I am learning every day, meeting new people, and contributing to the ever-evolving world of healthcare. To be involved with this new medical device facility blows my mind, and I cannot wait to see what MAISI produces.Laurence Blight, Operations Officer at MAISI
13 September 2023
In Conversation with Laurence Blight
Laurence Blight talks us through his role at the School, his involvement with Proudly, and finding his way from a creative background to a career in STEM.
Laurence Blight is an Operations Officer at the Facility for Manufacture of Active Implants and Surgical Instruments (MAISI) at the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences. The Facility aims to bridge the gap between the development of these intricate medical devices and their clinical translation.
In his multifaceted role, Laurence liaises with the various stakeholders involved in MAISI- from users to managers to funders- engages with potential new users, and is actively involved in managing the Facility’s online presence.
He started at King's four years ago, working in research administration, but admits that he didn't expect to land the role. "I believed I needed some sort of qualification in the field to even be considered. I didn’t think a degree in theatre would be suitable somehow, but I bit the bullet and applied", says Laurence, who previously worked as a professional dancer and fitness trainer. However, his creative background was ultimately a catalyst for his interest in healthcare research- noticing the adaptability and resilience of the human body throughout his career, he became interested in the science behind it. "I read that the increased longevity of humans over the past century can be attributed significantly to advances resulting from medical research. This only intrigued me further," he says.
Motivated by the prospect of having a vibrant and diversified career, Laurence made the shift to a role in research. STEM does speak "a totally different language", and Google was his best friend for the first few months in the role. Yet again, his artistic training helped. "As a performer, you need confidence in yourself and your work. You are constantly thrown challenges and left alone to deal with them. I think I am thrown a challenge every week in my role, but I tell myself ‘I can do this’ and strive to see it through. I think I live off that anxious, excitable feeling of showing others that it can be done. I put this energy into my current role."
Showing up with an entrepreneurial spirit was also a plus. Says Laurence, "When you are self-employed, you need to be very organized and have a strong sense of discipline to succeed. My background with these skills has definitely helped me in the role. It has inspired me to be a people person, be confident in conversations, and maintain healthy relationships with our stakeholders."
In addition to his position at MAISI, Laurence is also involved with Proudly, the King's LGBTQ+ Staff network. Having joined as part of the Pride planning committee to represent the School and King's at Pride 2023, he is now the group's Events Co-Chair. He aims to bring together academic and professional staff to create a safe and inclusive community while raising awareness about the network. Highlighting the vitality of such spaces in a professional environment, he said, "I think everyone should have the freedom to be their true selves, especially in the workplace. I believe ‘the more you interact with others genuinely with an open mind, the more you will understand them and vice versa'".
Laurence's journey stands as a testament to the multiple unique entry points the School offers people from diverse backgrounds to support its mission of engineering better health. Read more about MAISI’s work and mission on their page, or head over here to learn more about Proudly King’s.