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Women of Chemistry – Questions with Laura Brennand-Carter
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Women of Chemistry – Questions with Laura Brennand-Carter

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What is your role at Chemistry and what does that entail?

I’m our VP of Strategic Sales for North America. I am responsible for growing Chemistry’s brand reputation and our amazing client base here in the U.S.

How are you celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day?

I will be spending it pitching with the fabulous Caitlin Collins in Ohio! I’m also currently reading a book on the history of Ancient Rome called ‘SPQR’, by Mary Beard. It’s an insightful review of how western civilisation has been so largely influenced by the Romans. It also challenges with candor, the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries, their nuanced attention to class and gender, and how the lives of entire groups of people have been omitted from the narratives due to an engrained bias and inequality. Timely

Has there ever been a time in your career where you felt being a woman has held you back?

Yes. As a 23-year old female consultant, with no university degree, delivering a workshop on “people stuff” to 100 or so senior leaders (80% white, male, aged 40+) in a global financial services organisation. I quite literally felt their attention wane when I stood on stage and sadly, this is something I have experienced more than once in my career. But, I had prepared to the enth degree. I rehearsed my content and story-telling over and over until I was sick of hearing it. Half-way through the morning I had the room in the palm of my hand. I shouldn’t have had to experience that feeling when I came on, but the sense of self-achievement afterwards was pretty awesome!

And on the flip side, has being a woman ever been an advantage for you in your role?

I genuinely hope not. I hope whatever I have achieved I have earned because of who I am as a person, and the amazing talent (men and women) who I am continuously supported by. They are, quite frankly, the biggest enabler of my performance. So I hope that’s acknowledged, and if it’s not, I’m clearly doing them a disservice!

What advice would you give young women entering the world of work today?

Your grades don’t define your intelligence. Education takes on many forms and you should invest in it continuously. Create experiences with your education: be curious, read books, have an opinion and express it, unapologetically. Travel if you have the opportunity to do so. Practice empathy and understanding of other cultures, people and beliefs that are different to yours. I personally believe opening and expanding your mind beyond your work will help you bring your whole self into it. It makes you more adaptable and an all-round, better problem solver.

What do you think is the single biggest issue currently facing women/ feminism?

Limiting ourselves to the belief that there could be one issue that outweighs another. Like many people reading this, I come from a society where my struggles as a woman aren’t fathomable (and would in fact be even desirable) to that of someone from a different socio-economic background to me. Our experiences of gender discrimination (or any discrimination for that matter) are unique and so we should seek to educate those who don’t have the same perspective or experiences as we have had and use our influence for good. I would like to see more widespread education and media coverage on the issues that are facing women across the world, there simply isn’t enough of this. If we absolutely must prioritise, we should do so based on global consequence first and foremost, instead of always looking inwards.

If you were to start your career again what would you do differently?

Not take myself so seriously. I think women (and men for that matter) can sometimes hold such high expectations of themselves that they forget to enjoy the learning experience of career progression. We’re quick to judge ourselves negatively. Women are especially good at this! I’d also reassure my younger, adolescent self that mistakes are okay, that she should expect to make a lot of them, and that she’s right in thinking she will never be good at planning and organisation. Just leave that shit to someone else. 🙂

Who is a woman that inspires you and why?

A beautiful soul named Janine Davison-Evans. She lived with and looked after me and my siblings until I was 15. Janine was fiercely independent and adventurous. I always remember she achieved everything she set her mind to, worked hard because she wanted to (not simply through necessity) and approached all aspects of her life with an open mind and heart. Janine was also the kindest, most caring and gentle person you could meet which made her easy to adore and aspire to! She unexpectedly and tragically passed when she was just 27 and losing her was one of the deepest lows I have experienced in my life so far. The experience taught me a lot about myself and every day since then I remind myself that if I can experience life with even half of her sparkle, I’ll be doing alright!

What main change would you like to see for young girls in the next generation?

Well, firstly, I think young girls are becoming less tolerant of the societal stereotypes that have shaped our world today, and are becoming more empowered to speak up against them, which is a shift in the right direction. Personally though, I’d like to see more young girls take an interest in politics. Women are still widely under-represented in global politics. In 2017, Women made up just 19% of all members of U.S Congress. We desperately need more diversity of thought in leadership if we are to break down equality barriers at a global level. This starts with getting young girls to engage with the issues, to have a voice and grow up with a desire to influence change.

What is your go to girl power anthem?

Andra Day – Rise Up