These outstanding young professionals may be moving onto new and exciting roles, but the lessons they learned on the WISE Young Professionals’ Board will stay with them for life. They were kind enough to share with us their fondest memories and most valuable take-aways from serving on the WYPB…
Leadership lessons, time management and business networking; these are just three of the many valuable lessons these young role models say they have taken from their time on the WISE Young Professionals’ Board. As they spread their wings and move onto more senior STEM roles, we asked them to share with us their favourite memories and best lessons from their time on the Board…
Job title: Quality and DevOps Specialist, ROSEN
Joined WYPB in: 2020
Reason for leaving: Changed jobs (new employer is not a WISE member company)
Job title: Digital and Circular Economy Consultant
Joined WYPB in: 2020
Reason for leaving: Moving abroad
Job title: Commercial Advisor – Integrated Energy Solutions Europe
Joined WYPB in: 2019
Reason for leaving: Finished the full 4 years and moved on to give others an opportunity on WYPB.
Please outline how you came to be involved with the WYPB
Beth: I found out about the WISE Young Professionals’ Board when I worked for Capgemini Engineering. They sent out a company-wide email advertising a position on the WYPB, and I was immediately interested! I went and spoke to my manager, who was incredibly supportive of my application, and applied straight away.
This was my first ever job and I had only been in the company for 3 months when I applied, so it was brilliant to be presented with and supported in pursuing this opportunity so early on in my career.
Isobel: I first came to be involved through Hazel Atkins (the then Chair). She shared how inspiring, impactful and meaningful her time on the board had been and the connections she had made in other organisations and within BMT.
She also shared the application which I then decided to put myself forward for as I am a passionate advocate for gender equality in my working life and was looking for an avenue to channel that passion into action.
Alexandra: I first became aware of the YPB after winning the WISE One to Watch award in 2018. I was approached by the chair following the event who shared details of the fantastic work that the WYPB were doing and encouraged me to apply. Four years on I am so glad I took her up on the opportunity.
What are the top three things you’ve learned in your time on the WYPB?
- The power of social media to have a positive impact on people and act as a platform to champion others.
- The importance of community for Women in STEM – the current WYPB and our alumni network (which I will soon be joining) is an incredible group of people who always encourage each other and open doors to new opportunities.
- How to be a mentor: I was able to be Kay’s mentor for most of 2021-22 and talk to her openly about what it’s like to be a young woman in STEM today. It was an experience that taught me lots of new skills which have helped build my confidence and shift my career trajectory for the better.
- Importance of a clear understanding of team purpose and governance alongside connections into other teams
- Importance of a pipeline of talent and sponsorship within organisations to accelerate individuals to ensure the next generation of leadership is growing
- Within the retain workstream, it was really interesting to learn about paternity leave and the impact on women in the workforce
I have learned how important it is to have meaningful conversations with like-minded individuals about the topic of diversity in the workplace and gender balance within STEM.
I have learned a huge amount about the retention of women within STEM industries. Not only have I learned new knowledge to help with retention of women, but I have also had my eyes opened to the huge amount of work we need to do in this area to be able to have females as senior leaders within organisations.
Also, I have really enjoyed learning about the different challenges that are faced depending on industry and also being able to draw comparisons of similar challenges between industries.
Please share any fond or significant memories of your experience as a young board member
Beth: I headed up our social media team throughout my time on the WYPB, and the first long-term campaign I ran was called ‘#WISEWomen’.
Throughout 2020 and 2021 we reached out to a range of women in STEM from all backgrounds and wrote small biographies about them which we posted online. Not only was it incredible to learn about the amazing work that these women were doing, but the response we got to sharing their profiles online was mind blowing.
We had so many people saying they were inspired by these new role models, and being so excited to finally have a relatable role model to look up to. The campaign was designed to only run for a few weeks, but in the end we ran it for 9 months because of the overwhelmingly positive response.
- The joy of meeting in person for the first time after the pandemic at BMT and having time to get to know the YPB
- I loved meeting a group of passionate people who have the same drive to address gender equality in STEM
- Learning about my fellow YPB members and their organisations which work in different sectors to myself
Alexandra: One of my favourite parts of being on the board has been to visit all of the different sites from individuals on the board and learn about their strategies, business and processes.
GSK and Capgemini were a real highlight. Learning about air traffic control system designed by engineers and scientists was so interesting.
Why is it important for young role models to exist?
Beth: It’s important for role models of all ages and stages to exist. Young role models can serve as an aspirational guide for many young people who are still in education, whether they are 5 years old or 15.
Young role models also help dispel any questions around ‘Aren’t you too young to be doing this?’ and can often be easier for young people and children to relate to.
If we as a society want to improve gender parity in STEM, we need more visible young role models to help inspire the next generation and to show them that a STEM career is a gal that is very much within their reach.
Isobel: In order to know what you want to become, you often need to be able to see it or hear about it. Also, demystifying the job world – you can be creative in STEM!
Alexandra: I am a huge believer that the younger generation can’t be what they can’t see but this doesn’t only apply to those of school age.
When I was at university I used to really admire these top female senior leaders I would see at events but I would always wonder what individuals sat in between where I was at university and being at the top of that career ladder.
By having role models, we continue to encourage others to strive to be their best and make a difference where they can.
Why should a young professional consider signing up to the WYPB? What are the main benefits, in your opinion?
Beth: There are so many benefits to joining the WYPB. The two main ones, in my opinion, are:
1) The network of professionals that you get access to. Every single member of the WYPB, our Alumni Network and the WISE staff team and Board is hard-working, passionate and a role model in what they do. You will not only make friends on the WYPB, but you will learn so much from everyone you meet and get access to opportunities you wouldn’t dream of otherwise.
2) Personal Development – this is a huge priority for the WYPB. We regularly have training sessions and workshops for WYPB members on topics like time management, inclusive language and public speaking
Isobel: Growing your leadership potential – it is a great team to be part of to take on challenges and push yourself in new ways
Learning how to bring passion and energy to work in a direct, conscious way on challenging topics like the retention of women in STEM sectors
Alexandra: It has given me a platform to be able to use within my organisation to be able to encourage others to have the conversation about gender parity in the workplace and what more we can do to not only encourage women into STEM but to retain them in STEM.
It is fantastic for expanding your network across a vast range of STEM industries and for having access to additional sounding boards and mentors who can help you throughout your career journey.
More about the WISE Young Professionals’ Board
The WISE Young Professionals’ Board is a group of diverse exceptional young role models working at a variety of WISE member companies in the UK.
The aim, whilst giving the next generation of STEM employees a chance to serve on a Board, is to provide new routes into future positions, and to offer others access to strong and passionate role models.
The WYPB pride themselves on representing a wide range of backgrounds, educational routes and industries, which allows them to authentically champion, engage with, support and represent the 1 million strong UK workforce of women in STEM.