When and why did you join APEM?

I joined almost five years ago because it was a good opportunity to work with a brilliant team. But I had almost joined previously. In 2010 I was offered an interview with APEM but I got a job at a different company before I could attend. Even so, I remained curious about APEM.

How did your career progress?

I moved to the UK in 2008 from Sicily, where I had been freelancing at universities doing marine benthic ecology work for EIA’s. But I wanted a full time job with more security and I knew there were opportunities in the UK.

Within a few months of arriving a job came up, which was great. But I was starting out as an assistant biologist on the bottom rung of the ladder and being from Sicily I had to learn all the North Atlantic fauna. I moved around a bit, working for companies like Unicomarine and MES, before the opportunity came up to join APEM.

I started as part of the team but in 2014 there was an opportunity to go for the lab manager role. Getting that job has led to more and more responsibility, including line management, larger projects to manage and being the key contact for some clients.

What have you learned from working at APEM

I’ve learned a lot about how to manage projects and finance and how to work with clients. APEM is also the biggest company I’ve worked for so I’ve learned a lot about working in a larger team and with people who are in different offices around the country.

What has been the best bit about your job?

I really like my job so it’s hard to pick out highlights over and above everything else. That said, taking on the challenge of being lab manager and getting positive feedback from colleagues has been great.

Over the last couple of years I’ve also really enjoyed organising and running workshops as part our contract for the North East Atlantic Marine Biological Analytical Quality Control scheme (NMBAQC).

I also enjoy the adrenaline rush of getting tenders done on time. And I still enjoy the microscope work of analysing samples, although I do less of this now.

But the best bit is working with a brilliant team. I have great colleagues who I really enjoy working with.

Do you have any top tips for people in your field?

When most people think of the job of marine biologist, I think they imagine you jumping into the sea and swimming with sharks and dolphins. But this job isn’t like that. You need to be patient and methodical, so those are important characteristics.

The reward is the constant learning. Today I saw a species that I’ve never seen before and it was like Christmas had come early.

What are your plans for the future?

It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride at times so I don’t plan too much for the future. At the moment I’m just enjoying what I’m doing, but I do want to continue to progress and acquire more skills.


If you have any queries, please contact Nic Penisi, laboratory manager.
Alternatively you can email us here. Or call 0161 442 8938.