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The new AWiSE season – confidence, communication, better presentations and so much more!

Another successful season of CAMAWiSE events is complete. But we don’t look back for long, we’re well into planning our calendar of events for 2015-16. We do hope you can join us for one or more of them!

Nina Cooke

Nina CookeThe autumn term sees parts three and four of our WiSE UP 2015 series of workshops.

We have the final event in our workshop series on October 13th: Jane Goodall’s Communication Skills Masterclass. (Booking for this event is now full and has closed. If you would like to be added to a waiting/cancellation list for this event please email Gayle

We are delighted to be presenting a joint event with the East Anglian branch of the Institute of Physics, on October 1st. The distinctive Schlumberger Gould Research Centre, in West Cambridge, will be our host for this event, featuring a talk by Dr Sarah Bohndiek, WISE Research Award winner.

Netherhall School, in Cambridge on the evening of 9th November, will be our venue once again for a STEM careers fair for girls aged 13-18. With speakers from different STEM backgrounds, this will be a great opportunity for girls to hear how fascinating and rewarding a career in science, technology, engineering or maths can be.

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Meetings – a survival guide


We have all, at some time, endured them, led them, organised them, maybe even enjoyed them! Everyone probably has their own idea of how they should be run and what they should be for. And at our recent event, I think we must have heard just about every possible point of view on bad practice in meetings and how to deal with it.

As an icebreaker, our ‘Meetings bingo’ worked well. We each had a list of meeting ‘roles’, such as ‘asked for a pay rise’, ‘interviewed someone’, ‘introduced a speaker’, and the challenge was to talk to different people and discover examples of what might have gone wrong for them in each of these situations. AWiSE members rarely need much excuse to get chatting but this exercise certainly helped!

20150714_211514As a group, we discussed some of the issues arising from these conversations. An amazing array of experiences was revealed, along with some equally interesting and creative suggestions for dealing with some of the awkward and difficult situations being described. Read more

The secrets of high-performing teams by Cathy Sorbara

Linda Cockburn led a thought-provoking discussion in the second workshop of the Cambridge AWiSE WiSE UP series entitled ‘The secrets of high-performing teams’. Her innate ability to listen, engage and educate set the stage for an evening of lively, open discussion.

Before we could learn the secrets behind successful teams, we first needed to understand the purpose of teams. Teams promote creativity. They must work together to fulfill a function and achieve a common goal. When expertise runs out, it is only team work that is strong enough to carry on. Unfortunately, teams may also be formed for all the wrong reasons, for example as a means to ensure people are kept ‘in the know’ or without a focused, complex problem to solve.

June workshop group 2A fascinating study out of the Human Dynamics lab at MIT headed by Prof Alex Pentland had concluded that the most important factor in building a successful team is communication – more specifically, the quality of communication is the greatest predictor of team success. It even outweighs the intelligence of the individual members. Quality comes from face-to-face interaction. Close that email. Walk over to your colleague or set up a regular Skype call.

When broken down, there are three essential aspects of teams: energy, engagement and exploration. Energy is related to the quality of the interaction amongst members. This can be as simple as common tea breaks or eating lunch together. Engagement means that everyone is an equal participant – there exists no cliques or outsiders. Finally, exploration is the promotion of creativity and innovation. The ultimate task is to find a way to balance all three.

June workshop group 1Thinking back on previous and current team experiences there are a multitude of factors that influence the quality of a team. They have a clear vision and well-defined roles. There is consistency and behavioral standards that are well laid out. They celebrate successes, continually promote visual interaction and last but certainly not least, they have productive meetings! Yes, that is not an oxymoron!

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What next for your career in Science – by Penny Coggill

CamAWiSE-LMB Speakers JBThere were some 70 participants at this our 9th annual meeting at the LMB. Held on 9th June, this lunchtime event was ably organised by Alex Philips at the LMB and Gayle Sullivan for AWiSE.

All three speakers were alumnae of the LMB, so their careers truly resonated with the audience. We were presented with three very different personalities with three very different career-outcomes; but all had worked and studied hard, knew their subjects backwards and chosen where their hearts lay and what suited their personalities rather than an ‘ought’. They were all hugely enthusiastic about what they were doing.

The first speaker was Milka Sarris who is pursuing her career in academia.
After a brief romp through her projects at PhD and post-doc level she explained the turning point when she realised that she wanted to pursue her research and had decided what area she would work in, and she then gave us valuable hints on how to gain a fellowship.

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Energy for the Future – by Cathy Sorbara

Cambridge’s Trinity Hall played host on Thursday May 21st to a wonderful and lively evening panel discussion looking at how we will keep up with the ever-growing energy demand.


The event chaired by Raheela Rehman kicked off with an introduction to CamAWiSE by Claire Lucas, the CamAWiSE Co-Chair. The evening discussion was started by Iman Hill, former Vice President of Development and Production, Africa at Sasol Petroleum International. She introduced the audience to the historic and predicted future energy use: demand for energy will surpass the supply by 2050. This global demand will come mostly from developing countries such as; China, India and Saudi Arabia. Although not part of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members their consumption of oil continues to increase in parallel to their energy intensive manufacturing sectors.

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