Early careers networking event

19th May, University of Manchester

The SAPC early careers working group held their first networking and career development day on the 19th of May, kindly hosted by the University of Manchester.

Fifteen researchers and five speakers joined Dr Helen Atherton (Warwick) and Dr Rebecca Morris (Manchester) from across the UK, with attendees coming from as far as Southampton and Glasgow. We kicked things off by getting everyone talking – Joanne Reeve, Chair of SAPC and Associate Clinical Professor at Warwick hosted a session on your ‘2 minute pitch,’ forcing us all to think about how we sell ourselves, and our research. We were told to pitch this to Bill Gates, who for the purpose of the event was represented by Prof Pete Bower from Manchester... he made a great philanthropist. Our three groups each offered up a ‘willing’ volunteer to give their two minute pitch to the group, and we voted for a winner. Amy Blakemore from Manchester won us over with her plea for funding for mental health in primary care.  

It was already time for lunch, and this gave everyone an opportunity to chat - one aim of the event was to facilitate networking between early career researchers from different departments  - a good way to forge the collaborations of the future.

The afternoon session showcased our speakers. First up Joanne Reeve and Pete Bower gave us a rundown of their career trajectories to date. Reassuring to hear that the path to greatness is rarely linear, and often much more interesting.

Jenni Burt, Senior Research Associate at Cambridge, shared her views and experience of the rocky road to grant funding. Using the analogy of Odysseus we were taken on a journey. My personal highlight was the likening of the higher powers to Athena and Poseidon – say no more. Prof Harm Van marwijk took us on a journey through International primary care, imploring us to consider international conferences like WONCA as well as the usual UK based conferences. Finally Prof Kate O’Donnell, SAPC Chair elect and Professor of Primary Care Research and Development at Glasgow talked us through team working and collaboration, something that often presents challenges. Developing good relationships is key and we hope that events like this will allow today’s early career researchers to form tomorrow’s collaborations, with their new found mates, of course.

We are very grateful to our speakers for sharing their stories and their time to make this event happen. We also want to thank the Centre for Primary Care at Manchester for hosting us. We hope this will be a regular event so look out for the next one and we hope to see you there.