Over the past few months, we have shone a light on the expertise and projects being undertaken by several team members, including Engineers and Interns, and now is the turn of our Operations Manager, Natalia Vaccaro.

The current working landscape is certainly changing, but Natalia and the rest of the Sensor City team have adapted quickly to working remotely and remain able to support our customers and community as best as possible during these challenging times.

Natalia reveals what her typical working day used to look like, and what new measures she has implemented recently to ensure business continuity.

Wearing many hats

As Operations Manager of a global innovation hub, my role is pretty diverse. I am responsible for coordinating Finance, Facilities Management, Health and Safety, Office Management, Tenant Liaison and Admin duties, to name but a few.

No two days are ever the same, which is one of the main elements I enjoy about my job. One day I may start by setting up network connectivity in an office for a new resident member, next meet with the FM team to discuss building improvements and finish with a call regarding our CRM system implementation.

Another day, I may be assisting with internal communications and event organisation, followed by generating purchase orders for prototyping laboratory equipment, and later, producing some training documents and procedures for fire evacuation policies. I am also heavily involved with procurement and tendering for new contracts.


First impressions count

With only a handful of vacant office suites, the Sensor City building is always a hive of activity, and it’s my job to ensure that the day to day functions run smoothly.

I have a close working relationship with our tenants and am always on hand to resolve any queries they may have. This also goes for new additions to our community, and I pride myself on ensuring that their workspaces are set-up in line with their requirements, pre move-in day.

This involves patching network ports and setting up Broadband packages, ordering office furniture and access cards, as well as arranging lease contracts and taking deposits.

I also work closely with colleagues to introduce new members to our existing customer base, with the aim of establishing valuable collaborations and connections, through encouraged attendance at our monthly Lunch Club networking sessions and social events.


Building an ecosystem

The responsibilities associated with my Operations Management role directly impact upon the building, both physically and environmentally. It is vital for me to be in constant communication with the FM team, in order to deliver an efficient service for all of our tenants, customers and visitors.

I undertake a series of periodic checks, which cover building maintenance, health and safely walk rounds, stock takes, event equipment inspections and bandwidth monitoring. I then produce reports and actions plans based on the findings, to ensure operational efficiency in terms of contracts and upkeep of the building, but also to improve the ambience and practicalities of those who regularly use the building.

This is one of the more creative elements of my role. I enjoyed furnishing our Members’ Lounge and Hot Desk Suites with upgraded seating and décor, as well as implementing other positive building-wide initiatives including recycling and attractive foliage. Previous experience within the hospitality sector allows me to input into the social events that Sensor City runs, which have included tenant BBQs, seasonal quizzes and participation in the city-wide cultural festival LightNight.


Expanding capabilities

I have always had an interest in manufacturing, but since joining Sensor City in 2018, I have expanded my knowledge in regard to the integration of sensors, IoT and digital technologies. I am fascinated by the rapid prototyping capabilities we have on site and the speed at which an idea can be taken all the way from a concept, to a physical 3D printed model, in a matter of hours.

Although my role already covers a range of specialist business areas, I am still keen to learn new skills. Earlier this year, I attended a PAT Testing training course alongside my engineering colleagues and was pleased to gain certification in this area. I have also gained accreditation around GDPR, and am in the process of rolling out appropriate measures throughout the business to maintain compliance and best working practices.


Responding to challenges

The current COVID-19 situation has resulted in a shift in the way we’re currently working. The Sensor City building itself is closed, however the team are still working remotely to provide as much support to our customers as we can, during these difficult and uncertain times.

In the lead-up to the lockdown, I had already prepared a business continuity plan, which has since been adapted to align with the current situation. The building closure has resulted in a significant operational challenge and one which I have been working tirelessly on to minimise the impact it is having for tenants and staff.

For businesses unable to work within our hub at this present time, I have implemented measures to enable the collection of key equipment, ongoing receipt of mail and distribution of e-bulletin updates. For staff, remote working and increased communication via digital platforms has been introduced, and am I also collating details outlining local and national support opportunities to share with our wider networks.

While the impact of Coronavirus has without doubt presented us with operational challenges, I believe that many positive outcomes will prevail. The increased reliance on technology has demonstrated the value that digitisation can bring, with many embracing e-communication platforms for meetings and team updates. Equally, hosting virtual events enables wider audience participation and provides further content that can be used to inform and engage with customers – something which I know our Marketing Manager is keen to explore.

Additionally, enhanced flexibility of the workforce may result in businesses wanting to explore hot desking and agile working arrangements in more detail. This is something which we are able to accommodate at Sensor City, through our Hot Desk suites, Members’ Lounge and hosting of pop-up office initiatives like Jelly Liverpool, and I would be happy to speak with any SMEs about this to provide more information.

Sweet beginnings

Before moving to Liverpool to work at Sensor City, I owned and ran and confectionery business with my partner. We mainly produced fudge and gift sets which were sold in numerous retail outlets across the UK, including Marks & Spencer, The Co-operative, Asda and Chester Zoo.

Having an entrepreneurial and manufacturing background provides me with considerable insight into all aspects of business operations, and running my own business is a personal achievement that I am very proud of. I continue to invest my passion and drive into supporting the start-ups within the Sensor City ecosystem, as I can directly relate to the activities and issues that SMEs may be facing on their growth journeys.


Get in touch

If you have any queries relating to Sensor City or would be interested to find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact me, by emailing: natalia.vaccaro@sensorcity.co.uk


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