One Tech World Speaker Spotlight - Sarah Chapman

One Tech World Conference Speaker Spotlight: Sarah Chapman, 3M

OTW - Speaker Spotlight, Sarah Chapman

WeAreTechWomen speaks to Sarah Chapman, Technical Manager & North Europe STEM Champion, 3M, about her career.

Sarah is also one of our speakers at our upcoming One Tech World conference on 01 April 2022. Sarah will be discussing how stars and streetlights can illuminate diverse STEM careers

In her talk, Sarah shares the latest findings from 3M’s State of Science Index, showing that science is giving people hope for the future, and says that there has never been a better time to encourage more women and girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). She believes that the key to this lies in diverse, authentic role models who tell stories that relate science and technology to our everyday lives, creating a spark in a young person’s mind that lasts a lifetime. She also explores the representation of women in the STEM industry and, by sharing her own career story, explains how skills such as creativity, communication and collaboration are just as important as technical qualifications.

A technical manager at global science company 3M and corporation board member at Farnborough College of Technology, Sarah was described as a natural dancer growing up and initially pursued a career in ballet.  Injury and an inspirational chemistry teacher led to a change of direction and she went on to pursue a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  Since graduating from the University of Southampton, with a first-class degree in Chemistry, and joining 3M as an application engineer, she has won multiple awards for her work as a STEM volunteer and diversity role model. She enjoys using her scientific skills in a collaborative, commercial environment and has held a variety of technical roles at 3M including approvals administrator, technical service engineer, regulatory specialist and build project manager for a multi-million-pound Customer Innovation Centre.  She currently leads an international team of application engineers within the Industrial Tapes and Adhesives Division.  As a mum of young children, Sarah is a passionate champion and role model for flexible working.  She is a gold level #IamRemarkable trainer and speaks publicly on the importance of diversity to drive innovation.  Sarah chairs the 3M EMEA Technical Women’s Leadership Forum and is the STEM Champion for 3M North Europe.  Globally, 3M has pledged to create five million unique STEM and Skilled Trades learning experiences for underrepresented individuals by the end of 2025.

This year, we are going to be bringing you the very best global virtual learning experience on a state-of-the-art conferencing platform. Our conference will provide ample opportunities to learn about emerging technologies and what is innovating and disrupting the industry. We are blessed to be given time from some of the world’s finest speakers who will be joining us to share their wisdom and knowledge. We will deliver innovative sessions on a variety of different areas of tech, with a side order of career development, fireside chats and ample networking opportunities, both on the day and through our global virtual networking world.

One Tech World Virtual Conference 2022

01 APRIL 2022

Join us for keynotes, panels, fireside chats, networking opportunities and much more. Supported by 18 corporate sponsors, with over 120 sessions and 160+ speakers across 6 stages – plus watch it on-demand for 30 days!


Can you tell us a little about your background? Where you’ve come from, where you’ve worked, how you got to where you are today?  

Growing up I was told I was a natural dancer; no one ever told me I was a natural scientist! I took chemistry because my dad said it was a difficult subject and I wanted to prove I could do something different.  It was only when a teacher who had worked in industry explained how she had used chemistry to keep the taste consistent in a well-known fruit drink, despite differences in the harvest, that science became relatable to me, and applied technology has been a passion ever since.   

Before moving into technical management, I worked as an application engineer, regulatory specialist, and project manager so I have done a variety of roles but always technical – I love the problem solving but have found softer skills like collaboration and communication, are just as important as the technical ones.  

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

To a certain extent – but rather than planning detailed career steps, a mentor once gave me a simple one-page template which I have used ever since and share with all my mentees.  It documents what you love to do, what you dislike, what your verified strengths are and what you are looking to do more of.  It’s a useful tool to refer to when opportunities present and helps you better communicate your aspirations to people who can help you in your career.     

What inspired you to get involved with motivational speaking?

Diversity drives innovation and innovation gives us hope for the future – that is why I am a passionate advocate for diversity in STEM and take any opportunity to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in tech.    

