A Day in the Life of a Project Manager with Natalie Kalliga

Natalie Kalliga, Project Manager, Wellcome Sanger Institute
Natalie Kalliga, Project Manager, Wellcome Sanger Institute

Natalie has been working at Sanger Institute since April 2019.

She moved from London to Cambridge for a better quality lifestyle and work/life balance.

Below she shares her experience and role so far:

Tell me about your role at Sanger Institute

I am a project manager looking after the integration of a new Intranet for the whole campus, migration of our corporate website from a Drupal platform to WordPress, as well as web design updates.

The intranet project touches every stakeholder across the Wellcome Genome Campus. It’s a project that everyone is behind. It is going to improve our internal communications, so everyone is invested in it. So far we have been going through a long process to select the best supplier to suit our campus requirements.  The good news is this is now completed and we’re about to start the implementation phase for the next 6 months.

Have you got a science background? 

No, I don’t. As a project manager within the Management Operations area, it’s not a requirement for me to be an expert in science. What is great about being a project manager is working with a range of experts, such as those working in science or IT or Communications on projects. You get to learn so much on each project you work on. My background is in digital products, which has enabled me to transfer my knowledge to the projects I am currently working on.

Why did you apply to Sanger Institute?

For a number of reasons, but a key factor was because I wanted to create a better balance with work and my daughter. My previous role was in London, and knowing the expectations of the industry,  I realised I wasn’t going to be able to have a career within this sector and have time to spend with my daughter. I started to look in this area, and came across my current role. Aside from the fact that the role itself was just what I was looking for, it was also commutable, easy to get to and I noticed it had an onsite nursery too! Having a young family, these factors were really important to me, and are often not available – so it felt like a dream come true!

When I applied, I thought they wouldn’t see past my existing experience in a different field, but they did. When discussing the work/life balance I wanted to achieve, it was made clear that I was in complete control of what hours I could work. We had a very open conversation and the language that was used around flexible working was exactly what I had been looking for. I knew that I could achieve a good balance both being a parent at home and a project manager at Sanger Institute.

Tell me about your day from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to bed

My daughter is my alarm, she’s the one that wakes us up every day! We both get ready and have our breakfast together. We have about an hour and a half in the morning before we have to leave at 7h40. I arrive at the site just after 8h00, and walk my daughter 200 m from the car park to the nursery. It’s our last moment with each other before I drop her off for the day. Then I walk to the Sulston building where my office is for about 8h30.

I generally have between 5 and 7 meetings during the day. I pack in all the conversations I need to have into my work day between 8h30 and 16h30. After I finish around 16h30, I pick up my daughter and get home for 17h15. I then start work again as soon as my husband comes home at 18h00 and work until 20h00, where I carry out follow-up tasks and work from that day.

Explain your hours 

I work condensed hours. I do 5 days’ work in 4 days. On my work days, Monday to Thursday, I work 8h30 to 16h30 and then 18h00 to 20h00 after spending time with my daughter. It works for my family unit as it’s a choice that I made. My manager is happy as long as I am happy. Having the choice is more empowering than being told what hours I have to work.

Do you feel like you have found a balance? 

I definitely feel like I have achieved a good balance between being a parent at home and a project manager at Sanger Institute. I also feel embedded into the institute even though I have Fridays off. I am fortunate to have 3 days off with my daughter.

What do you like most about working at Sanger?

I feel trusted and empowered in my role to take responsibility for running my projects. I have not felt like a duck out of water and it doesn’t feel alien to be here.

It may sound silly but I like the fact that I can drive to work and park there, without any worries. In my previous role, I had to rely on trains to commute. Though there are many options to get here with train, bus, car and bike- you have a choice! The onsite nursery is great too.