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Posts from the ‘CamAWISE news’ Category

What next for your career? Annual LMB and CamAWiSE Careers Event – 28 June

Are you wondering how to best utilise your scientific skills? Are you planning your next step in academia or considering pursuing a career away from the bench? Would you like more information about different scientific careers from a diverse range of speakers? Then this is the event for you! Read more…

BLOG – New Job? Excel in your first 90 days, with Natacha Wilson

By Raheela Rehman and Dr Stephanie Höhn

Natacha Wilson

Whether in industry or academia, there are two sides of the hiring coin,  the application and the recruitment.  Both are to be understood to ensure you make an impact in your new role. Recruitment is a complex process, with associated costs, the recruiter makes the choice using different tools to ensure the right person is selected, and therefore it is in their interest to make the right choice. The cost to the applicant can vary from relocation, establishing a new network, personal energy and investment.

The rollercoaster of sensations starts with the elation of securing your new post. Even in the perfect job this may be followed by first day anxiety, to Day-60 convincing yourself that it’s exactly what you wanted (or find out that it is not), and finally settled in at Day-90. Thus a final addition to the list as an applicant is the emotional cost. The biggest lesson to allay first day and first 90-days concerns is to prepare for a proactive and measured approach. The day before your first morning, plan your commute to your new workplace or if feasible carry out a physical pre-run, prepare your clothes, reread your job description, visualise your first day and if possible have an early night. The following sections provide a timeline with considered instructions for milestones.

Day 1

Arrive early with an open mind. Meet with your line manager and team members, take the time to note the names of new colleagues and their roles. Examine potential training you may need, assess your strengths, skills gaps, networks, what you wish to achieve in the first month and ask any questions early on. Bring documents with you to read should you have down time. Remember, a good team will be as excited to have you on board as you are to join them. A conscientious manager or team will often arrange a joint lunch or after work drinks to welcome their new team member. Be open, positive and introduce yourself.

First few weeks

If you have started a new job, the first few weeks will be about learning and understanding. Try not to focus on “delivering” too much right at the start, a job well done needs preparation. If you are already a member of the company, starting a new position within the organisation, this is the period you may want to start thinking about what you wish to produce. In both cases, plan ahead, plan to learn, and actively listen. What would you like to be known for? Prepare a short pitch about yourself that you can share with new colleagues you meet, seek out new contacts and friends, identify new alliances and teams and explore the dynamics.

Month 1

In the first month, observe, reflect and set your new routines. It is an opportune time to manage your own and others’ expectations. Agree goals with your manager, and personally set regular SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals. Now is the time to get to know your team and the stakeholders better. Although undeclared, but important attribute, retain your ability to see things with a fresh perspective before you are fully incorporated in to the company system, and become processes driven. Your unbiased feedback will inevitably add value to the company.

Take 15 minutes daily, or else weekly to reflect: what do you feel, as your emotions will change, what has bothered you so far, is this a true perspective, and finally what have been your early successes, or perhaps not so well. Maintain your energy levels, sleep well, eat well, exercise and manage your physical and mental power. Find your own personal outlets to deal with your emotions and get support from friends.

6 weeks

In order to make the most of your experience, seek out your network and a mentor. It is beneficial to understand the organisational structure, and the team or company culture; what behaviour is rewarded and what are the company or team success stories. Ask what the company’s overall mission is and “if a random employee can relay the mission (at least in general terms) during your conversation, it signifies a strong and unified workforce”.

90 Days

After the first 90 days, Natacha Wilson advised that this is the time to define what success looks like for you. Ask yourself:

Are you happy?

Are you able to grow?

Do you have SMART goals set?

How is your relationship with your colleagues?

Is this what you have been looking for or is it a stepping stone to an even better fitting role?

Prepare and boost your confidence at each milestone of your first 90 days timeline in your new post!

CamAWiSE thanks Natacha Wilson.

Natacha Wilson’s recommended further reading:

On the evening, Natacha Wilson helped to draw the winners of the autographed copies of Radio Four Jenni Murray’s book, “The History of the World in 21 Women” in collaboration with One World Publications.  

CamAWiSE was pleased to announce Claire Wilkes and Stephanie Höhn as the winners.

BLOG – How to help others understand your personal strengths during an interview (Part 2 of 3)

By Dr Keith Turner, Director, Springboard*

In the previous blog I talked about the idea of women conveying the value of their strong personal characteristics to help make the benefits obvious to male colleagues. What would be an example of this? And how can you take control of the situation yourself?

Let’s imagine you’re in an interview, and you’ve just been asked a difficult technical question. What sort of reaction does the interviewer want to see? Personally, I look for a resourceful, intelligent and slightly humble answer. I hope to see good solid baseline academic knowledge of the subject. Then I like to see candidates expand on that knowledge, perhaps by giving examples of where they have seen relevant technical use of the knowledge in industrial process or products. I am even more impressed when candidates can put the first two together to make an educated guess at the answer to the question along with some predictions of likely areas of difficulty. The icing on the cake is when the candidate explains how they have tackled something relevant in the past, and are able to admit what went wrong and how they have learned from the experience to do it better next time.

Dr Keith Turner

I can still remember one of the early interviews where the answer was roughly as follows. First, the candidate threw up some equations, apparently unconcerned that a few were wrong. Then he talked about the time he mended his motorbike, before making a not-very-accurate guess at the answer. I appreciated his willingness to have a go, but really it wasn’t a particularly impressive answer and I was worried that he might be bluffing. More recently we had a much quieter candidate who gave only very limited explanations of the underlying science, and didn’t expand into real-world examples. When we coaxed her through the question, she did actually know the equations, but it was hard work to draw the knowledge out. I suspect given sufficient time, she would go away and work it out accurately and check each step, but there wasn’t the opportunity to show that in the interview format.

