How long have you been a member?
I have been a member since March 2005, so almost 6 years.
Why did you join JCI?
I was a Research Chemist at the time and convinced of my potential to be a good team leader at the company I worked for. However, they felt that as I didn’t have the experience they couldn’t give me the opportunity to demonstrate my abilities. That way I would never progress my career. Then I heard about JCI (by chance) and immediately recognised the potential to learn additional skills, get involved in projects and demonstrate (to myself as well as others) that I could indeed lead a team.
What is the most interesting JCI event you’ve been to and why?
That’s a difficult one, as I have been to so many interesting ones. Top of the list though must be the international events like European Conferences and European Capitals Meetings. My best training experience has been European Academy, which is aimed at incoming Local Presidents: excellent trainers and training events, fantastic people and networking opportunities.
Has JCI presented any unusual/interesting opportunities?
That has to be my career change. Although I joined JCI to increase my chances of career progression to team leader in Chemistry, I had acquired all these great transferable skills through taking on leading roles on (international) projects and by being Local President. Realising I would not be able to put them into practice at my company, I decided to look for another job outside chemistry. Chance had it that I met my next employer, Marcus Orlovsky, at the European Conference in Budapest in 2009 who was a very inspiring speaker and mentioned they were looking for more staff. His drive and passion to improve learning environments at schools in the UK matched my desire to create positive change through my work. If it wasn’t for the transferable skills I acquired through JCI that career change would simply not have been possible.
What do you enjoy most about being a JCI member?
The opportunities for continuous personal development, meeting people from all walks of life and hearing their personal stories, working with other driven members who volunteer their time to help others whilst developing their skill set, and above all the supportive environment to expand your comfort zone and to become the person you can be.
Is there anything you have done as a JCI member that you never would have thought possible before you joined?
Where to begin…? Leaving chemistry after my Ph.D. and 7 years industrial experience to a job for which I had no experience or qualifications. Having dinner at the House of Commons and House of Lords (and speaking at the House of Lords!). Taking part in public speaking and debating competitions (and being quite good at it). Having an extensive international network of people many of whom I can proudly say I call friends.
What does becoming a senator mean to you?
Whilst I still feel that I have not done enough for JCI to deserve this great honour, it has given me the perfect opportunity to do just that: continue ‘giving’ and taking part, and be part of this great organisation after I age out (which is not that far away).
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Sarah Beckwith