan, contact Reena (r.pau@soton.ac.uk) and for equality, diversity and inclusion at ECS, contact Chris (cf@ecs.soton.ac.uk).

Employee benefits

The University offers a wide range of employee benefits, including, but not limited to:

Tax free childcare Staff discounts Salary sacrifice scheme
Sport and Wellbeing membership Pension Paternity leave
Paternal leave and shared parental leave Maternity leave and pay Health screening
Healthcare insurance Interest-free loan for travel Employee Assistance Programme
Early Years Centre Dental plan Cycle To Work scheme
Generous annual leave allowance and University closure days Compassionate / domestic leave Extended carers’ leave

More information about University benefits

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The ECS quiet room is available to ECS staff and PhD students
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The Professor Geoffrey Sims Lecture is held every year
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The ECS team marking International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT)
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International Mentoring Day 2019
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The Campbell Group is a forum for female ECS staff to discuss matters of importance
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Dr Reena Pau leads the ECS Athena Swan Self-Assessment Team
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Professor Neil White leads the ECS mentoring scheme
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Professor mc schraefel offers Wellbeing Workshops that promote a healthy lifestyle
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Professor Michael Ng offers monthly Tai Chi sessions to support staff wellbeing
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Professor Christopher Freeman chairs the ECS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
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Dorota A. Sikorska is the Executive Officer for ECS and a Chair of The Campbell Group
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The AIC research group Away Day in May 2019
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The Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) research group hold regular coffee mornings
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The Vision, Learning and Control (VLC) research group taking part in a teambuilding event
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The ECS FOS (Faculty Operating Service) team enjoying a picnic
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ECS provides colouring pages and pencils for staff and PhD students in their communal spaces
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EcCleS, the ECS School mascot