I manage a team of 19 specialists
Elizabeth Sykes, Upper Air and Remote Sensing Networks Manager, discusses her career to date.
What do you do and why is it important?
I manage our operational Upper Air and Remote Sensing Networks, which means I’m responsible for the delivery of observations from networks like Weather radar, ATD (lightning detection), Radiosondes, Lidar, and Mode-S (data gathered from aircraft messages). I manage a team of 19 specialists (subject matter experts in specific observing networks) and analysts at Exeter, Edinburgh, Camborne and Lerwick. The work of the team is really important because we make sure that the Observations everyone relies on (either by viewing them directly, as input into forecast models, or climate analysis) are there when they’re needed, to the right levels of quality.
Tell us a bit about your career journey…
I studied Underwater Optics at Plymouth University, before completing a Masters in Satellite Oceanography at Southampton. From there I completed a PhD at Bangor University where I developed algorithms to derive chlorophyll concentrations in coastal waters from satellite data. I joined the Met Office in 2008 as a Foundation Scientist in the Radar R&D team, working on Cyclops (software to control weather radars) and Radarnet (the radar central processing system). Two years later I moved into Operations to become the Weather Radar Specialist. I then spent 18 months as a Strategic Analyst in the Plans and Performance team, working with the Executive and Senior Managers to develop the Met Office Corporate Plan. I moved back to Observations in 2014 to take up my current post, and have been here ever since!
What’s the best piece of career advice you have received?
I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been given any! But my mantra for myself is ‘Its nice to be nice’. Over the years I’ve learnt the value of building good relationships; and taking time to speak to people makes a huge difference – it makes for a far more pleasant day, and tends to make everything run a lot smoother!
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Managing my team – they’re awesome, and I’m really proud to be their manager. I also love being in Operations – every day is different, and I never know what will happen. It can be anything from a radar getting hit by lightning, to a Radiosonde landing on someone’s roof. The variety of my work also means I get to talk to a lot of people across the office and externally.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
I’m not sure I can come up with a single person! But working with the Executive team (especially the then Chief Exec John Hirst) was really insightful. Senior Managers in Observations are also a great example to me of how to lead and be directive, but also inclusive.