“The flexibility offered by SIB is quite unique”: find out more on the themes of learning and development at the institute and meet Monique Zahn, at SIB since 2012 and who recently took on a new role as Biodata Resources Support Manager, in addition to her role as Training Manager.
Congratulations on your new role, Monique! Tell us a bit about your career path at SIB.
I first joined the SIB CALIPHO group in Geneva as part of the BNF unemployment program, where I was Quality Manager for almost 11 years. When my full-time position became a part-time position, I joined the Comparative Genomics group in Lausanne for 6 months. When the position of SIB Training Manager in Lausanne was advertised, I jumped at the opportunity. In the meantime, I had started working on an Outreach project. So, at some point, I juggled between a part-time position in Geneva, and another one in Lausanne, as well as the LightofEvolution project [see picture below]. I recently started working part-time (50%) in the Biodata Resources team (with Séverine Duvaud) in Lausanne as Support Manager, all the while continuing my work in the Training and Outreach teams.
What motivated you to join the Biodata Resources team?
As Quality Manager at neXtProt, I was responsible for the quality of a single resource. As Biodata Resources Support Manager, I now assist all of the SIB Resources on their kaizen journey [i.e. continuous improvement]. This is not only a natural step forward in my career, but metaphorically speaking, I have gone from being part of a team that looks after a rose to working with diverse teams of gardeners.
Can you tell us more about the role of the Biodata Resources team?
We focus on the coordination of the infrastructure portfolio developed by the institute. Our mission is to coordinate their selection process at SIB as well as at the European and worldwide level, to monitor their key metrics and to bring added value to the resources in terms of usability and resources' best practices. We also act as the entry point to all support functions at SIB for these resources, from communications to finance and grant support.
What project motivates you most right now in your new role?
I am assessing the FAIRness of the SIB resources – in other words, I am trying to determine whether the resources that the SIB supports are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. I find this project motivating as these criteria, as well as their quality and usefulness, of course, are the foundations on which important bioinformatic resources are built.
What do you particularly like at SIB?
SIB offers a wide variety of positions – this has made it possible for me to follow a non-linear career path. The flexibility offered by SIB is quite unique – I'm not sure another employer would have agreed for me to be working on three very different aspects of bioinformatics at the same time. The institute also fosters interactions between employees, something I very much appreciate.
What is SIB doing particularly well and what could be improved to promote women in scientific careers?
Over the years, I have observed that there are more Group Leaders who are women, that women are being promoted to positions with more responsibilities, and that there is more news highlighting women and the projects they are working on at SIB. I am also pleased to see that SIB Training fosters diversity and equity among the participants in SIB courses and that the Outreach team is active in promoting women in scientific careers. As to what else could be done to promote women in scientific careers, that’s a question for all of us.
Anything else you would like to mention?
My association with SIB, first as a member, then as an employee, extends over 23 years and I am impressed by how the institute has evolved. I look forward to seeing how SIB, and science in general, will develop in the future.