Chris Allan, Senior Occupational Health Adviser
Describe your job in three words:
Help people change.
When did you first realise you wanted to do what you do?
It was about 15 years ago; I knew I wasn’t very happy where I was and what I was doing, so I made a decision to do something about that.
What’s the best thing about your role?
I feel really privileged to meet and help a diverse range of people.
What’s the most challenging thing about your role?
I help people face some of their toughest challenges in life. Lots of people know what they should do, but knowing isn’t enough, because action is often scary.
What’s the proudest moment of your career?
I don’t really feel proud very much, but knowing I can share the tools to help people through difficult times is rewarding – I like finding the way together!
Tell us a little about your work on Mental Health First Aid?
I first trained as a Mental Health First Aid instructor in 2014. Since then MHFA has really taken root at Imperial and become something that enables many of our wonderful volunteers to support those around them. Growing and nurturing that network is where much of my work takes place.
What the most interesting thing you’ve found out through this work?
That people rarely feel listened to.
What is the most common misconception in your area of work?
That I can give you a standing desk – I can’t! Take a look at the Occupational Health pagesfor information on sitting correctly at your workstation.
What is the one thing you want to know/do before you die?
I want to know that I met my fullest potential before I die.
What’s the skill you’re most grateful for?
I am a good listener.
What book, film or record do you recommend most to others?
Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World.
What does your desk look like?
Who’s your science hero/inspiration?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, master of mindfulness.
Name something or someone you couldn’t do your job without:
The whole Occupational Health team! It’s all impossible without the people I work with.
Favourite scientific element:
Iron comes to mind because it’s strong but also bends.
Where is your favourite place to visit in the world?
Campbeltown, Argyll and Bute.
Which three things could you not do without?
My family: Wincy, Alex, Mae.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tell us something surprising about yourself:
I am also an artist. Read about this side of my life in an interview.
Something you do outside of work?
I love to do Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it’s like a physical chess – taxing for the body and the mind!