Do you have a favourite experience from your career?

Managing the design and build of the 3M Customer Innovation Centre – it brings science and technology to life and is a very inspirational space.   

What do you think WeAreTechWomen guests will gain from your talk?

At the conference I’ll share results from 3M’s State of Science Index, showing that science is giving people hope for the future.  I will also talk about the importance of diverse, authentic role models who tell stories that relate science and technology to our everyday lives. Role models can be stars that shine brightly overhead and give us something to aspire to. But, just as important, are the streetlights – those role models and mentors closer to home who hold our hands and help us take the next small step. I hope that the audience will find the insights from the State of Science survey interesting and that it will inspire them to be stars or streetlights for others.  

Find out more:

What are your top 3 tips for success? 

  1. Have more than one mentor – they can all teach you different things  
  2. Be visible and different – look for opportunities to stand out 
  3. Write up how you will cite something on your CV/appraisal/Ta-Dah list – before you have done it – it will help you to prioritise and gain clarity 

What has been your biggest challenge during your career?  

Confidence – I have Imposter Syndrome every time I start something new, especially given my unusual journey into science.  The #IamRemarkable workshop really helped me to understand why I feel like that and why it’s important that women don’t let it hold us back.  In fact, I was so inspired that I trained as a facilitator.   

Which female role models are you most inspired by?

I have a pretty long list of inspirational mentors, sponsors and role models collected over a fifteen-year career but one of the public figures that inspires me is Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE.  This is not because she is an amazing space scientist (I am a chemist and generally more interested in zooming in on things than big picture space stuff) but for her work in STEM outreach. I love how she makes science accessible and relatable.  She presents the BBC programme Sky at Night and talks to schools about the power of dreams.  She describes herself as “a dyslexic black kid from a council estate” and she is not afraid to be herself.  Whilst on mat leave, I watched a talk online that she did whilst cuddling her baby daughter – it was a refreshing antidote to the endless images of stressed-out working parents.    

In your opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for women at work and how can it be overcome?

Lack of visibility and access to relatable role models and sponsors.  I believe that everyone needs stars and streetlights – stars to inspire us and show us what is possible – and streetlights to guide us and help us find a path through the everyday challenges, like balancing work and home, speaking up with confidence, preparing for promotion and finding sponsors.   

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

Wider access to affordable, flexible, high-quality childcare.   

What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?

I remember Claire Vyvan from Dell gave a talk to our tech forum around the time I was returning from my first maternity.  Something she said stayed with me: “Have no regrets”.  Change things if you need to or can but don’t waste time or energy on regret.  Make the best of your situation and enjoy the journey.   


BAE Systems 2021 logo


One Tech World Sponsors 2022 (5)

Rising Star alumni & 3M

Rising Star alumni and sponsors, 3M, help inspire students into STEM

Rising Star alumni & 3M

WeAreTheCity's 2020 Rising Stars in Science and Engineering alumni helped inspire Year 9 students in Leicestershire, through 3M’s STEM careers Q&A.

3M sponsors the Science and Engineering category of the Rising Star Awards programme, championing females working in the industry who help to highlight the wide range of STEM careers available.

The Q&A session was attended by teachers from Soar Valley College, the Jameah Girls Academy and South Charnwood High School who put forward questions to the panel on behalf of their students. In addition, questions from students attending Orchard Mead Academy and Lancaster Academy were invited.

Amber O’Connor, Hannah Ratcliffe, Katie Burnell and Rebecca Cocklin were joined on the panel by 3M’s Sarah Chapman, EMEA market segment Application Engineering manager for the Industrial Adhesives and Tapes Division and a Science and Engineering Rising Star in 2016.

Rising Star banner

During the session, the Rising Stars were asked a wide range of questions, covering topics such as the skills and qualifications needed to become an engineer; what they enjoy most about the job; who inspired the panellists to study STEM subjects; and how much they earn.

