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The RisingWISE program came along during a period of questioning and uncertainty during my academic career. I wanted to see what life outside a research-focused lab would be like and if there were other women asking the same questions about their career as me. The programme's themes of exploring entrepreneurial mindsets, meeting other women in STEM across Oxford and Cambridge and learning more about the rapidly developing start-up ecosystem appealed to me.

I went in with an open mind and genuinely gave each of the workshops my best shot and as a result, gained new insights into my strengths, new knowledge about collaborative strategies as well as specific skills on pitching, negotiation and networking. The environment was very supportive and inclusive and I found my confidence gradually shifting upwards. I didn’t realise how much of a difference the programme had made until a few months later when I found myself delivering a successful pitch on behalf of a start-up to a panel of investors, moving to New Zealand and essentially creating an academic position for myself by pitching my multi-faceted interests & strengths to a university panel.

The RisingWISE programme created an internal shift in me about how I perceive myself and my own impact – that I can choose and mould my environment to enable my success rather than trying to fit myself into traditional ways of thinking and performing. For me, that is the true meaning of ‘entrepreneurial mindset’.

Priyanka Dhopade

Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Auckland