Stacey Walker, 34, worked as a cleaner for ten years, often working seven days a week to support her young family.
She was employed by a company that had a contract with the Wilton Center – near her home in Redcar – and cleaned the offices of one of the occupiers, Absolute Antibody.
Although Stacey had no background in science, the more she visited Absolute Antibody, the more interested she became.
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Finally she gathered her courage and asked the boss – Dr. Catherine Bladen – if there were any jobs.
“It was a spontaneous thing,” Stacey said. “I had no real idea what I was getting myself into. I thought I’d just ask Catherine and luckily she gave me the chance.”
After a successful interview, Stacey was hired as a lab technician in 2016 and has never looked back. She has been promoted several times and is now a senior scientist and team leader.
Her story was told to Year 7 and 8 girls on a school trip to the Wilton Centre. Claire Morton, leasing and assistant asset manager at the centre, said: “I’m sure it will inspire her and other young people. There are more than 50 companies in the Wilton Center and there are so many exciting opportunities: whether you’re leaving school, graduating from university or, like Stacey, looking for a complete change of direction.”
Dr. Bladen, Absolute Antibody’s chief operating officer, said: “What Stacey has proven beyond a doubt is that, given the chance, people can reach levels they probably never thought they could achieve.” She’s not afraid to ask questions, and that’s how you learn.”
Young scientists who join Absolute Antibody are sent to her shortly after her launch. “She has a special ability to educate people so that they really understand what is happening. She is a real asset to this company,” said Dr. Bladen, who described Stacey also playing a crucial role during the pandemic.
She was one of just five people brought to work when Absolute Antibody developed antibodies that were used in testing kits and sold to scientists working on vaccines.
Stacey said she only studied science at GCSE because she needed the qualification to go to college. There she took a computer science course, but as a young mother she came to the conclusion that a career in the IT industry was not for her.
“I did not know, what I should do. “You’re trying to find yourself, be a parent and make money because you have a house to run and kids to take care of,” Stacey said.
So she took up cleaning, a job she loved until her growing and unexpected interest in science opened a new door