E-forum targets future leaders

July 13, 2001

A pioneering online networking project for young managers is seeking science academics to participate in discussion forums.

The Tomorrow's Leaders programme, launched by the Society of Chemical Industry, hopes to help high-fliers gain a wider perspective of science-based industry. Its website will offer a series of interactive online activities, including networking with peers from across the world and access to key business and academic opinion formers.

Participants will be able to challenge senior industrialists and scientists in "The Boardroom", an e-discussion forum. Academics are needed to lead a series of discussions being planned for next year. Charles Holliday, chairman and chief executive officer of Dupont and chair of the SCI in America, is among the business leaders confirmed to participate.

Richard Denyer, general secretary of the SCI, said the thrust of the programme was to promote a dialogue between different sectors across science and business.

"When speaking with 20 to 30-year-olds about what they most need in their careers, a frequent answer has been a broader perspective on what is happening in the wider areas of science and technology," he said.

"The crossover in areas such as biotechnology, food, materials, energy and pharmaceuticals fuels a need for networks covering both academia and industry. The main aim of Tomorrow's Leaders is to promote such networks among young people who often do not have the opportunity to make important contacts until they reach more senior levels."

Mr Denyer said postgraduate researchers, especially those working in industry-university research centres such as Questor at Queens University, Belfast, would have much to contribute and to gain from the project.

In the opening webcast, SCI world president Thomas Swan welcomed participants with the message: "You have the power to effect the future of science, industry and communities around the world. To realise your full potential and grow into this significant role, it is vital that you develop wider perspectives on the future."

Tomorrow's Leaders, launched as a European pilot project in 1998, has been rolled out globally. It will feature online discussions on stakeholder expectations and sustainability; book and lecture reviews; and tips for success from industry leaders.

The SCI was set up in London and New York in the 19th century, and has 7,000 members in 70 countries, 20 per cent of whom are academics.

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