Virtual Speed Networking by the NSW Early Career Chemists Group

by William Li (Chair, NSW ECCG)

The NSW Early Career Chemists’ Group held its sixth event of 2020 on Thursday, 6th August, titled “Virtual Speed Networking”, in a Zoom Meeting session.  It was the first event under the “ECCG” name, having changed the name from YCG in July.

It was an event that aimed to bring together students and professionals from a range of industries. It was meant to be the ‘virtual version’ of the face-to-face Speed Networking events organised in previous years, which could not be rerun this year for obvious reasons. Here, Zoom breakout rooms were used to link up one professional to 2 or 3 students at a time, for 6-8 minutes, and each professional was then rotated to another room to meet another group of students. It did work out most of the time, though not without difficulties, when the order of professionals was not kept.

The professionals in attendance were Greta Petzfold (Envirolab), Carol Tadros (ANSTO), Rebecca Vogel (Shimadzu), Laksiri Andradi (Borg Manufacturing), Angelique Greco (IQVIA), Amanda Wang (Pallion) and Dave Sammut (DCS Technical) – the latter 2 filling in for professionals who withdrew in short notice.  From this line-up, 7 different industries were represented and with 7 different roles.

The attendance was lower than expected, despite the number of registrations exceeding the limit.  The lower attendance did allow the students to have closer interactions with the professionals.  In contrast to previous virtual events, there were very few participants from outside NSW, which included one all the way from Morocco.

The event was similar to the “Chemraderie” events that Dave runs, with some key differences.  One is that the breakout rooms were pre-assigned such that there was one professional in it at all times (except during transitions), as opposed to having the rooms being of completely random composition.  Another is the time for each interaction being shorter than the 15 minutes in Chemraderie, giving it a feel similar to a ‘virtual careers fair’, where people are vying to grab the little attention a recruiter often has – it is Speed Networking after all.  Lastly, there was a debrief in the end, which the professionals gave some feedback, good and bad, about the event, as well as to share one final piece of advice for the students, such as LinkedIn etiquette and being more open to a range of industries and/or roles and getting a role there, while also looking out for a more preferred industry and/or role later.

The ECCH would like to thank Greta, Carol, Rebecca, Laksiri, Angelique, Amanda and Dave for giving up their valuable time to share their insights and experience about their role and industry to a number of aspiring students and graduates.