This month, we meet Dr Sarah Berry (Class of 1995), a scientist and lecturer, whose research focuses on the effects of diet on cardiovascular health.
Class of 95
Tell us about your current role and what the job entails
I am a senior lecturer at Kings College London in the Department of Nutritional Sciences in the School of Medicine. My role involves undertaking cutting edge research in the area of diet and cardiometabolic disease and teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students. I run clinical intervention studies to study the effect of diet on cardiometabolic health which involves developing research proposals, managing research teams, overseeing the implementation and running of dietary intervention studies, and writing peer reviewed journal articles for publication. Every day is different, exciting and stimulating. My research takes me all over the world to collaborate with international scientists in my field and present my work at international conferences. I love the variety of skills that I use in my job; I am a scientist, a team leader, a project manager, a teacher, a communicator……and much more. It’s tough to balance all my different roles, but doing so has built my resilience which reaps benefits in all other aspects of my life.
Briefly describe some of the key roles you’ve held in the past and how they have helped you in securing your current role
Following my BSc I took a year out and worked in many varied roles (admin, bar work, reception work). I also worked in healthcare PR, following my MSc and prior to commencing my PhD. Although these roles were not instrumental in securing my PhD and future academic career, I learnt many transferable skills which have been fundamental to allowing me to fulfil a successful academic career. A well-rounded individual with experiences, however brief, outside of their chosen career path, often goes on to be the most successful in their career.
What do you think are the top three qualities/skills required to be successful in your role/field?
Critical thinking, resilience and flexibility
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what other career path might you have taken?
I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than what I do now.
How do you think your education at Streatham & Clapham prepared you for life after school?
I joined SCHS half way through year 11 and I found the difference in the level of education that I had received previously, versus that of my classmates, quite daunting. However, with the support of the teachers and encouragement from the head teacher, Miss Ellis, I quickly caught up with my classmates. Streatham & Clapham taught me to strive to be the best that I can and that putting in 100% effort was more important than the final achievement in grades. This approach to learning developed me as an individual and allowed the learning process to take precedence over the final mark. The school, and Miss Ellis, also taught me that I was ‘an elastic band’ to be stretched to full learning and skill capacity! This gave me determination and resilience which prepared me well when facing challenges in my future studies and academic career.
Tell us about any further/higher education that you undertook after you left school
I obtained my first degree, BSc Physiology, at Sheffield University. Following this I undertook an MSc in Nutrition at King’s College London, where I also gained my PhD (Nutrition).
Who inspires you?
There is no single person who inspires me – we all have varied skills and numerous flaws! I am inspired by people who are able achieve a happy balance in life and are content with whatever path that they choose to take.
What piece of advice would you give to a current pupil contemplating a career in your sector?
As we spend the majority of our life working, I strongly believe that we should strive to love our job. Therefore, I would advise pupils not to decide too early on in their school or work lives what career path to follow. Allow your interest and passion for any given subject or skill to determine each step you take. As long as you give your energy and commitment at each stage, you will end up in the career that’s right for you.