Network Spotlight: #STEMConnext

#STEMConnect

Tell us a bit about your network (including when you were founded and why, how many members, who leads the network, anything on your committees).

I lead two networks:

Women in Tech @Three was founded in 2016 by Trudie Fell and I took over the helm in September 2018. The group is for employees of Three UK, both female and male, who want to encourage gender diversity. We believe that a genuinely diverse talent base is good for business, good for technology and good for both men and women. Our goal is to support that belief with practical and effective action. We want to find and retain women in technology roles, to show how diversity benefits everyone, plus remove barriers and change thinking. We began in Tech & Ops and last year expanded our group to include anyone working at Three, we currently have 136 members in our Linked in Group, with a smaller core group who attend regular lunch & learns and events. Currently I am the driving force but I am currently planning to put together a committee and we have monthly lunch & learns and workshops planned for this year.

#STEMConnext: I founded a networking events company, #STEMConnnext (named by my husband) in October 2018 as I recognised a gap in the market for Women in STEM Networking events outside of London. My local area of the Thames Valley is full of Tech, Science and Engineering companies but people who want to network, have to get to London! So, I decided to organise my own! I set out to organise a networking event that I would want to go to… luckily about 80 other people wanted to go too! We kicked off with the theme of “Building a Community” with five fantastic panellists and #STEMConnext was born. I have done all promotion on social media: Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook and the Facebook group already has 200 members in only four months.

What is your network’s prime objective?

#STEMConnext’s group vision is to bring STEM women and men together in their local area – to connect, collaborate and converse.

Women in Tech @ Three want to find and retain women in technology roles, to show how diversity benefits everyone, plus remove barriers and change thinking.

How is your network helping women to progress in the workplace?

Through Women in Tech we have managed to source funding for Self Confidence workshops for about 25 people, we also run lunch & learns with a focus on successful women at Three coming to talk about their careers aswell as workshops on D&I strategy, flexible working and parental leave. I believe that women and male allies know they have a network to support their progression and career.

Tell us about your events?

The format of the events is to shine a limelight on a different hosting company each time: “Building a Community” in November 2018 was hosted at Three UK in Maidenhead, the next event on 20th March: #STEMconnext: Tackling Imposter Syndrome is being hosted at Zebra Technologies in Bourne End, Bucks.

A panel of experts: Kally Kang-Kersey, Joy Palfery, Susie Ramroop and Phin  will discuss why about 70 per cent of men and women suffer from Imposter Syndrome and lack of self-confidence.

Please come along to join the discussion and get some tips and advice on how to challenge this perception and build our confidence:

 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/stemconnext-berkshire-tackling-imposter-syndrome-tickets-54800636178

To read about the event last November see here:

https://medium.com/@keithos80/stemconnext-building-a-community-26f914fc7364

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/connect-compete-maidenheads-first-stemconnext-made-change-leonard/

#STEMConnext is also coming to Glasgow with its first event “Building Communities” will be in collaboration with BCSWomen. Sharon Moore MBE from BCSWomen and Lynsey Campbell, Chair of SWIT will be on the panel talking about how important their communities have been to them.

What should we expect if we join?

The Facebook and Linked in groups are a support community – a safe place to ask questions, ask for help, share articles and ideas and engage with like-minded people. We welcome respect, kindness and encouragement. We want to be “cheerleaders” for each other, #STEMConnext is about connecting, not competing.

The key focus is local communities so we share and encourage voluntary opportunities to attend career fairs at school, advertise local roles and of course encourage our members to meet and connect at our events.

How do our members join your network, is there a fee?

We don’t currently charge a fee for the network or the events but as we grow and add more benefits for the community this may change.

What advice would you give to anyone who is joining a network for the first time?

Be open and authentic – you get more from a community the more you give. People respond to personality, transparency and openness and I believe that through this, trust is built.

Any top tips for new networkers? Why is building your network important?

I believe that everyone needs a support network and a safe place to chat, meet new people and share ideas, women especially. We like making connections. Building a network and contacts is so important for your career as well as your self-esteem. The USP of #STEMConnext is that everyone is fairly local so there is often much less than 6 degrees of separation! #STEMConnext events are friendly and I really make an effort to go round to speak to everyone, even if just to introduce people to people where I think there is a connection or network to be made.

My top tip is “Be Brave”, go and say hi to someone and they will be as relieved that you made the effort as you are!

Finally, what’s next for your network?

We have two events coming up in March – one in Bourne End and one in Glasgow. Future events are likely to be hosted by Visa and Microsoft in Reading and possibly O2 in Slough and I’m also organising an event in Glasgow in collaboration with BCSWomen, so keep an eye out as #STEMConnext may be coming to your local area as we expand…

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