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Reflections from WIS A Day With...2013

We were delighted to host a one day symposium on Thursday 26th September 2013.

The day featured engaging talks from many of Warwicks leading females who are at the cutting edge of science, as well as snap shots as to what the support services have to offer.

The event attracted a dynamic and diverse audience, leading to rewarding and lively discussion throughout the breakout sessions. We hope those who attended benefited from hearing from our experts stories, and were able to find answers to questions you may have about your own career in Science.

We believe that the following 8 points, as outlined by our final speaker Allyson Reed really summed up the day.

1. Research is Great - For All Sorts of Things

Research asks important questions, so that you can make a difference. It gives you access to wider areas of thinking, while also allowing you to meet great people both here and abroad. It allows you to focus on doing something excellently. Science is a competitive and tough career but also one that is truly exciting. It gives you lifelong skills which you can use in any career which ever path you decide to follow.

2. Take Charge of Your Career

As Martha Lane Fox said “Things don’t just happen – you have to make them happen”. Change something every 6-10 years. It’s difficult and you will make mistakes – it’s how you deal with them that will define your success.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Darwin

3. Network, Network, Network

It’s natural – make connections, be authentic, build trust. But remember to give at least as much as you get. Networking can work in magical ways….. your last contact may be your next job offer.

4. Life’s More Than an Exam, It’s All About People

Life’s more than your CV: exams, qualifications and data. Choose your bosses carefully. Understand people dynamics and management styles. Be aware of organizational culture. Mentors and coaches can be very important.

5. Being a Woman Can be Tricky

However remember that diversity is a strength Women still under-represented on boards. YouTube

Tips Be very prepared, make noise early. The language you use is important, don’t qualify statements but having a question at the end of your sentence. Remember not to beat yourself up for what you’re not good at or worry that you won’t succeed. Sit with presence and energy. Watch the clip below by Amy Cuddy. This two minute tip which may change your life’s outcome

6. Communicate and Tell Stories

Take every opportunity for communications training and practice. Storytelling is a vital skill – ‘data with a soul’.

Brene Brown - researcher - storytelling and ‘on being enough’

JK Rowling Harvard Graduation Speech

Use social media (Linked in used by employers)

7. Ambition, Leadership, Confidence

Confidence: exude it, inspire it and grow it in others. Believe in your mission. Challenge your limiting beliefs.

8. Be True to Yourself

Take time and effort to know yourself and your values. Listen to your inner voice. Be authentic and a player, not a passenger. Distinguish between the person and the role. Be committed and most of all have fun.

Speaker Biographies


Joanna is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering, with research interests spanning materials analysis and medical imaging. While at school she wanted to be an archaeologist, but she was diverted by a developing interest in Physics which she pursued at University of York as an undergraduate, and then University of Warwick as a PhD student. Inspired by an unusual seminar in Warwick Physics, Joanna applied for funding to study brain iron dysregulation in diseases of ageing, and encouraged the Alzheimer’s Society to support her with a postdoctoral fellowship (despite her transparent lack of training in neuroscience and biology). It worked, and after some busy and exciting years as a postdoctoral researcher in the UK and USA (during which time she collected a silly number of air-miles), Joanna returned to Warwick and joined Engineering as an Assistant Professor. Having recently completed her probationary period, she is now juggling research, a new laboratory, teaching, and administrative roles along with family responsibilities.


Claire is an Outreach Fellow in the Department of Computer Science. She was awarded a PhD in Space Robotics in 2006 from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. As part of her research she worked on the Beagle 2 Mars Lander, and took part in many outreach activities including the RCUK’s ‘Researchers in Residence’ programme and the EPSRC’s NOISE scheme. Claire even appeared twice on Channel 4’s Scrapheap Challenge Road Show.

Following her PhD, Claire managed the EPSRC-funded project ‘Walking with Robots’. Working with over eight robotics research labs in the UK, the project reached over 80,000 people through a variety of interactive events, including the first UK festival of robotics.

In 2010 Walking with Robots was awarded the Rooke Medal for the Public Promotion of Engineering by the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2011 Claire moved to Cheltenham Science Festival to manage FameLab, an international competition to identify, train and mentor researchers and aspiring science communicators wishing to engage public audiences with their work. During this time she worked closely with both the British Council and NASA.

Claire has recognised expertise and experience in both robotics and public engagement; she is soon to chair the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Technical and Professional Network on Robotics and Mechatronics and sits on the IET Design and Production Committee. She also reviews Public Engagement grants for the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Wellcome Trust and the Swiss National Science Foundation.


Rebecca Cain is an Associate Professor in Experience-Led Innovation based in the International Institute of Product and Service Innovation in WMG at the University of Warwick where she leads the Experiential Engineering Research Group. Rebecca originally trained as an industrial designer before specialising in user-centred design research. She joined Warwick in 2005 as a Project Engineer, while completing her PhD and went on to work as a Senior Research Fellow , then Assistant Professor before becoming an Associate Professor in 2012. Rebecca Cain’s research is always based upon multi-disciplinary academic and industrial collaborations and she works across many sectors including healthcare, the built environment, automotive design and engineering and energy efficiency. Rebecca Cain’s research aims to improve people’s experiences of spaces, places, products and services through better design. Specifically, her two core research interests are: (i) the involvement of users in the design process, and the methods to do this (with and without technology); and (ii) understanding the relationship between design and emotional response in users – in particular the impact of design on health and wellbeing.
In 2009 Rebecca was awarded an EPSRC Challenging Engineering Fellowship worth £1.3m which has allowed her to build a new multidisciplinary research team focussed on healthcare environment design. She is now growing the team through expanding the research beyond healthcare into the energy sector. She is the Hon Secretary for the council of the Design Research Society, has over 60 published journal and conference articles, and research funding of £2.4m. She is a design educator on undergraduate, postdoctorate and professional programmes, a PhD supervisor, and outside of academia Rebecca is also a Mum.

Allyson Reed

Allyson is a commercial business leader with a scientific background. She is a founder director of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency, which accelerates economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. She champions business-university engagement. During her time at TSB she identified the need for national innovation centres which became the Catapult programme, developed the annual innovation event, InnovateUK into the UK’s largest event for business, academia and government with a growing national network of allied events, and worked with research councils to join up research and business innovation. She has extensive international experience of innovation and enterprise policy and practice.

Following early research as Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Cambridge, her career has focused upon growing research based business. Allyson held senior management roles in multinational healthcare, engineering, security and communications businesses and led a successful start-up company. As director of innovation at Qinetiq plc and prior to that commercial director of the UK’s national research laboratories (now STFC), she developed substantial corporate collaboration and licensing programmes and established portfolios of spin-out companies. She founded a technology transfer company, the Rainbow Seed Fund (an early stage venture capital investment fund) and a joint venture science park and incubator.

She has extensive experience of public and private sector innovation, of the commercial and entrepreneurial skills needed to accelerate sustainable new business and of engaging both large and small organisations in enterprise, particularly with universities. She serves on a number of advisory groups and boards to government, business and universities.