You can help the interviewer by being yourself. For some candidates, their advantage could be diligence and honesty, so a good answer could go like this: “Hmm, that’s a difficult question. I know from my university course that the fundamental equation is xyz. There’s another important extension to that theory which is more accurate. I can’t recall it right now, but I would go and look that up to make sure it’s accurate and then apply it to this problem. I haven’t made a widget like this myself before, but can I tell you about a different practical challenge I have faced which I think shows the same range of skills? I once made a dongle out of material x because I wanted to learn more about machining that type of substance. It didn’t work first time because the holes were too big. This is because I didn’t allow for shrinkage in that material, so now I always find out about the things that might go wrong and then check with someone else before spending any money.”

Lucy Bennett talks about her year at Springboard. She hopes this movie will inspire others!

An answer along these lines would indicate to me a candidate who has a solid attitude backed up with examples of technical credibility. You could even prepare your own private case study of some practical and theoretical work and then weave it into whichever question you are asked.
Perception is in the eye of the observer, and the more you can do to show the employer that your skills are valuable to them, the more chance you will have of success.

Lucy Bennett at work at Springboard

This initiative by the candidate to ensure the employer understands their strengths is one of the two strategies to improve diversity in the recruitment process. The other is to mitigate unconscious bias on the part of the employer. My journey of discovery on that matter is the subject of the next blog.

* Dr Keith Turner will be a guest panel speaker for the CamAWiSE “Men as allies – Approaching equality together”, 30 May 2019, in partnership with the Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.

Springboard is a technical consultancy which develops innovative medical devices such as auto-injectors, infusion pumps and electromechanical surgical equipment. Springboard works through all product development process stages: concepts, proof of principle in the laboratory, design for manufacture and verification. Through its strategic partnerships with broad industries and technical areas, there is opportunity to develop careers in project leadership, technical specialities, line management and sales.

Further information can be found at

Time management – 19 June 2019 – Marloes Tijssen

Do you procrastinate? Do you have too much to do? Do you know many time management tips & tools, but just don’t put them into practice? Or do you just want to learn tips & tools?

Then this is the workshop for you! Read more…

BLOG – Male leaders need your help to address gender inequality in the workplace – here’s how (Part 1 of 3)

By Dr Keith Turner, Director, Springboard*

Women make up 50% of the population, 15% of the engineering graduates, but only 11% of the engineering workforce. We are missing out on huge amounts of talent which is desperately needed in our workplaces. So what can we do about it?

In my experience, it is pretty rare to find deliberate discrimination towards female workers. Most professional managers I know are just trying their best to find the right people to do high quality work for their clients. But unconscious bias can creep in unseen. Everyone has got their own personal experience of life on which to draw, and this means that men and women naturally relate to the strengths that have helped them achieve their own successes. One of the key challenges to tackling unconscious bias is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of characteristics which they don’t have themselves. It can be remarkably difficult to persuade people to do this.

Dr Keith Turner

Here’s an analogy. Humans can see colours from red to violet. Bees have a spectrum shifted to shorter wavelengths, and can see from orange through to ultra-violet. As a result, many flowers have developed ultra-violet colours to attract pollinating bees. Now, if I choose a bunch of flowers as a gift for my mother, am I going to visit the shop armed with a UV light so I can pick one with beautiful UV patterns? Of course not. I am a human, and I am going to value the colours that I can see, especially those that my mother appreciated last time. Am I discriminating against bees? Not at all. In fact I like bees. They are good for the environment and make honey. It’s just that their view of my mother’s flowers isn’t relevant and so doesn’t even enter my mind. On the other hand, if I want to select a gift of flowers for my mother to put in her garden, then I really ought to give a bit more consideration to the bees’ visual spectrum. Otherwise, she’s going to have no pollination and a barren flower bed.

Katya Goodwin describes what a gap year at Springboard has done for her.

So to help companies gain the benefits of diversifying the workforce, one important thing people can do at work is to try to help future colleagues to understand the value of their individual strengths.

I personally have gone through a great learning curve on this. Through various experiences and conversations, I have come to appreciate with great clarity the strength diversity amongst the team adds to our business. In much the same way as natural selection does in nature, diversity adds quality and durability to the solutions we produce. I reached a stage where I actively wanted to seek out that diversity. But how to do so was a remarkably difficult challenge, which I now realise required two strategies. One is to help women to be aware that any colleague is subject to unconscious bias, so they need to make their strengths obvious. The second is to change the company’s approach to mitigate that unconscious bias.

Katya Goodwin at work at Springboard

The good thing about the first strategy is that it is largely under the control of the individual, so in the next blog I’ll talk in more detail about how candidates can make their strengths obvious to interviewers during the recruitment process.

Springboard is a technical consultancy which develops innovative medical devices such as auto-injectors, infusion pumps and electromechanical surgical equipment.Springboard works through all product development process stages: concepts, proof of principle in the laboratory, design for manufacture and verification.  Through its strategic partnerships with broad industries and  technical areas, there is opportunity to develop careers in project leadership, technical specialities, line management and sales.

Further information can be found at

* Dr Keith Turner will be a guest panel speaker for the CamAWiSE “Men as allies – Approaching equality together”, 30 May 2019, in partnership with the Wellcome – MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute.

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