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Supporting women in STEM through SPRINT

In line with our ongoing support of STEM and in addition to our commitment to diversity and inclusion at BASF ANZ, we proudly supported the Royal Australian Chemical Institute's Women in Chemistry inaugural SPRINT program.

The program aims to develop women graduates in science to their fullest potential through personal and professional development. Many of the participants are currently undertaking or had recently completed their PHD.

Phil McColl, Head of Mining Australia and New Zealand BASF attended the final day of the program to help share his knowledge, offer guidance and network with the participants.

The program participants presented on what they learnt both personally and professionally from the course, with a particular emphasis on new skills they can apply to continue to develop themselves in the future.

Phil then joined in a panel discussion with other key leaders in STEM including Krista Imberger, Director - Industry and Stakeholder Engagement at Chemistry Australia, Daniella Kennedy, Leader of the new "Active Integrated Matter Future Science Platform" at CSIRO and Marcela Marquardt, HR Advisor at Agilent Technologies.

The conversation ranged from career pathways, to approaching role transitions through to advice on finding a mentor.

When discussing career pathways, some of the students questioned the value of completing their science studies if they wanted to pursue a career in business. Phil explained that the opportunities for a career in chemistry are more diverse than ever with businesses adapting what they look for when hiring people.

“I studied chemistry and started off working in labs, as my career progressed I developed my business skills and moved into the corporate space. My lab experience and chemistry knowledge is still beneficial in my role today, that hands on experience has been invaluable in my career.

“Science and business are working together closer than ever so a science degree can have incredible value in a corporate role, if this is a pathway you want to pursue take the time to find the right business where you can achieve both,” said Phil.

Krista added that she believes there are three important pillars to focus on throughout our careers – technical skills, capabilities and personal approach. Graduating with a degree in Chemical Engineering, Krista has used her technical knowledge as a base to pave a pathway in industry-oriented roles, which also leverages her engagement skills and interest in sustainability and social license.

She explained that having a mentor was also an important part in helping develop her career.

“Diversity in a mentor is important – having a mentor from a different role or area can bring a new perspective,” said Krista.

“It’s important to get the right mentor fit for you, and if it doesn’t feel right don’t be afraid to move on – mentoring needs to be right for both the mentor and mentee,” Phil added.

The SPRINT participants all had incredibly positive feedback from their experience, saying they had learnt a lot both personally and professionally, and had new skills and confidence to pursue their chosen career paths.