Junior Project Manager - Layla Mirmalek
18 Feb 2021



Layla Mirmalek is a project manager in the Scientific Computing Department, who helps to make innovative ideas become reality.

Layla headshot

​I come from a family of scientists on my father's side and my brother is a scientist. My aptitude was more for the creative, but I have always been fascinated by science and technology.

At School I took GCSEs in Maths, Technology and Science and particularly enjoyed Chemistry and Biology but wasn't so keen on Physics. I am more interested in the Humanities and Arts, and this is what I am a natural at. But that's what is great about STFC; it employs a diverse staff!

I earned my BA Hons degree at Portsmouth University where I studied English and Creative Studies and had the chance to immerse myself in Shakespeare and stage work. After graduation I attended Cardiff University and completed my MA in the Teaching and Practice of Writing. As part of this postgraduate course I had the opportunity to teach students and produce a lot of written material. 

My writing skills have been very useful for this job because I write a lot of process documents!

I actually heard about STFC through a very keen recruitment company, who told me it was a great place to work.

I started as a contractor and once a permanent opportunity arose, I was very quick to apply, becoming a permanent member of staff in October 2018. In fact, some of the panel who grilled me during my interview I work very closely with today!

My current role at STFC is as a Junior Project Manager in the Scientific Computing Department's Project Management Office (PMO), providing support and looking after H2020 Projects. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). We are now moving into the next Research Framework – Horizon Europe, which will see us continuing our excellent research under slightly different rules.

I work closely with the PMO Group Leader in creating a Project Management 'Centre of Excellence' and this element gives me a chance to utilise my writing skills. I am focusing on creating case studies, producing interesting reports. One new feature we have is encouraging staff to bring us their ideas and then I can develop a feasibility study to see if we can bring it to fruition. We are always looking at ways to improve things and make our processes more efficient.

I would say the best part of my role is the variety of work and the innovative people I get to liaise with. There's an atmosphere of fostering ideas and encouraging innovation, so I always feel welcomed when bringing solutions forward. I appreciate that STFC is focused on progressing your development as an individual, and already I have been able to successfully complete the APM Chartered Institute's Project Fundamentals Qualification course.

I think the most challenging element of this work is making sure the right communication gets out to those who need it. This is a big organisation and a lot of people are part of the 'spinning plates' that keep things moving.

I have really enjoyed the international side of the work as well, having travelled to Madrid for the West-life project, a virtual research environment for structural biology. The opportunity to travel with work is exciting and I met some very interesting people on that trip.

Outside of work I am passionate about films, art and theatre. In my spare time I am a judge for an Oxford film festival and have had the opportunity to interview some really wonderful film industry figures. 

Contact: Dodman, Hal (STFC,RAL,SC)