I think most of my life I’ve shyed away from leadership while secretly thinking that I could have done it better! Isn’t that something we all do though; being unwilling to take the plunge as a leader but making attempts to take over all the same?
There’s an initiative that I’ve seen on social media for some time that sends the message that bossy girls shouldn’t be suppressed but insetad, should be encouraged into leadership programmes. I’ve never been bossy though, decisive maybe but never bossy! I’ve also never really thought of myself as a leader, it was always someone else that pipped me to the post for coordinating projects because I like to consider a host of factors before I launch into leading a project. Who I’m working with, what we’re working on and whether people would value my opinion are things that have led me to mostly adopt an assistant role instead.
Things are starting to change now that I’m moving away from being a student though!
At this year’s SfAM Annual Conference, Dr Aled Roberts, current chair of the early career scientist committee, pulled me to one side and adopted a serious tone. After breaking the news that he was stepping down as chair, he quickly followed with “I’d like you to be the next chair.” My first reaction was being slightly dumbstruck that anyone would want me to lead anything; I like coming up with, organising and implementing ideas, but I never thought I could be a deciding factor!
It turned out that he really did want me to become the next chair. I’ve been on the committee for almost three years and progressed from undergraduate representative to communications officer but I always assumed that someone else would be moving into the position.
Of course, I had to apply and it was an agonising wait to see if my carefully thought out application would persuade them to appoint me. There were times when I was sure that I wouldn’t get the position as I have a habit of over criticising myself in front of people I should be confidently promoting myself to! At a meeting I remember saying and voicing some rather scathing and untrue concerns about myself, but luckily none of them were taken into account when deciding roles for the next ECS Symposium!
Finally, it was a message from Aled telling me to check my e-mails that gave me a clue as to the outcome of my application. In my inbox was a very formal e-mail inviting me to become vice chair, shadow the current chair for a year and then assume the principal role. I quickly responded and then took to all forms of social media to share my news!
I‘m lucky that the ECS committee is a formidable team; jobs are shared around and everyone is credited for the work they do. I’ve always felt very at home with the staff and committee members at SfAM and even as an ordinary student member I was struck by how friendly everyone is and how much everyone enjoys themselves!
All that remains is to say thank you to the people at SfAM who gave me this chance to keep challenging myself. I’ll take it all in my stride.