11 February 2022
Celebrating International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2022
Women and girls around the world are making significant contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. At Cambridge Cognition, we are lucky enough to have an incredible team of women implementing change and innovation in the business.
Having recently joined Cambridge Cognition as the Marketing Manager, I took the opportunity to catch up with three other new starters to learn more about their careers in science, what inspires them and their hopes for the next generation of women and girls in STEM.
Meet the Team
I met Product Managers Fatuma Baraza and Mia Allen who joined on the same day in December 2021. At Cambridge Cognition, product management is a multifaceted role requiring stakeholder engagement from across the business and identifying customer needs to roadmap a product solution. They have been working on “aligning our product development with business strategy and the product vision throughout its lifecycle and working with the product team to build out processes to support the business in scaling”.
Fatuma and Mia expanded on this to comment on the role, explaining that they “support in making some very difficult decisions about what gets done now versus what gets done later, ensuring that our decisions are well informed and considerate of our business strategy, available resources and market intelligence.”
Finally, I met our new Director of Neuroscience, Anja Searle, who works to understand more about how our brain perceives, organises, understands and remembers the world.
“Sharing these results with multidisciplinary teams and providing creative solutions to some highly specific client needs is a satisfying aspect of my role. I learn something new every day and am fortunate to work alongside a fantastic, multi-skilled team across the business, as well as to collaborate with wonderful scientists in academia and industry, to better understand cognition in health and disease.”
~ Anja Searle, Director of Neuroscience
Our Journey into Science
Upon meeting Anja, Mia and Fatuma, what’s striking to me is our different paths that led us to Cambridge Cognition, and the different challenges we faced along the way.
Anja always knew she wanted to understand the psychology and biology of human behaviour. Despite her university of choice not offering a neuroscience degree, her tenacity to learn meant that she embarked on courses from two degrees, psychology and biology. Unbeknownst to her, she was helping to pave the way for future generations, as the popularity of the combination resulted in a new combined neuroscience degree.
Mia and I both started out in the financial technology industry. Mia’s first undergraduate and master’s degree were in humanities, and then her early career choices led her to a second master’s in computer science, involving a lot of maths and statistics, where she’s found “real enjoyment learning a world I knew nothing about, and I’m still learning”.
I started my career as a Marketing Junior after an undergraduate degree in sociology. My expectations were that marketing was about the copywriting and the visual aspect. It wasn’t long until I learnt that the data behind customer engagement and the value of data analysis would drive more successful marketing activities. Since then, I’ve been working on growing my skills in data analysis to enable us to drive marketing automation activities.
Science was a path destined for Fatuma. From a family of medics, she was drawn to scientific discovery. After studying undergraduate pathology and microbiology, and then moving into a biotechnology and business management masters, her first role was a molecular biologist. Fatuma commented “My septic technique was so bad, I was always cross-contaminating them, so I worked mostly with bacteria because nothing outgrows them! But that was when I realised I was more interested in connecting the science with the real world.”
Mia found herself in a male dominated industry early in her career, where she was one of the few women in her organisation, and often the only woman in the room when working with her clients. She would sometimes find that assumptions may be made that as a woman she may not know as much about technology as the men in the room.
“It can promote a mixture of imposter syndrome and also it just takes time to get used to always being the only woman in the room. I am a big believer in always making positive changes for yourself, whether that’s education or mentorship. Continual learning is what I have always found helpful and helps with my personal growth.”
~ Mia Allen, Product Manager
Fatuma’s biggest challenge at the start of her career was the bureaucracy of working in another country.
“All it takes is one company or one person to give you a chance. That belief to give someone the opportunity to prove themselves is great. It would be great if we could all give someone that opportunity.”
~ Fatuma Baraza, Product Manager
Working at Cambridge Cognition, I’ve found that it is a workplace that encourages everyone to ask questions, no matter which level of the organisation you’re at and what stage of your career. Fostering a culture of growth where we learn from each other, improve our own knowledge, and make improvements, so the next person doesn’t need to experience the same challenges.
The Future for Women in STEM Disciplines
Post-pandemic, the workplace has become more open minded to the different challenges people face. Enabling people to work in different ways means we are able to get the best out of everyone. I circled back to ask everyone for their thoughts on how to progress in STEM disciplines.
Anja, having always found her own path for achieving her goals of understanding neuroscience, tells us to “be brave and don’t doubt yourself! If you want to do something, or think you might want to, give it a go. If it’s not right, you’ll find out and can adapt, but don’t let other people decide for you.”
In any discipline, there will always be challenges on the road ahead, but Fatuma wisely tells us “if you’re being challenged, you’re growing.” The resources and growing communities of women in STEM will drive the next generation. Mia shared “the community of women in computer science with experience is growing, so there’s more women that can support the next generation, which I think is really exciting. The easiest way to give back is to share knowledge and there are great support mechanisms that are now available.”
I caught up with Fiona Cree, Chief Operating Officer and senior leader in the organisation, as I was concluding this article. She commented:
“It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with Anja, Fatuma, Mia and many other very talented women in Cambridge Cognition. Their drive and determination to make a difference to patients whose cognition is affected by a range of diseases is inspirational. Cambridge Cognition’s focus is neuroscience technology, but a STEM-based career offers so many options to pursue. I’d encourage all to explore how to start their own STEM journey.”
~ Fiona Cree, Chief Operating Officer
Speaking with Anja, Fatuma and Mia on their journey and experiences has given me an incredible insight into the support and community that is available to not only colleagues but anyone who is interested in learning more about the science or just needs some career advice.
If you would like to learn more about careers at Cambridge Cognition, or have an informal chat with us about how to get into science, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.