"Toss the imposter syndrome in the bin! You don’t need it – it won’t help you" - A conversation with Dr Alison Todd FTSE
On the 9th of December, ATSE’s Industry Mentoring Network in STEM program (IMNIS) hosted their final event for 2021, IMNIS Interconnections: In conversation with Dr Alison Todd FTSE.
Dr Alison Todd FTSE is a dynamic ATSE Fellow and industry leader. She is co-founder and the Chief Scientific Officer of SpeeDx, a company that manufactures and sells innovative tests for detecting infectious pathogens and identifying antibiotic resistance. Dr Todd’s passion for inventing faster, simpler, more cost-effective technology for molecular analyses and diagnostics has opened the door for personalising therapy. Todd is a strongly committed mentor of early-career scientists and entrepreneurs, and also advocates for greater diversity and inclusion in STEM.
IMNIS Interconnections was a celebratory event where ATSE’s IMNIS team highlighted the achievements of the entire IMNIS network for 2021, including expanding the IMNIS Engage program to all STEM disciplines in line with ATSE’s Forums; launching IMNIS Catalyst, a new alumni Ambassador program, and working towards the early 2022 launch of a new internships program, IMNIS Ignite.
Three of ATSE’s inaugural IMNIS Catalysts, Catriona Nguyen-Robertson, Dr Nick Hong Seng Lee and Dr Edith Botchway led an insightful and inspiring discussion with Dr Todd. Alison shared her thoughts openly and honestly, including a wide range of advice from her extensive industry experience in research and development. In particular, Dr Todd reflected on feeling like an imposter when starting her company SpeeDx following her redundancy at Johnson & Johnson.
“I’ve been guilty of feeling like an imposter but I also would like to say it is a complete waste of time, we should endeavour to shed that label and shed those feelings.
“Those feelings just hold you back. You are putting your own unconscious bias forward and driving misconceptions.
“Rather than indulge those feelings we need to self-advocate, clearly articulate our aspirations for career development, recognise our individual and unique capabilities and truly understand what tangible advantages we bring to businesses and organisations.”
Dr. Todd also spoke at length about the future of STEM and the future role and contributions of IMNIS mentees and PhD students more broadly.
“Younger people always make me smile, I absolutely love mentoring and working with younger people and working with them, helping them grow.
“I am extremely optimistic for all your futures! I recognise that your generation is going to face massive challenges on a global scale and the planet is going to need solutions, so us ‘oldies’ really need you guys to be clever and resilient and to rise to these challenges.”
When reflecting on technologies of the past, Alison had this piece of advice for the IMNIS mentees in the meeting.
“My grandmother saw the transition from horse drawn buggies to car, and I witnessed the first space travel. You are probably going to be whizzing around on jetpacks before long so technology is great fun and it’s your time to shine, to invent, to develop and to implement.
“Go hard and enjoy the ride no matter your mode of transport!”
ATSE is grateful to Dr Alison Todd FTSE for sharing her time and energy as our special guest speaker for IMNIS Interconnections and also for her ongoing passion, leadership and commitment as a longstanding IMNIS Mentor.
“You guys are the next generation of pioneers in your field. Stay curious” Dr Alison Todd FTSE