The event was promoted to local schools by the Leicestershire Education Business Company. The organisation’s STEM manager, Judith Payne, said, “The Rising Stars were all fabulous."

"They gave some really interesting and thought-provoking answers to the questions, especially around how doing projects outside their comfort zone has helped them to develop new skills.”

Watch a recording of the session below

Nominations for the 2021 Rising Star Awards are now open.

Now in its seventh year, the Rising Star Awards are the first to focus on the UK’s female talent pipeline below management level. Our strategic goal, set in 2015, aims to showcase 1,000 outstanding women by 2022. By highlighting the accolades of these women, WeAreTheCity are not only promoting the amazing female talent that exists across the UK, but actively encouraging organisations and business leaders to invest in and recognise these women as leaders of tomorrow and individual contributors to their respective industries.

These awards will recognise and celebrate a further 100 female individual contributors from over 20 different industries that represent the leaders and role models of tomorrow. These winners will join our award’s alumni of 650 previous winners, across the UK and India.

New for this year, we are also excited to introduce a new “Global Award for Achievement” category to our awards to expand our search for global talent. This category is a female individual who works within any industry, outside of the UK, whose current position is below director level.

Alongside these categories, we are also calling for nominations for Champions, Men for Gender Balance and a Company of the Year. Our Champion award recognises the achievements of five senior individuals, of any gender, who are actively supporting the female pipeline outside of their day job. Nominations for this award are individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to gender, e.g. HeForShe supporters, network leaders, directors, MD’s & C-Suite individuals who are championing women either inside or outside their organisations.

The Men for Gender Balance category is for men who are championing women and gender balance either inside or outside their organisation. Nominees must be at least Director level (or equivalent) or above, and must demonstrate that they have actively supported the female pipeline either through their current work role or external activities.

The Company of the Year award recognises the achievements of a company who can clearly demonstrate that they are actively supporting its female talent pipeline through their initiatives, training, development programmes and internal employee relations and diversity network groups.

You can find out more and nominate here.

Claire Donoghue

Claire Donoghue | 3M

Claire Donoghue

Dr Claire Donoghue works for the Corporate Research Lab at 3M, where she is researching disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer vision to invent and engineer new products.

She is currently the Technical Team Lead for AI in the EMEA region, where her innovations at 3M have had a global impact.

Prior to this, she completed her PhD in computer vision and machine learning at Imperial College London. Computer vision is a discipline in which engineers teach a computer to “see” and interpret images, giving computers capabilities analogous to human vision. Her first major innovation was during her PhD, where she created world leading computer vision algorithms to automatically diagnose arthritis of the knee from medical scans.

Claire’s work has been recognised by 3M awards, as well as by the IET, IMechE, RAEng, WeAreTheCity and Women In Business Magazine. For her academic work, Claire received 9 prizes for excellence in research and communication, a fellowship from the Software Sustainability Institute and was awarded two research grants to continue developing these algorithms for commercialisation. The most prestigious competition was SET for Britain (now STEM for Britain) and targeted the public communication of science, held at the Houses of Parliament, attended by MPs and awarded by the RAEng.

Claire co-founded and directed the London Chapter of the Geekettes. The London Geekettes' goal is to champion and promote excellent women in technology, highlighting the achievements of inspirational female leaders. She conceived and hosted events, attended by 100-300 people, usually ‘sold-out', collaborating with contacts in industry (Facebook, Google, Winton Capital and more) to fund the events and secure event space. One of the most memorable events was a hackathon for girls aged between 6 and 16, where they transformed creative ideas in to reality using Scratch and Python. Claire also supports collaborators’ STEM events by presenting her engineering work at Science Festivals and evening events.

Claire actively participates in technical communities outside of 3M. She regularly attends technical conferences, has been a keen participant in several hackathons and co-MC’ed London’s TechCrunch Disrupt Hack 2016 and Berlin TechCrunch Hack 2017, both attended by hundreds of software engineers.