Facilitation

Sarah clearly loves facilitating and this enthusiasm is infectious. At the meeting of 200 people in-person last week Sarah quickly got the room buzzing and generating ideas. I particularly liked the innovative way Sarah ran the speed meeting session and I met lots of interesting new contacts.

Gerard Davies, Senior Portfolio Manager, Energy and Decarbonisation Theme, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

As facilitator, I create buzzing events which focus researchers on real world challenges and stimulate new research projects.

I do this by structuring sessions to build trust and empathy between participants, move people gently outside their comfort zone, and focus group creativity on a satisfying end goal.  

I’m passionate about ensuring the real world benefits from research. I love spotting connections between disparate fields of research, and the satisfaction of helping to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts (i) through creating new connections between people and ideas and (ii) by inducing creativity through the time constraint of a meeting (iii) ensuring everyone’s voice is heard.

I bring over twenty years experience of organising research meetings, pioneering successful new formats based on practice across a range of disciplines. I co-founded the international cosmology discussion forum (CosmoCoffee >3000 members), ran a Workshop at the major computer science conference NIPS, and chaired the Meetings Steering Committee for the Dark Energy Survey converting its meetings of hundreds of researchers from mostly one-to-many presentations into mostly small-group dynamic sessions. I’ve been running video-conference meetings and hybrid meetings for over 15 years as part of international cosmology projects, and organised tens of in-person workshops / conferences. I particularly enjoy running effective speed-meeting sessions, and rolling out my prime number formula for mixing people up without seeing the same person twice. Ultimately though, it is my experience of effective chairing that makes the biggest difference: encouraging diverse voices, when to use my authority as a respected academic, and being able to understand and enthuse about contributions in a helpful way.    

Sarah has a true talent for creating a welcoming and engaging space, even online. I’m usually not a fan of networking events, but Sarah’s workshop was relaxed and productive and really changed my perspective! The breakout tasks were well-designed and stimulated meaningful interaction. I left feeling energised and more connected to my fellow participants.

Elta Smith, Director, Elta Smith Ltd

I am a physicist by training, with two decades of highly cited astrophysics research, followed by impactful international qualitative and quantitative research papers in agri-food and the environment. I have demonstrated my ability to quickly pick up new fields at a deep level, and create new connections in new areas.

I have operated at a leadership level in large international research projects as well as in departmental leadership, through which I have developed an understanding of how to create a sense of community, both online and in-person. 

Sarah clearly brings instant gravitas and intellect, but also understands how to shape the energy in a room – encouraging people to speak up yet keeping the pace going. I’ve been part of probably >100 meetings Sarah ran over the last two decades, from chairing zooms to running large conferences. I think what’s most impressive and important as a facilitator is that Sarah effortlessly handles disruptions and tech problems – even using them to help the group to gel.

Adam Amara – Head of Mathematics and Physics, University of Surrey

I’m curious to learn the background to your event and not afraid to provide constructive challenges to your assumptions about the best way of achieving your goals. Taking into account your particular preferences, I enjoy getting creative about designing engaging online spaces (e.g. Mural) or assembling suitable hardware that fits your venue (e.g. micro-suction whiteboards, postits, stickers).