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Karyn Sansom

STEM Ambassador and IET Education Officer Karyn Sansom was the worthy winner of the 2021 IET Core Values Award for Excellence.

She earned it in recognition of the phenomenal support she provided during the pandemic to our Education team, our partners, young people, and the next generation of engineers.

Qualifications in Electronics and Electrical Engineering, as well as Telecommunications, have served Karyn well in a variety of demanding job roles during the last 18 years.

She is currently leading a major finance transformation project as Change Management Lead at global technology services provider NTT Ltd.

Sharing experiences to broaden horizons

Karyn decided to get involved in volunteering during a career break in 2018. “I agreed to support a school with mock interviews and CV writing,” she said.

“That’s when it dawned on me that many young people have no idea of what work life is really about and aren’t aware of the wealth of amazing career opportunities that STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] can open up.

“It saddened me to see that girls weren’t being supported at home or at school when they expressed an interest in engineering. I wanted to show that it is possible to succeed in life as a female – and as a Black woman.”

Three years later, Karyn’s desire to inspire young people remains undiminished: “I want to bring about change. More importantly, I want to support teachers and group leaders who may not have the work experience that I have and so are not able to share real STEM stories or bring things to life.

“I want to inspire all young people, regardless of their ethnicity or gender. I share my experiences to broaden their horizons. I want them to understand that their career is not something that a teacher suggests or a parent wants them to do. Their future is their own.”

Supporting our partners

During the COVID crisis, Karyn responded with speed and agility to a significant number of requests for support from our Education team.

She provided high-quality virtual support to numerous education partners and promoted IET Education resources at every available opportunity.

Teach First is a charity that aims to build a fair education for all and to unlock the potential in all children, not just some. In November 2020 Karyn was featured in its Career Leaders Video.

“I had to answer questions about the IET and its purpose, how it supports STEM education, and my role as an IET Education Officer,” she said. “I highlighted IET events and resources, as well as tips for school career leaders, including reaching out to networks.

When I viewed the recording, I realised that I become very animated when speaking on topics that I am passionate about!” Karyn represented the IET at Teach First’s April 2021 Female Empowerment event, taking part in a discussion with other guests, students, and teachers:

“I used language the students could understand and chose stories that I knew they could relate to. I really enjoyed hearing other people’s stories too.” She also helped develop a Teach First/British Science Association (BSA) toolkit for STEM Ambassadors

STEM Learning aims to provide world-leading STEM education for all young people in the UK.

Working with this organisation, Karyn provided guidance on mentoring for the BSA CREST scheme, which inspires young people to think and behave like scientists and engineers.

She also delivered a talk on how best to support community groups.

Promoted diversity in the curriculum and created learning materials for Black History Month.

Explored with East of England STEM how to implement a science capital approach.

Took part in a neurodiversity-themed webinar run by police in the East regions, and participated in a discussion about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on volunteering

Education and Employers is an independent UK-based charity that aims to encourage young people to become excited by learning, recognise their potential, and make informed decisions about their future.

Karyn conducted mock interviews with young people; provided guidance on writing CVs; delivered career insight and STEM talks; took on a trustee role at a special educational needs school; and participated in many forums to improve engagement with schools and provide guidance

Stemette is a social enterprise that aims to inspire the next generation of females and non-binary people to take up a career in STEM.

Karyn mentored a student in Ireland for four months; conducted mock interview and gave CV advice at an online event; delivered introductory talks to students joining the Stemette programme, and provided guidance to mentors

Brightside Mentoring is a national online scheme that connects trained mentors with young people who are exploring options for their future. Karyn mentored two students for four months.

The list goes on and on…

Excellence is the watchword

Karyn is a worthy winner of the 2021 IET CVA for Excellence and a true difference-maker.

Our Teach First education partner provided glowing feedback: “Having Karyn at the Women’s Empowerment Event was fantastic – it’s so important and far too rare at the moment for girls to meet successful women, particularly those who are working in STEM. 

Karyn’s insights into her industry and her openness in the discussion section gave students a really valuable experience.”

“When I agree to something, I do so only if I believe I can fully commit to the task and deliver at the highest possible standard,” she said. “If I believe I will fall short, I will call it out and offer alternatives. However, I will at times stretch myself where alternatives are not feasible!

“For me, volunteering is all about inspiring others, promoting STEM across the spectrum, communicating effectively and with purpose, being a good role model, influencing people, and encouraging innovative thinking.

“What I like most about it is the opportunity to make a difference to someone’s life, whether that’s helping a teacher who’s struggling to get the STEM message across, supporting a student with their UCAS application, being an advocate for the Engineering Education Grant Scheme application or putting a twinkle into the eyes of a five-year-old because they have finally succeeded in making a torch!”

Karyn offers the following advice to anyone considering becoming an IET volunteer: “Volunteering requires time and dedication, but it is not beyond your reach.

You can spend as much or as little time volunteering as you can afford: you can run a mock interview in as little as 15 minutes, and you can speak to a group of students about your career and answer questions in as little as 30 minutes.

“Start off with a couple of hours’ volunteering every three months and see where it takes you…”

Find out how we’re supporting STEM education and email ieteducation@theiet.org to learn how you can get involved.