Jan 05 2021

Lisa Fell, Department of Electronic Engineering, is a Technical Operations Manager. Lisa has recently taken part in our 'Royal Holloway Technicians' Stories' series, explaining how she came to work in our Department of Electronic Engineering. We recently caught up with Lisa to ask more about her work and what inspired her to become a Technician.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role in the Department of Electronic Engineering?

I have worked at Royal Holloway for 20 years in various departments and roles. When I started in the Department of Economics as the Department Manager I never thought I would be here more than a few years. I became a Faculty Admin Manager, set up the Dept of Criminology and Sociology, became the Head of Student Accommodation and introduced the new software for room bookings, then worked for the Academic Registrar at the time, as a ‘Crisis Manager’ looking after all the academic departments. 

One day I was asked if I minded sharing my office with a new Professor who had joined the College to start a brand new department. David Howard moved in and our working relationship never looked back. David threw me a circuit board and said I bet you can't tell me what’s on there and looked surprised when I named all the components. What very few people knew was I started my working life as a technician for Decca Radar in a thin film microwave production lab – so electronics were in my past. I helped David to set up all the programme documentation and eventually was asked would I set up and run the administration and technical side as a Technical Administration Manager. We moved into the portacabins (John Bowyer) and watched our new building grow from the ground. We took on academic, technical and administrative staff and the department was born. As we grew I made the decision to move from the joint role of technical and administration to look after the technical side and became the Technical Operations Manager.

2. You recently took part in Royal Holloway’s ‘Technician’s Stories’, how was it looking back on your career journey?

Looking back I realise just how far I have come – I have had so many different roles not only here at Royal Holloway over the last 20 years but prior to that. Each part of my career path brought me different challenges and rewards. I come from the generation of women who had to fight hard to be recognised in a very male environment both at Decca and at BP. I ran my own business when my son was young – juggling work and bringing up my child.

3. What do you enjoy most about your current role, and working within the Department of Electronic Engineering?

I love the department, we are like one big family. The academics are wonderful, the tech team are fantastic, we laugh 90% of the time and no one is beyond being told off for taking the last tea bag out of the caddy… or not washing up their own mug. Working with the students is a privilege, it keeps me young at heart and I am so proud of their achievements. Our pioneer cohort graduated last summer and when Covid is over we will be throwing a celebration party as we all missed out on our first graduation ceremony.

4. Outside of work, how do you like to spend your free time?

Some will be very surprised to find out I am a gamer. I played D & D on an early pc attached to a scanning electron microscope back in the late 70’s. When my son was small he sat on my lap and played games with me on the home pc. By the time he went to Uni to study Computer Animation we were playing World of Warcraft. He is now a lead artist at a gaming company and I am still playing games. Besides gaming I have always been into  arts and crafts and have lately taken to Diamond art – mosaic pictures with very tiny squares.

5. What is your favourite thing about working at Royal Holloway?

I don’t think there is on thing in particular I like more than another – I have enjoyed all my roles and love the diversity of the work I have done. The people and the students make the university although the grounds are rather pleasant to work in.