ND diagnosis or self-identify as:
Current job title:
Head of science policy at Royal Society of Biology.
What does your job involve?
I strategically advance and manage the science policy work of the Royal Society of Biology.
Degree/apprenticeship or route to current job:
Undergraduate degree BVMS, then MSc veterinary epidemiology. Crossed over from clinical veterinary medicine to research to policy.
What were your challenges in school?
Academically achieved high grades in school (all A* at A-level e.g. in the sciences, English, history, art, geography etc. though less so – a divergence – in Maths and French, where I scored B), had to have extra tuition in spelling at primary school and handwriting at secondary school; achieved distinction in undergraduate degree Batchelor of veterinary medicine and surgery from Edinburgh University; found achieving my MSc degree at RVC/LSHTM harder, this is when dyslexia became apparent and was tested. Socially I found school harder than academically, it seems fairly likely I may be autistic too but need to get tested formally.
What strategies/assistive technology do you use to help you in your work?
A lot of reading and MS Word spellchecker! Talking openly about my strengths and weaknesses. In the past used CBT techniques I learned to cope with anxiety and OCD to also identify where my strengths lay (which align well with research on dyslexic strengths) and divert my career towards those.
What ND skills have allowed you to succeed (or progress) in your STEM career?
Curiosity, creativity and innovation; determination; empathy and communication.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Think carefully about (and consciously investigate through the opportunities that are open to you) what you truly want to do, what you find easy and what you find hard, and what you are interested in and really enjoy. Follow a learning and career path that is fulfilling and matches what you’ve learnt about yourself, don’t settle for less and don’t be pushed off it by what you or others think you should do, or should be capable of, however well-meaning their advice may be. Be proud of how you stay patient, kind and determined, despite the bullies who sense your difference and find it hard to engage constructively.