How did you feel at your first Trustees session?
Honestly, I was terrified! I am a physical chemist so some of these people I'm not totally familiar with their research specifically, but within the field generally and the broader system, everybody's just very impressive. I remembered my first nominations committee trip to London – I didn't know what to do and think! Carol Robinson was president at the time and she helped calm my nerves.
This time around it was on Zoom so they don't see your nerves so much – it is exciting as well. The Board of Trustees dynamic was really relaxed, everybody felt comfortable and I was kind of shocked that with all these very big names they were sort of chatting like pals. That's quite a nice, welcoming atmosphere to come into.
They’re run like clockwork in the way that you can interject into a conversation and make a point and I think Tom Welton does an excellent job of chairing the sessions and it was very nice to see my opinions listened to.
I remember discussing the funding going towards chemistry students in the summer – they actually did want to listen to opinions, and commenting and acknowledging people’s points, which can sometimes be a bit hard to do at committee meetings, particularly when you've got 14 to 16 trustees.
What would you look back on and say I found that a positive experience or I learned something?
I think just building up the confidence to make a point and, even though I may be young, I can actually make a contribution to the conversation, so it's better to say something than hide it away. I think it's notorious with imposter syndrome. Having experience like this does make you feel that you can reflect back on participating in a policy discussion or about different global issues, in a 180 year-old institution, and get listened to.
Are there people you would say particularly helped with that dynamic and how has the experience helped you?
I'd say Julia Hatto, she has been wonderful. She's a gem. She always used to message me on Zoom meetings saying “I found that really insightful, thank you for your contribution”. I've had many discussions with her in person as well – I think she's a phenomenal chemist and yet she is just really nurturing.
I would really encourage younger members to get involved in these kinds of committees, because I think senior people do want to listen to those ideas. I think it's very rare for a very learned institution to seriously take those opinions into account, I actually do think the RSC is doing something meaningful.
I have had a lot of opportunities through the RSC or from doing these committees – this is not the only reason why I do it, there are other societies I could be a part of but this is the one where I actually feel like I want to contribute something. Opportunities like that should be more widely advertised, specifically targeting younger audiences.
It would definitely be nice to see that recognised more, possibly within a degree in some respects, because it does prepare you for the wider world. You always have to have discussions with people, you're going to work on projects, you're always going to have to organise things and interact with people, so it's a really useful life skill.