StemConnext Glasgow: #Building Communities

Women in Tech@Three & STEMConnext in collaboration with BCSWomen hosted their first STEM networking event in Glasgow – Building a community.

The discussion focussed on the ‘Power of People’ with an inspirational panel including:

  • Sharon Moore MBE who leads BCSWomen in Scotland, is IBM’s CTO for Public Sector and is a board member of Scotland Women in Technology
  • Dr Rita Poddar(of CBeebies fame) is a Dental Surgeon, Facial Aesthetic Clinician, Entrepreneur and Founder of the Peppermint Group
  • Lynsey Campbell is an Executive Director at JP Morgan and Chair of Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT)
  • Danny Dixon is a Business Manager in Technology and Operations and writer of blog – Mental Man Talking.

To open the event the panellists shared their views on what community means to them:

Joining communities is a great opportunity to learn, develop and open your mind. Communities are always evolving and you have to take care of them, especially if you are in a position of responsibility. Sometimes, creating a community is about making a movement and it can be very personal. The overwhelming message was: get involved, there’s nothing to lose!

The panel provided personal examples of building their own communities:

When Rita was diagnosed with a benign tumour, she realised how grateful she was to have been able to create such a strong community around her – a community of different people, of varying ages, who worked to support her. With this supportive tribe of people, her friends and partner, she kept her mentally strong through a difficult time.

Lynsey shared her journey from Software Engineer to Head of Communities for JP Morgan. She started a Women’s Community earlier in her career after feeling like there was a gap in her work life. Lynsey has gone on to create a career out of developing communities to encourage women into technology.

After his own mental health breakdown Darren decided to try and change the conversation around mental ill health. He set up blog, where he shares thoughts and advice with the aim of helping remove the stigma of mental ill-health at work. Darren has “unintentionally created a community that has been beneficial for himself and for others in similar position”.

From another angle, Sharon considered the impact of Communities for career progression. She believes Communities are a great opportunity for formal and informal mentoring, and can provide you with the opportunity to drive your career. Communities can help us understand what our options may be and can be used to give us the courage to explore and try new things.

How to build a community that succeeds?

A Community has to be authentic, credible and set up for the right reasons. There needs to be a consistent message and as a ‘leader’ of a community, you have to be tenacious! Once the Community gains some traction, you must actively listen to your people. Hearing from your Community and taking on board their views will enable your community to evolve and flourish. Helpful hint – you don’t always have to do it on your own, but you do have to be yourself!

Any negative experiences to share?

A resounding YES followed... However, as Sharon reminded us, negative feedback challenges you to consider your messages carefully and provides an opportunity to stick up for them – debate is a good thing. Lynsey learned an important lesson recently which reminded her that creating enthusiasm is great, but we have to get it out there in the right way, and in a way which can be followed through. It’s a responsibility after-all.

Next Up – Audience Participation

A series of brilliant audience questions were asked which sparked discussion on a variety of topics including: gender equality, cultural enhancement, diversity, inclusion and bias… the discussion could have gone on for days!

Watch this space for the next StemConnext event.

#STEMConnext’s events will bring you a panel of guest speakers, who are paving the way for diversity and inclusion within the industry, audience Q&A session and a chance to network.

From practical advice on effective ways to navigate your career to the opportunity to learn from the experiences of successful men and women in the industry, you will hopefully come away with valuable and actionable ideas and guidance.

BCSWomen is a BCS Specialist Group that provides networking opportunities for all BCS professional women working in IT around the world. The Group’s main objective is to provide support for female IT professionals, as well as mentoring and encouraging girls/women to enter IT as a career. If you want to connect with BCSWomen Scotland then one of the easiest ways in which to do that is to join our LinkedIn subgroup.

Blog by Caitlin Clark, Sopra Steria