Speaker Questions: Dr Sharon Wheatley

Here are Sharon's top tips and answers to some of your questions!



How has your work been impacted by COVID-19, and what effect do you think it will have in the future?

I have been very busy, teaching and designing on-line course content, with more traditional marking of exam papers also moving online. I have had more work than I expected this year, since I had planned to be semi-retired. Given my risk management background and the current level of business uncertainty, I have been pleased to accept all offers of work, and am putting retirement plans on hold.


What has been a highlight in your career?

As a Quality Engineer, it is having been involved in successful collaborative projects, for example, the Trans-Manche Super Train (now the Eurostar) or Speechdat II (European voice database for training phone speech recognition software). I was pleased to be promoted to lead the Quality Department, but I enjoyed project work more.


How do you think students can best prepare for the future?

Be happy to start in any role, and do it well. I started working as a secretary when I left college, and it was as a temporary secretary that I initially worked at GEC, and was then offered a permanent role and training to become a Quality Engineer. It is great if you can find a job that aligns with your qualifications and can get a start that way, but this isn't always easy.


Is there any reading materials that you would recommend?

Recently, I have found the following interesting:

  • Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez - exposing data bias in a world designed for men - this emphasises the importance of gathering and using data in decision making

  • Freakonomics by Levitt & Dubner - this is quite old, but I recently reread it, and I like the way it uses traditional approaches to analysis and applies them to new and different contexts.


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