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Stella Collins

 

Creative Director, Stellar Learning

 

STEM is so varied that you can start off on one track and find yourself down another. Take the opportunities it offers.

What do you do?

I am director of a training company.  We train people, particularly in technical roles, to improve their communication skills and performance.  We use ideas from psychology and neuroscience to build ‘brain friendly’ training programmes that make learning ‘sticky’. 

Why did you choose this field?

At school I liked science and arts but realised that it’s harder to continue studying science on your own whereas I could pursue my interest in the arts extracurricularly.  So I studied sciences at A level, got a BSc in Psychology, an MSc in Human Communication and eventually found myself working in Information Technology because it was a growing sector at that time.  I loved it and never thought to get involved in training but I employed an inspirational trainer who convinced me that training was all about psychology and I took the leap to change roles. And found my niche because it’s such a varied role where I continue to learn every day. We use a lot of cognitive psychology and neuroscience in what we do but translate it into practical activities and business orientated language for our audience.

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

I have moved to Spain to live and work and learn Spanish and it has partly been made possible by the magic of the internet because it’s now so easy to communicate at a distance.  Younger me would not have known it was going to be possible to use Skype etc but maybe that’s the point – have your dreams and future technology may make them far easier than you can imagine right now.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love the constant progress of discovering new knowledge and research and every day I find a new piece of neuroscience that helps me create better training programmes to help our clients be more successful and do better business.  I’m not involved in doing research but I am involved in sharing it and applying it to real workplace challenges.

Best advice for the next generation

STEM is so varied that you can start off on one track and find yourself down another – it’s always possible to switch streams and find something that works for you at whatever stage you’re at in your life. Take the opportunities that it offers you.

Role model 

My current hero is Santiago Ramon y Cajal – a Spanish Nobel prize winner.  He wanted to be an artist but his father insisted he studied medicine.  He combined the two by studying the brain and body, discovered neurons, practically started the science of Neuroscience and painted the most beautiful, accurate pictures of the brain that would grace any art gallery.