I’m Natalie Crawley, and I am the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Manager for the Innovation Team in the Welsh Government. I am responsible for two programmes - KTP and SMART Partnerships - both of which are a core component of Wales’ offer to Welsh businesses.
These are business-led projects, encouraging innovative collaborative partnerships between a business, a research organisation (such as a University) and a lead associate to create, embed & exploit new ideas. It is my role to drive, lead, manage and develop these innovative programmes – I help businesses start their journey to an inspiring and rewarding collaboration and to build long-lasting and successful collaborations between the working and learning worlds.
The key challenge when I introduce these programmes is to make sure that people know and believe that this way of working will have a great impact – not just for the individual, but for all the partners. The culture I create and the experience I promote around these innovative programmes is important to make them work. I strive to be someone who opens a door for a business, a door never opened before, a door opening to new opportunities. The key to success is making sure that people want to listen, connect, and engage with these opportunities. The greatest challenge I face when I promote these programmes, is presenting them in a way that makes everyone feel they can benefit and get excited to adopt that new concept.
It is probably not a surprise, but for many women in similar roles to mine, confidence in your own abilities is key. Recognising what you are good at, what you are capable of - that takes time.
A great piece of feedback I once received, was that I had the potential to become good at things I found scary. In terms of boosting my confidence that really helped. That gave me the kick to do more presentations at public events, which I must admit I do not particularly enjoy. It is still not my favourite, but I put myself out there and I force myself to grow. I intentionally talk to groups that I have not met before - the fact that I am passionate and knowledgeable about my field really helps.
If you focus on your strengths when speaking in public, it really isn’t that bad. I have learnt that if you know your topic it is then about finding your style. Then things just start to click into place. I am lucky to love my job and enjoy working in the field of innovation. When work is something you care about, you get motivated talking about it and this really helps you connect to your audience. One thing that really stands out for me right now, in what is an unprecedented time globally, is compassion. Understanding what people are going through right now and showing that you recognise it. Setting 30 minutes aside to catch up with a colleague via a Teams meeting and just discussing anything other than work. Overnight, the way we work and live has changed, and this, combined with a global health pandemic requires us all to heighten compassion and recognise the needs of others both inside and outside our organisations.
This might sound obvious, but the new normal in working remotely requires everyone to adapt his or her way of working to bring a sense of togetherness. I am a full-time working mother of two children and flexibility has been key during the past year. Homeworking, home schooling along with that constant juggling act and guilt of making sure you are doing well at you job and that your children are still achieving outside of the school environment. I know my situation is the same as that of thousands of women in a similar role or any role for that matter. Innovation is a fast and exciting area to work in but whatever your area of work I encourage all women to believe in themselves, build great connections and build their confidence in every way they can.
If this past year has taught me only one thing, we should be learning from this pandemic, continuing to develop when the current restrictions are no longer enforced. Carrying these practices forward will change how we work, innovate, connect, and collaborate in the future. For every woman in innovation this could most definitely be our time to grow!
KTP Manager, Welsh Government
Written in celebration of International Women's Day 2021 for the PraxisAuril blog series - Women in Innovation