Marie Connor: Liverpool and North West Regional Group Committee

30 Apr 2015

Marie Connor joined SCI in 2000 and was elected as an ordinary member of the Liverpool & North West (L&NW) Regional Interest Group Committee in the same year. She became Honorary Secretary of the Liverpool & North West Regional Interest Group in 2006; a role that she has held ever since. Marie was awarded SCI’s Distinguished Service Award in 2014. Marie is the Site SHE Manager at Innospec Ltd; a Specialty Chemicals Manufacturer, based in Ellesmere Port, England

When and why did you become a member of SCI?
I became involved with the SCI Liverpool & North West Regional Interest Group (formerly the SCI Liverpool Section) in 1999, just after I started my first job as a graduate Process Engineer at ICI in Runcorn. One of my University Professors, who was a long-time SCI member, met up with me at ICI and asked if I would be interested in attending the next Liverpool Section committee meeting as the Section was looking for some ‘new blood’. I duly attended a few meetings to see what was happening and decided to join as an SCI member the following year.

Why did you decide to get involved in an SCI Committee?
After attending a few committee meetings I felt it was a little tedious for me if I didn’t actually get involved in helping out with something, so when I was asked by some fellow committee members to join the Programme Sub-Committee I decided to give it a go. After helping out with organising a few venues and posters for AGMs and family events, the first event I had ownership for myself was a lecture on The History of Beer. It was a really enjoyable evening, especially sampling some of the subject material afterward.

How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
I have worked in the chemical industry now for 16 years, I see the benefits of the industry, and feel very protective that this industry continues to thrive in the UK. My involvement with SCI allows me a means by which to promote this industry in a very enjoyable way.

On a personal level the involvement provides a social side; an opportunity to attend incredibly interesting events, to network with academics and other industrialists, and I feel I have developed a wonderful group of friends in my fellow committee members and SCI colleagues over the years.

What has driven your continued involvement?
After organising my first Regional Interest Group event, I felt I had found my niche. I enjoyed having ideas with the Sub-Committee for events, then going out and finding a venue, pulling together an event idea and getting on with it; catering, guests, invitations, preparations etc., to seeing it run smoothly and successfully on the night.

In 2006, during the merger between what were the Manchester and Liverpool Sections, to form the Liverpool & North West Regional Interest Group, the opportunity arose for me to become the Honorary Secretary of the newly formed Liverpool & North West Regional Group. As a natural organiser and grafter I have found that I really thrived at the role of Honorary Secretary for the L&NW RIG, and so it’s a position I’ve been happy to continue with ever since.

How has being involved in SCI activities impacted on your career?
As someone committed to improving the perception and image of the chemical industry, of which I am passionate and very protective about, my involvement in SCI has made me a very credible professional and I believe does give me a marketable edge in my career. The organisational and networking skills involved in the Secretary role are the type of skills that you cannot learn academically but which are essential in your professional career. Being involved in SCI gives me a chance to practice those skills in a non-competitive environment. My company see the benefit of my involvement in SCI not only in the image it presents to them about me, but also about the image of them I take forward in my SCI work.

They are always supportive and encouraging about my involvement by allowing me time to attend conferences, hosting committee meetings at the Ellesmere Port site and sponsoring local events. A number of our company Directors have also attended prestigious local SCI events.

They were incredibly proud of me in 2014 when I received the SCI distinguished Service Award, and wrote an article in the internal newsletter with their congratulations.

How do you think that your contribution has helped to shape your Group or SCI as a whole?
We have a vibrant committee team in the L&NW RIG and the people make it a joy to be involved. As a committee we successfully organise a prestigious endowed lecture every two years, alongside holding our usual annual events of our student prize-giving and the KickStart Your Career students and industrialists evening. We have developed excellent links with our local universities through the local events, which in turn gives us a chance to publicise SCI’s member benefits and ultimately generates more up and coming SCI members. We are regularly able to secure local sponsorship for many of our events which helps to reduce our burden on SCI.

This vibrancy in our RIG helps to support SCI’s aims and we regularly liaise with Technical Interest Groups to run joint events. We are very supportive of the Early Careers Support Sub Committee and the College of Scholars, and many of our committee members have been or are still involved on these forums, MAC, and the Board of Trustees.

In January 2015 there were 4 L&NW RIG committee members attending the SCI’s Landmark Programme launch, and we have already taken the ideas from this conference forward and are preparing for our own regional event which will support the aims of this Programme.

By being involved on a committee, what opportunities have been presented to you which you would not have otherwise had?
As noted above one of the key opportunities I have had is to develop skills such as organisation, networking and speaking publicly. This has helped me in my professional career.

I have had many opportunities to meet industrialists from other areas of expertise, and to work with academics and their institutions; both of which would not have happened without my involvement in SCI.

Being awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 2014 was a real highlight for me; I was thrilled to be even considered for this award, and having this under my belt has given me a new lease of energy to continue with my SCI involvement.

How do you balance your SCI commitments with your job and workload
In general my SCI commitments do not impact on my job; committee meetings and events are held in the evenings. For the odd occasion that I visit SCI, in Belgrave Square, for a conference or to speak, this is with the kind permission of my Company in recognition of what the networking opportunity and profile this raises about them with SCI and other delegates at such events. The time that I give therefore is my own. For the events we hold in the Liverpool & NW region this is not an arduous commitment: I generally attend 7-10 meetings or evening events per year.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt by being an SCI committee member?
How to be organised and efficient! The better the preparation e.g. for a meeting or event, then the smoother it will run, and it will also be much less stressful. The secretary role involves writing minutes, preparing agendas, contacting people for events etc., so getting on with things quickly while they are fresh in your mind is essential. Writing minutes as we go along in the meetings also reduces the time required afterwards. Having done the role for almost 9 years now I have got it just about as efficient as I can make it.

What advice would you offer to anyone thinking about becoming involved in an SCI Group or Standing Committee?
My advice would be to give it a try: you never know if it’s going to be for you unless you give it your best shot. I would advise attending a couple of meetings to see what type of things happen in that committee and thinking to yourself: ‘What can I do to help on this committee’ and also ‘What is going to keep me interested in this’. Get involved and work to your strengths – you may not be great at public speaking but be a brilliant organiser, or you may have great local knowledge and be able to come up with ideas. SCI would not be able to function without its volunteers so if you really are interested there is always some way, no matter how small, that you can help; and there’s nothing more rewarding than the satisfaction of a job well done!

If you want to find out more about Marie or get in touch with her, you can contact her via the Members’ Directory (you will need to sign in to view). If you need help searching the directory please click on the how-to guide.

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