Tzany Kokalova Wheldon

A University of Birmingham nuclear physicist has been named in the 2020 Timewise Power 50 Awards: a roll call of 50 powerful executives in the UK - who all happen to work part-time or flexibly.

The Awards have been compiled by Timewise, a flexible working consultancy and multi-award winning social business, following a nationwide search.

The Timewise Power 50 provides a snapshot of what modern work in Britain is like and challenges the belief part-time work cannot mean ambitious, highly successful nor senior.

The initiative also aims to inspire employers across the country with stellar examples of how flexible working can and should work – by providing trailblazing role models.

Timewise Co-founders Karen Mattison MBE and Emma Stewart MBE publish a new list annually in order to prove what’s possible when you work part time or flexibly.

This year, Dr Tzany Kokalova Wheldon, a Reader in Nuclear Physics at the University of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, has been honoured in the awards.

After a three-and-a-half-year career break to care for her twin boys and relocate the family from Germany to the UK, Dr Wheldon returned to research as a Daphne Jackson Fellow in 2011.

Hosted at the University of Birmingham and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, a Daphne Jackson Fellowship enabled her to return to her career in science and she currently works 80% of full time hours.

Today, Dr Wheldon’s work spans the full breadth of nuclear physics from experimental nuclear astrophysics and machine learning, to medical isotopes, applications and industry-related nuclear decommissioning. She carries out research, teaches, and supervises eight PhD students, and has key roles mentoring women.

Dr Wheldon, who is a Reader in nuclear physics and Director of the University of Birmingham’s Positron Imaging Centre, said: “Flexible work has been a lifesaver for me at two distinct points in my career. It enabled me to take a career break to raise my family, but more recently it enabled me to take time to look after my son during a serious illness. The University of Birmingham and the Daphne Jackson Trust were great at facilitating my need to be flexible. Life happens, in spite of plans and I’m fortunate to have had the freedom to look after my son and continue doing my job.”

The University’s flexible working scheme offers a range of benefits designed to help staff achieve a better balance between family and work responsibilities. Options available include part-time work, job sharing, term-time only working, flexi-time and compressed hours. The University provides discounts on childcare and has three day nurseries. It also offers maternity, paternity, shared parental and adoption leave, as well as 13 weeks parental leave for those with children under five.

More recent initiatives have also included a staff volunteering allowance, which enable staff to devote one day per year to a local volunteering activity.

Professor Joanne Duberley, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion)  at the University of Birmingham said: “Congratulations to Dr Wheldon on winning this award. The University’s flexible working scheme is designed to support staff who juggle complex commitments and it’s great to see such a positive example of the scheme in action.”

The public nominated hundreds of people for the awards, and a panel of judges compiled a list of the 50 deemed to be the most outstanding. The list is not ranked or numbered in any way.

The judges included Katie Bickerstaffe, Non-Executive Director of Marks & Spencer; Sophie Cornish, co-founder of; BBC journalist and presenter Sally Bundock; and Diageo’s HR Director for Great Britain Elke Noels.

Timewise co-founder and judge Karen Mattison MBE said: “Success doesn’t come in one shape or size.

“With nine in 10 people wanting or needing flexibility in their next job, it is vital we find and showcase modern day role models to aspire to.

“Tzany is blazing a trail in Higher Education and research, all whilst working part-time or flexibly.

“She is achieving serious success, not only proving that it can be done – but how.

“The Timewise Power 50 exists to award innovation like this. Every person who tells their story openly, helps to make change happen. ”

The awards have been backed by EY, Dixons Carphone, Lloyds Banking Group and Diageo.

For media enquiries please contact the University of Birmingham Press Office, tel: +44 (0)121 414 2772.

For media enquiries about the Daphne Jackson Trust, please contact Catherine Barber Communications Manager tel: +44 (0)1483 689 162.

  • About the University of Birmingham
    The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  •  About the Timewise Power 50 Awards
    The Timewise Power 50 Awards a roll-call of 50 individuals who work part-time and flexibly in top jobs, with a spotlight on employers that are exceptional at innovation in flexible job design and/or flexible hiring. The awards were set up to challenge people’s perceptions around what a part-time job is, or can be, and on what flexible workers can achieve.

    The judges were tasked with building a distinct list of 50 individuals or pairs of people who demonstrate significant achievement as flexible workers in the broadest sense - from those succeeding in part-time hours or as a job-share team, returning to the workplace after a significant career break, through to those who have used their own start-up status to determine their own flexibility.
  • About Timewise
    Timewise is a flexible working consultancy that helps employers design innovative solutions to attract and retain talented people, and create fair workplaces.  The consultancy is part of a wider multi-award winning social business, that shares market insights on flexible working and flexible hiring, conducts research such as the annual Flexible Jobs Index and runs campaigns and advocates for change on the stigma surrounding part-time and flexible work. It also runs Timewise Jobs, a national jobs board for roles that are part-time or open to flexibility.  Timewise is led by award-winning founders and Joint CEOs, Karen Mattison and Emma Stewart. They have been listed as two of the UK’s leading radical thinkers by the Observer newspaper and Nesta; named ‘Small Business Heroes’ by Management Today magazine and ‘two of the key social entrepreneurs to watch’ by Real Business magazine; and are winners of the Institute of Directors’ Women Changing the Business World award, following nominations from the UK public. In 2010 they were made MBEs for their services to social enterprise.
  • About the Daphne Jackson Trust
    The Daphne Jackson Trust is the UK’s leading and only charity dedicated to realising the potential of returners to research after career breaks for family, caring or health reasons. 

    Daphne Jackson Fellowships offer individuals the opportunity to work on a research project on a part-time, flexible and salaried basis in universities and research institutes across the UK. The Daphne Jackson Trust was established in 1992 in memory of Professor Daphne Jackson, the UK’s first female Professor of Physics and a lifelong campaigner for women in STEM careers. The Daphne Jackson Trust is based in the Department of Physics at the University of Surrey.