Giuliamonica Leonardi: Biotechnology Committee and Membership Affiars Committee

12 Jan 2015

Giuliamonica Leonardi joined SCI in 2013. She was elected as an ordinary member of the Membership Affairs Committee in 2014. In 2014, she was also co-opted to the Biotechnology Committee. Giuliamonica studying for a Masters degree in Research in Organic chemistry: Drug Discovery at UCL. 

If you want to find out more about Giuliamonica 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 below.

When and why did you become a member of SCI?
I joined SCI two years ago. I was planning to come and study in the UK and I figured this was the easiest way to get involved in local events and establish a good network in science and not only in my specific field of study. 

Last but not least, SCI members benefit from great discounts on events and books.

Why did you decide to get involved in an SCI Committee?
After a year I was participating as actively as possible from Rome, I enjoyed being member but I wanted to do something more. I realised that there was a lack of young active members in the Society (especially undergraduate students) and I personally think that it is wrong. I joined the Membership Affairs Committee because I would like to see more young students at the events and I hope that my involvement could encourage them to participate. Young students actually have more interest in establishing a professional network than postgraduates. Being part of a large society such as SCI looks good on a CV and also helps to choose the career path to follow, and getting involved in an SCI Committee is a way to be around people who are interested in the same things as you are.

How do your SCI activities reflect your personal/professional interests?
Being a member of a standing committee like the Membership Affairs Committee is very much like being part of a sport team. I have been in a synchronized swimming team for nine years. I like to collaborate and work in a group and here at SCI we all do our best to create a better Society for future members.  When I first joined SCI I was asked to pick two interest groups. It has been a really difficult decision because I wanted to be part of many more. I am involved today in the Biotechnology interest group and the Young Chemists Panel. Both reflect my current professional situation and help me keep updated on how my field of study is evolving in the world. New discoveries, check points and a wide network are just part of the deal.

What has driven your continued involvement?
Chemistry is a really demanding subject. I speak for myself when I say that you have to love the subject to get through the degree. Getting involved in a society related to what you study is an interesting way to apply your knowledge while developing other skills such as management skills if you get involved in a Standing Committee. Plus, I enjoy meeting new people who are as passionate about their work as I am, people that dedicate their time to organize events even after a long week of stressful work.

How has being involved in SCI activities impacted on your career? 
Well, I decided to take part at my very first event Choosing the right target in Drug Discovery because I wanted to see a concrete application of Medicinal Chemistry and get some advice from experienced people in this sector.  At this event, I met three postgraduate students from Imperial College and they talked me into what it was like to study in the UK and more specifically about their postgraduate programme.  I started taking part in several events in this area, at each event I got the chance to meet people from different universities and today I am a postgraduate student at UCL. Guess what I study? I am enrolled in a Master of Research in Organic chemistry: Drug Discovery. Isn't that funny?

How do you think that your contribution has helped to shape your Group or SCI as a whole?
I would not say that I helped shape the Society (this will be way too pretentious of me) but I can say that I brought the point of view of an undergraduate. Very few undergraduates were members when I joined therefore maybe we could say that I played a role in making SCI more accessible to younger students. I have also brought an international presence in the Society and now I am thinking about bringing SCI to Italy by opening a new section in Rome.

By being involved on a committee, what opportunities have been presented to you which you would not have otherwise had?
Being part of committee is as much a responsibility as an amusement.  Along the way you will develop leadership skills and you will learn how to effectively stand for your ideas. At every meeting, budgets and events organization issues are discussed and everyone gets to have an opinion. Those skills are transferable to any employment you may get.  The fun part comes when there are decisions to be made about event topics. Often the choice is made among innovative and ground-breaking research advancements and having the chance to pick one of these brilliant ideas is a privilege for a scientist and an opportunity to learn something new every time. 

How do you balance your SCI commitments with your job and workload?
You find time for what you enjoy. As a student I have to organise a precise weekly schedule in which I have to include free time. It comes naturally. If you engage in an activity you make time for it. Besides, learning how to juggle with your schedule to make everything fit in is something we all need to face at some point. There are different ranges of commitments from being a volunteer from home to engaging in a Standing Committee and getting yourself more involved. I would advise to start with smaller responsibilities and add more to the package step by step.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt by being an SCI committee member?
There are many ways to solve a problem, different points of view from where to start, but to get the best result you need to look at whole picture. I believe this is what SCI tries to emphasise by supporting committees made from different kind of workers. The strength of SCI is that members cover different subject areas in science. It is a place 'where science meets business' where students meets professors, consultants and professionals. The contribution of each and every one of these people brings together different ways to work and makes the committee a full puzzle. SCI reflects every work environment where everyone has a role that relies on his/her competence that needs to be accompanied by everyone else's task completion to give the excellent result expected by the employer.

What advice would you offer to anyone thinking about becoming involved in an SCI Group or Standing Committee?
I was really shy when I joined SCI. Getting involved in social activities helps in developing a stronger personality and to build your confidence. A committee, with accomplished adults in academia and in the private sector, will take your skills and thoughts into consideration when making important decision. Moreover, you get to meet people with different educational backgrounds whilst always being updated on new issues in your field of interest. It is like opening a window on the future at each meeting while adding a new line on your CV. Do not be afraid to take on more responsibilities, your contribution will be appreciated and valued.

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