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Gemma milne

Technology and science writer

 

And - Co-founder of podcast and events organisation, Science: Disrupt; International speaker; one of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers

Don't ever let anyone tell you what you're interested in isn't interesting. You know it is and that is enough.

What do you do?

"I write and speak about amazing new advances in science, tech and startups and how they affect society." 

I write for places such as Forbes, BBC, The Guardian, CNBC etc; I speak at international conferences such as SXSW, TEDx, Cannes Lions etc; I have just started writing a book about hype and idealism in science and tech - should be published in 2020; I consult with Innovate UK and the European Commission on startup investment - particularly in biotech; I also am co-founder of Science: Disrupt - a podcast and events organisation all about connecting the innovators, iconoclasts and entrepreneurs creating change in science. 

Why did you choose this field?

"Space School really made me understand I wasn't strange for liking these topics." 

Science has always been my first love. My Grandad and my Dad are both stonemasons and they instilled in me a real love of maths - I studied maths at St Andrews University. My Mum studied human biology at university and although I didn't love it when I was in school, a lot of what I write about now is life sciences related!

 

I went to Space School when I was 17 - a group of 26 Scottish students were selected, and we went to NASA Houston for 10 days. For me, that really opened my mind to the possibility of having a career in this space. After university, I actually ended up in Investment Banking and then Advertising (I also have a love for business and for art).

It wasn't really until 2016 that I 'came back' to science by starting Science: Disrupt. When I was made redundant from my job in a corporate innovation team in 2016, I knew that this was the time to focus my efforts on what I loved most - science and tech. The rest is history really..!

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Probably the amount I travel with work - I grew up in a small town in Scotland and I never really had ambitions to travel - mainly because I didn't really know it was an option. I'm not sure I really wish younger me knew any differently though - I am so happy with the choices I've made / fell into throughout my life - as it's the only reason I'm here right now doing what I'm doing! 

Why do you love working in STEM?

Who doesn't want a job that literally means feeling a sense of wonder every single day. I wake up looking forward to learning new incredible things, and having the privilege of telling the world about them.

Best advice for the next generation

Don't listen to anyone who says it's lame / it makes you boy-ish / it isn't for you. I was so lucky that my parents and teachers never let me believe that narrative, but I know many people who succumbed to those falsities and stopped being interested at a young age. Don't ever let anyone tell you what you're interested in isn't interesting. You know it is and that is enough. 

Fun fact

Watch TED talks - I started watching them in high school and I was totally inspired. You can literally hear about ANYthing, at any point. Keep your mind open to all options.