Kent People: Paul Sinnock, Head of Technical Services

When did you join the University and why?

I joined Kent in 2005 as an IT Technician in the Department of Electronics (now the School of Engineering and Digital Arts). This was an exciting opportunity to support staff and students in a very technically demanding department, which was actively pushing boundaries in its research and teaching. I worked alongside some excellent IT colleagues, as well as subject technicians, who were experts in their fields. I later took up the role of IT Team Manager, before becoming IT and Technical Services Manager and then Director of IT and Technical Services. After a 15-year career providing technical support to students and staff, I am thrilled to be taking up the role of Head of Technical Services leading the profession here at Kent.

What did you do before joining Kent?

I completed my undergraduate degree in 2001 and worked for a large pharmaceutical company supporting their IT systems and staff across the UK. After two years, I made the switch to higher education, becoming an IT user support specialist at Imperial College London. I had always remembered how technical staff had been pivotal in supporting myself and other students during university. They were the unsung heroes who were always on hand when you needed help.

Why has your new role been created and what’s its remit?

My new role has come about following the University’s pledge to support the national Technician Commitment, a sector-wide initiative led by the Science Council to help address key challenges facing technical staff working in higher education. Universities and institutions who sign-up to the commitment agree to improve and safeguard vital technical skills. The commitment ensures greater visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines. My role will lead this work and ensure these principles remain embedded here at Kent. My vision is to build on the already exceptional work undertaken by technical colleagues throughout the University. Our aim is to deliver a truly customer-focused, innovative and professional technical service by highly skilled, diverse technical experts, utilising leading technology, equipment and facilities, to provide the very best experience to our students and staff.

Tell us more about who’s who within your team?

I am fortunate to work with some exceptionally talented colleagues at Kent. Technical service staff operate across almost all our subject areas, from science and laboratories to arts and theatres. I will be working closely with divisional and departmental Technical Managers to deliver that positive change and to support the University’s strategic ambitions. I am also working closely with colleagues in other professional service departments, including IS, Estates and the Safety, Health and Environment Unit. By continuing the collaboration of technical staff and professional service teams, we can create a consistent experience for our students and colleagues.

What are your immediate plans for the new team?

Over the next 12 months, I will be working with colleagues to produce the first technical service strategy. This will include our Technician Commitment action plan and a three-year roadmap that delivers against the principles of technician visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability. I will also be working closely with technical managers and divisional management teams to support the transition to the new divisional structure, and wider collaboration of technical services within and across divisions.

Covid-19 permitting(!), what are your interests away from work?

I love spending time at the beach with my wife and our two children. I also enjoy cycling and keeping active. When the weather’s not great, you’ll find me doing some form of DIY. My latest project is using my Amazon Alexa to automate the lighting in my house – much to my wife’s frustration who, rightfully so, doesn’t see the problem with a traditional light switch! I guess once a technician always a technician…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I have been given was from my Dad (which he borrowed from someone more famous): “The harder you work, the luckier you become.”