Dr Tzany Wheldon named in 2020 Timewise Power 50 awards

Dr Wheldon, who is a Reader in nuclear physics and Director of the University of Birmingham’s Positron Imaging Centre, has been named in the 2020 Timewise Power 50 awards: a roll call of 50 powerful executives in the UK who also work part-time or flexibly.

What it means to you to win the 2020 Timewise Power Award?

Dr Tzany Kokalova WheldonTen years ago I was struggling to find a route to return to a career in research after a three-year break and now I am proud to be named one of the TimeWise Power50 winners.  This award is a huge deal for me, it means that hard work pays off, but smart, flexible work pays off even more.  It means, that over the last ten years we have moved forwards, even if only incrementally, to a more open and less stereotypical view of successful leadership.

How has flexible working helped your career?

Flexible work has been a lifesaver for me at two distinct points in my career. After returning from a career break to raise a family, 50 per cent working enabled me to do all the things I love - looking after my family and returning to research.

The University of Birmingham and the Daphne Jackson Trust were great at facilitating this. More recently, the hospitalisation of one of my twin boys left me in a situation where full-time working wasn't an option at all. Flexible working has allowed changes in circumstances to be taken into account and continued career progression.

The University made things so much easier for me, and given the pressure I felt I was under, this was a lifesaver.  Life happens, in spite of plans, and flexible working gave me the freedom to look after my son and continue doing my job.

Why is flexible working important?

In our modern world everything is moving so fast it often feels like there is no space for a personal life. Trying to be superhuman for too long is like a disaster waiting to happen. This is a significant underlying cause for mental health issues and is particularly acute with women who often bear the brunt of caring responsibilities along with a difficult personal transition when it comes to the menopause. Allowing men and women to work flexibly, depending on their current needs, is critical to ensuring well-balanced, happy and creative individuals.