Celebrating the women bringing about positive change in business, science, meteorology and technology
To mark International Women's Day (IWD) 2018 on 8 March and the theme #PressforProgress, we are highlighting just a small selection of the inspiring women working across a wide range of professions at the Met Office. You can also read about more of our female scientists in a blog post from our Chief Scientist.
Sarah Johnson, Head of Stakeholder Affairs
Sarah has been named as one of Exeter's 100 most influential women in 2018. Hear Sarah talk about her role, who has inspired her and her thoughts for the future.
Nic Bellingham, Head of IT Infrastructure and Operations
Nic joined the Met Office as a graduate in 1992 with a degree in Maths & Computer Science. Having spent her first three months working in the personnel department and the next nine months on maternity leave, she then returned to work part time. From that point in her career Nic has worked in a range of IT-focused roles, from developing mainframe and PC applications providing services for media and marine customers to supporting our public website. About six years ago, by which point Nic was working full time, she became IT Manager for Applications, a job that she particularly enjoyed. As well as working with some great people in delivering services for our customers, Nic gained valuable knowledge of working with external suppliers, of producing and managing budgets and of being the person making decisions in fast-moving situations. This gave her the experience she needed to take the next step, into the role of Deputy Head of IT Infrastructure & Operations with day-to-day responsibility for all of our IT services.
Just under a year ago Nic took the next step up into her current role as Head of IT Infrastructure & Operations. She now leads the delivery of Met Office IT estate and associated services. This includes our on-premises supercomputer, our cloud-hosted data services and everything in between.
Catherine Burnett, Space Weather Programme Manager
Catherine has been Met Office Space Weather Programme Manager since 2013. She is responsible for co-ordinating the development and delivery of operational space weather services utilising her background in space physics, project and programme management.
Her role includes increasing the understanding of space weather amongst UK government, critical infrastructure providers and members of the public, translating their requirements into services and ensuring Met Office Space Weather forecasters have the tools needed to deliver those services. She has supported socio-economic studies into the impact of space weather on the UK, and has devised and run space weather preparedness exercises.
Catherine represents the UK Regional Warning Centre within the International Space Environment Service and she works with international partners to support the improvement of space weather forecasting, with work currently focused on the introduction of additional satellites to improve observations and scientific understanding of the sun.
The Met Office is the national weather service in the UK and owns the space weather risk on behalf of the UK government. It is also a Regional Warning Centre within the International Space Environment Service.
Rachel Prudden, Informatics Lab Scientist
Rachel is a mathematician turned coder, now working towards a PhD in the intersection of meteorology and machine learning. For the past couple of years she has been part of the Informatics Lab, a multidisciplinary team who explore new ways to make Met Office data useful. The work of the Informatics Lab covers a broad range, including 4D-visualisation, speech interfaces, and distributed processing of large datasets.
At the moment, Rachel’s main research focus is how to extract as much information as possible from the output of numerical weather models. The aim of this is to try to find ways to overcome the limits of lower resolution forecast models in order to improve accuracy and detail in final forecasts.
Annette Sercombe, Business Group Security Architect
Annette has been at the Met Office for over 10 years. She is the only Security Architect in Met Office Business Group who has the responsibility of transitioning the Met Office commercial estate using an innovative delivery mechanism and a new cloud based architecture. She is solely responsible for managing the security requirements in the change programme, providing advice and guidance to the Senior Leadership Team and ensuring that they are informed about the risk of delivery from a security perspective.
In her previous role, Annette designed and implemented new and innovative approaches to Cyber Security and represented the Met Office at Big Data Analytics (White Hall Media 2015) on the use of analysing large data sets to deliver actionable security intelligence for the business.
She is on the external advisory panel for Computing at Plymouth University and was a keynote speaker at the Women in STEM Symposium in 2016.
Tracy Small – International Development Business Manager
Having joined British Airways as a Management Trainee, Tracy joined their procurement team, rising to the position of Senior Buyer for IT and Telecoms in just 3 years. She left to join British Telecom as a Commercial Manager, moving to Paris a few years later as Controller for Commercial Contracts Europe. At a time of deregulation in the telecoms market, BT was quickly expanding its international presence and Tracy recruited a 20-strong team of (mainly) lawyers in seven countries in just under two years. Tracy then left BT to move back down to Devon with her family and work on her own business. After a short spell at Bicton College as the Commercial Manager, she joined the Met Office over seven years ago.
In Tracy’s role as International Development Business Manager, she has most recently been involved in the SCIPEA (Strengthening Climate Information Partnerships - East Africa) project as part of the DFID-funded WISER (Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa) programme of work. Her role has been to project manage the business contributions from up to 21 partners including the highly-regarded Colombia University International Research Institute (IRI), ICPAC (the Greater Horn of Africa regional climate centre), four national meteorological services, ten user organisations and five East African academic institutions.
Dr Emily Wallace, Energy Science Manager
As Energy Science Manager Emily led a new science team focussed exclusively on applications of Met Office science within the energy industry. This brought together a wide range of expertise under one roof into a highly driven team. She recalls her best moments as making use of cutting-edge science within the nuclear industry, instigating projects which not only pushed the boundaries of science within the Met Office but also created significant socio-economic value within the UK.
In addition to her role as Energy Science Manager, Emily was previously Chair of the Met Office Gender Balance Group. She was responsible for developing an action plan of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Expert Panel on Gender Equality influencing policy for meteorological services around the world, as well as the WMO. Emily has also initiated a series of progression workshops to improve transparency for applicants for science progression, and encourage selection for progression based on professional competence.
Emily has recently returned to work from maternity leave following the birth of her first child. She now works part time, sharing childcare responsibilities with her husband.
Dr Helen Wells, Group Leader for Science and Meteorology
In her current role as Group Leader for Science and Meteorology, Helen leads a team of around 70 operational weather forecasters and scientists who are involved in the development and delivery of Met Office services to industry. She is working closely with her team to transform the way in which we integrate our science and operational meteorology into our industry services ensuring that our services use the world-leading capability and skills of the Met Office in weather and climate.
Helen began her career at the Met Office in 2002 as a graduate scientist working on modelling flow over mountains. The Met Office sponsored her to work on a PhD with the University of Leeds which she completed in 2007. In 2010 she began working part-time and subsequently moved to the aviation applications science team as Science Manager developing new science in support of air traffic control, airlines and airports. After a year of maternity leave, she returned to work as head of applied weather science, leading a team of 45 scientists to develop services for various sectors including defence, aviation and energy. She moved into her current role in 2016.
*In addition to the above profiles, the photograph at the top of the page shows just a few of our inspiring women who play vital roles in ensuring the development, delivery and communication of our products and services.