Our director of membership and external affairs, Clare Viney, reflects on 16 years with the Royal Society of Chemistry as she moves to take up her new position as CEO of the careers research organisation CRAC.
I joined the Royal Society of Chemistry as a student member; the RSC staff always came to talk to us at Sheffield University at the beginning of the year. There was always a strong link between the RSC and our student ChemSoc and department.
My first big Royal Society of Chemistry event was a 'Younger Chemists Symposium' at the spring meeting at Heriot Watt University in 1995, with over 1,000 delegates. Lectures on the chemistry of whisky and wine, as well as networking and careers sessions were followed by a ceilidh.
I came away thinking this is an organisation I want to be involved in!
In the last 16 years we have become much more influential and visible in the community and wider world, although I realise that there is still more we can do. The professionalism and expertise of the staff has grown dramatically and it feels like much more of a partnership with members and stakeholders.
Our membership has grown by 30%, our publishing output is significantly bigger and the number of staff has doubled.
I am proud to have been a part of our 175th anniversary celebrations this year. 175 is perhaps an odd anniversary to recognise, so we chose to celebrate our community rather than ourselves as an organisation. Without our members, we as an organisation wouldn’t be here, so it is fitting to celebrate the people rather than our organisation’s history. Our 175 faces of chemistry and 175 minutes for chemistry projects are a fantastic way for us to recognise the contributions our community makes to advancing the chemical sciences.
Inclusion and diversity are essential; none of us like to see waste and we see so much talent not go as far as it could in our profession. This is for lots of reasons but as a community we need to challenge the system – it is changing but not fast enough. I was involved in shaping the initial idea of 175 faces of chemistry with our past president, Lesley Yellowlees, and our deputy chief executive, Helen Pain. It has been even more successful than we could ever have hoped for. Lesley has been a ‘real’ model for me, proving that you can balance family and work life and not compromise on who you are.
We’ve also received so many great contributions and examples of members communicating their science and passion through 175 minutes for chemistry this year. I got involved in the idea and really enjoyed the Science Day I organised at my son’s primary school with 12 other parents. I tweeted a great picture of my eight year-old son playing with non-Newtonian liquids (corn flour gloop) and his friends now think I am some kind of Harry Potter wizard.
After demonstrating it to 300 children I am in awe of teachers and how they keep their energy levels up all day, every day! It’s really rewarding to go into schools and talk about science and inspire the next generation and I have relied on Royal Society of Chemistry resources for support and ideas over the years.
It was a tough decision to leave but I will of course remain a member of my professional body. I have been immensely proud to work for the Royal Society of Chemistry and I have truly loved the last 16 years, making a huge impact on behalf of our community and working as part of an exceptional team of colleagues and members.
I will remain a staunch advocate for the RSC and will still be involved in the wider community as CEO of CRAC, who are equally passionate in their dedication to realising the potential of researchers through the Vitae programme, supporting those who advise on young people’s career decisions, and providing research and careers innovation to a range of sectors.
Vitae is an international programme led and managed by CRAC, itself a not-for-profit registered UK charity dedicated to active career learning and development in the UK since 1968.