"I am contributing to education matters for the lighting industry" - #IamCIBSE
I am a Specialist Lighting Designer at Atkins & SNC Lavalin
I am Chair of the SLL Education Committee
I am contributing to education matters for the lighting industry
Kristina Allison is a Specialist Lighting Designer at Atkins & SNC Lavalin, and Chair of the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) Education Committee. We spoke to her to find out how she got involved in the lighting industry and the role she has taken on at CIBSE.
How did you come to work in this industry and be working in the role you are in now?
Well, I studied interior design at college then went on to do a Bachelor’s Degree in Product Design and then my Masters Degree in Furniture Design, it was only when I finished university that I started working as a Lighting Design Consultant. So, I’m like most people who work in the lighting industry who will tell you they ‘fell into lighting’! I really enjoyed the job, I was involved with lighting design and teaching, specialising in energy efficiency across the UK. I went on to take over the practice and for a number of years ran the company - Lighting Enterprises Consultancy.
Following this I went on to work at a global lighting manufacturer for a while, and later I would get a job with Atkins where I work now. I had always worked within a specialism, being a lighting designer in the world of energy efficiency projects, so being part of a multi-disciplinary team makes me feel at home.
On being part of the building services industry….
What I find funny about the building service industry, is how little people consider it generally. I mean, take lighting for example, if there was something wrong with it, say it was too dark, or too bright people would notice and complain. Just like if it was too hot or too cold in a building, like a shopping centre can be in the summer!
But lighting design has something so special, it can transform a space, a whole area or a building inside and out. I’d like to think people can just enjoy lighting without understanding how complex it actually is. That part is what I really like, that every detail is a challenge in the most exciting ways even down to just the processes in delivering projects. At Atkins we are very keen to use digital tools to deliver projects and at the moment I’m doing some very exciting things with that and lighting design automation.
On being part of the SLL….
Way back in 2007 I got involved with the SLL, when past-president Stephen Lisk asked me to join the Communications Committee. I also got involved with the CIBSE Young Engineers Network (YEN) and represented the SLL at YEN meetings. I organised a few CPD trips to (then called) Philips Lighting which was popular. I moved into the SLL Education and Membership committee as it suited the type of work I was doing at the time.
Recently I have been made chair of the SLL Education committee after 9 years on the committee and I am looking forward to continuing to contribute to education matters for the lighting industry.
Last year I developed a school lesson as a STEM activity and went back to my old secondary school to teach year 10 (14 year olds) about the lighting industry. It was a really successful 2 days and the pupils responded well and engaged with the lighting samples and made some fun designs (see photos). I felt that this was an age group that might not know a career in lighting even existed, I would love to think that I’ve inspired someone in that class to become a lighting designer?!
Being part of CIBSE and SLL throughout my career has meant that I feel part of a community, a welcoming community of people who are open, and keen to share and support. Attending the CPD and social events that are available to members – and non-members – has given me a lot of networking opportunities that were essential to me when I ran my company and have formed friendships too.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved with CIBSE or SLL?
Just come along to an event, everyone is so friendly and there are always events posted on the CIBSE / SLL website. If you were interested in becoming more involved with one of the SLL committees, I’d say come to an event or become a member and express your interest to one of the team. Its great to have new people with fresh ideas who are enthusiastic about lighting too.