Women in STEM panel event

Posted in: Career Choice, Event

Women in STEM panel: what did we learn?

A few weeks ago we were fortunate enough to hold a brilliant panel event with fantastic speakers, who were discussing their roles in STEM and how they got to where they are today. It was an inspiring evening with speakers from all disciplines and there was some fantastic networking afterwards. In this blog we will be recapping the speakers’ main points and take home messages, as well as their tips on how to crack the industry as a woman!

First up was Agnes Auledas who is a Structural Engineer at Atkins. After finishing university Agnes completed several internships and gained experience as a project manager in the aerospace and automotive sectors. Three years ago, she joined SNCL - Atkins an engineering and project management consultancy, and since then she has been working in the energy sector. In SNCL- Atkins Agnes developed not only her technical skills as a structural engineer, but also her organisational abilities as a project manager and bid manager. Her current position has allowed her to work on international scale projects such as Hinkley Point C, and to work in both the Bristol and Paris offices, for one of their French clients. For more information about Atkins visit https://www.atkinsglobal.com/en-gb

Next to speak was Hannah Cheshire, a drug discovery scientist at GSK. Hannah gained a 2:1 from Cardiff University in Biochemistry (Biomedical) in 2016, where she primarily focused on protein biochemistry. During her final year at university, Hannah acted as Programme Controller for the student radio, where she managed 200 people and organised a portfolio of over 50 live broadcasts per week.

After graduating Hannah worked in regulatory affairs for Coty. At Coty she found out the desk job life was not for her. Hannah joined the GSK Future Leaders Programme – Drug Design and Selection in 2017. Her home department is Structural and Biophysical Sciences UK where her role was primarily in biophysics to determine binding kinetics and affinities of drug molecules to their targets. She didn’t know lots about biophysics but she reassured us that you aren’t expected to know everything! She says she learnt more in her first month at GSK than her first and second year of her degree combined. Hannah also completed a two month secondment in Bio-pharmaceutical Development, learning mass spectrometry and other biochemical techniques. Hannah currently splits her time 50/50 between small molecules and bio-pharmaceutical biophysical analysis, giving her a comprehensive insight into small vs. large molecule drug discovery. This past month, she started her second rotation into Protein and Cellular Sciences, where she will be working on protein generation for bio-pharmaceutical projects. Hannah told us it’s infectious how passionate people are at GSK. She is involved with various groups, such as the social committee, mental health sub-team and women in leadership initiative group. She gets to spend 80% of her time in the lab and contributes in a big way- picking molecules for medicine! To find out more information about the GSK graduate scheme visit http://uk.gsk.com/en-gb/careers/graduates/

The third speaker was Cigdem Eray, a Customer Propositions Manager at Screwfix. Cigdem studied industrial engineering at university in Turkey. After graduation she went into marketing. She worked in the marketing department for a DIY market chain (Koctas) in Turkey (50% joint venture with B&Q which is part of Kingfisher Plc), where she worked on the company’s catalogues. Cigdem enjoyed working with media agencies, and spent time building the company’s social media and developed their new app. Cigdem came to the UK for six months three years ago, but she has extended her visa to stay since. She decided to stay in Screwfix (UK's largest multi-channel supplier of Trade Tools, part of Kingfisher plc) and swapped her life in Istanbul for Yeovil. There are 610 Screwfix stores in the UK and 19 in Germany. Cigdem is in the customer proposition and strategy department, and is focused on how to maintain what is good with the business and how to fix what is broken and make sure customers have a seamless experience while shopping at Screwfix. To explore current opportunities at Screwfix visit https://jobs.screwfix.com/.

Next up was Amy, a graduate IT trainee at Rolls-Royce. Amy studied biology at Bath and graduated in summer 2018, and undertook her placement at a cancer research facility in Houston, Texas. During her placement she was working with IT, working on matching cancer patients with drugs. Amy joined the Rolls-Royce graduate scheme this September. She works on projects with lots of different people from different backgrounds, for example to improve the HR system. Amy is part of an Employee Resource Group that is focused on gender equality. Her advice for students applying to jobs or internships is ‘to feel the fear and do it anyway.’ To find out more about student opportunities at Rolls-Royce, visit https://careers.rolls-royce.com/united-kingdom/students-and-graduates

The second speaker from Rolls-Royce was Ana Ruiz, a programme manager in operations. Ana began her career in 2000, undertaking an internship during her time at Madrid university, where she worked on the new introduction of IT. She then got a job in telecommunications for ITP. She came to the UK to learn how Rolls-Royce works and to take this knowledge back to ITP, but she found herself not wanting to go back to Spain. Ana moved from Derby to Bristol with her husband, and worked in lifecycle engineering at Rolls-Royce, working to understand why components fail.. However, after her second maternity leave, Ana realized she wanted to do something different. Her current role is Programme Manager for Operations, which involves overseeing projects related to offices in the Bristol site as well as being accountable for three other projects that are optimising the usage of Rolls Royce’s facilities and bringing new opportunities to the Bristol site. Ana said that finding a good partner had helped her to balance her responsibilities.

The Q&A
All speakers emphasized the need for good role models, such as amazing managers and people to look up to in the field or company. It is good to be inspired by people who enjoy their daily lives and jobs, and role models function to encourage you that you can do it.

The question of feeling intimidated intimidated in a male dominated environment and how to deal with this was a great and final question. A tip from Hannah was to get to meetings early, get a good seat so that you can make sure you’re able to participate fully in discussions. Also ‘fortune favours the bold’, if you aren’t sure of something make sure you ask for clarification instead of being confused.. If anyone ever makes you feel silly for asking questions, always remember that it is more of a reflection of them than you. The speakers final tip was to write down questions you want to ask in meetings, to stop you being distracted by the thought of forgetting to ask, so that you can focus your attention on the meeting itself and what is being said. And to never forget the importance of a good handshake and eye contact!

Posted in: Career Choice, Event


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