Big picture thinking helps Maya Piddocke earn 2021 Staff Achievement Award for Work Performance

September 21, 2022

Maya Piddocke’s role as Manager of Laboratory Operations in SFU’s Department of Biological Sciences is a complex balancing act. Her ability to respond to crises with a positive attitude and work collaboratively with stakeholders while managing a high workload has earned her a 2021 Staff Achievement Award for Work Performance.

Her team has the often unseen but vital task of ensuring that no building or technical issues get in the way of the smooth and safe functioning of research and learning. With a department as large and diverse as Biological Sciences, this is no easy task.

In addition to the daily work of managing building and laboratory operations, supervising lab technicians, conducting risk assessments, ensuring safety compliance and managing multiple facilities such as the insectary and greenhouses, Piddocke juggles major repair and renovation projects to ensure that SFU’s aging infrastructure can continue to meet today’s needs. These projects have included the renovation of three large teaching labs, the marine teaching laboratory, managing repairs after a major floods, and setting up the grounds for the SFU CL3 lab for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases research.

“It gives me great satisfaction to see the result of my contribution to complex projects,” she says. “It’s rewarding to see that our students have significantly better learning experiences and enjoy our renovated facilities.”

This work would be more than enough without a global pandemic to deal with. While many departments at SFU were able to shift teaching and research online, many activities in the Department of Biological Sciences cannot be done remotely.

Piddocke explains that “the laboratory technicians were some of the very few staff members that remained on campus for most of the pandemic and it was extremely important for me that they were as safe and as protected as possible.” She lead the development of COVID-19 safety protocols for the department so that certain research and teaching activities could continue in a limited capacity during the pandemic, and she contributed in a significant way to the Faculty of Science’s return to work planning as SFU reopened.

Piddocke’s colleagues praise her ability to approach challenging situations with a positive attitude while managing the needs of many different stakeholders. In doing so, she’s been able to advocate for the interests of Biological Sciences within the university, while also ensuring that the needs of her staff are balanced with the needs of the department.

“If there is a problem or a conflict situation there are always two sides of each story” she says. “99% of work-related conflicts are based on either lack of communication or miscommunication.” When disputes arise, she tries to get stakeholders to see each other’s perspectives.

“Sometimes in the whirlpool of a crisis you need to take a pause for a moment to reassess and be able to see the big picture,” she says. “Which of my decisions will still have impact on the future of teaching and research in our department in five, ten, or even twenty years from now?”

Nominate your colleagues for their outstanding achievements

We are pleased to announce the call for nominations for the 2022 Staff Achievement Awards. We want to recognize staff members who have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the university or their community this past year. The SFU community is invited to nominate staff members for one of the 10 categories. To find out award categories, how to nominate and more, please visit the SFU Human Resources website . Deadline to submit is Oct. 14, 2022.