Shortlisted spotlight: Innovation & Inspiration with Jacqui Murray

Innovation and Inspiration with Jacqui Murray

As Deputy Challenge Director for the Faraday Battery Challenge at Innovate UK, part of the national funding agency investing in science and research, a regular day for Jacqui Murray finds her at the forefront of cutting-edge advances in science. She is also a passionate advocate for diversity and uses her platform to champion diverse and inclusive workplaces, specifically within the STEM sector.

Jacqui answers our questions on innovation and inspiration, sharing her thoughts on how we can all contribute to creating a more equal world.

Please tell us a little about your company and the work you do as Deputy Challenge Director for the Faraday Battery Challenge?

Every now and then, your job collides with your passion. For me, this is what delivering the UK Government’s game-changing £246 million Faraday Battery Challenge feels like.

I work for Innovate UK, which is part of UK Research and Innovation. We work collaboratively with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible ecosystem for research and innovation to thrive. We’ve already seen £500 million of private investment in this space lead to over a thousand new jobs to mitigate climate change, tackle urban air pollution and build new clean energy opportunities and industries here in the UK.

No two days are the same! September saw me:

  • Discussing the future of electric cars with actor and EV advocate Robert Llewellyn (of Red Dwarf fame) at the Low Carbon Vehicle Event 2018 #LCV_Event2018
  • Talking with Lego about how we can encourage more STEM skills in the UK (I’m a keen #STEMambassador in my spare time, checkout the Facebook group Oldcastle STEM Network).
  • Welcoming International businesses to the Zero Emissions Vehicle summit in Birmingham and Millbrook, to showcase how exciting the UK is for battery engineering and investment.
  • And finally, launching a £25 Million competition for collaborative research and development projects for Electric Vehicle batteries! Follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter to find out briefing dates and more info!

The challenge is to make the most of the growing batteries market, estimated to be worth £5 billion in the UK and £50 billion across Europe by 2025.

If you, like Jacqui, are a keen STEM advocate why not fill out our 2018 #BridgetheGAP STEM Survey and help us get more women and non-binary people into STEM.

What has driven your passion for diversity in industry?

Equality is the right thing to do.  This is why it is made into law.  And we must fight for it.

But it is also the “smart” thing to do. A 2016 McKinsey analysis of 366 companies shows a statistically significant connection between diversity and financial performance. The companies in the top quartile for racial/ethnic diversity were 30% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median, and companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns that were above their national industry median.

So, by running the numbers, you see that diverse teams outperform homogenous ones.  Diversity is more than fairness and common sense – it is good business. Diversity teams can approach a problem from more perspectives, bringing a diversity of skills and intelligence to the solution. I’ll always take a 30% improvement in performance! These data confirm that companies whose leadership commits to embrace diversity, and who actively hire to become more diverse, are more financially successful.

Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and your favourite quote from them?

I read Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in school when I was 14. The terror and hardships she experienced as a child never stopped her from seeing the beauty in the world and making it brighter. I also just like the way she thinks. My favourite quote from her is, “We allow our ignorance to prevail upon us and make us think we can survive alone, alone in patches, alone in groups, alone in races, even alone in genders.”

What is the top challenge that you face as a woman, a mum and a leader in your industry?

In the 21st Century we are facing more rapid change than ever before. You see it in politics, technology and the gaps which we feel in our society and communities. The challenge, I think, is to make the 21st Century human. To offer leadership that has warmth, kindness and strength and to understand that there is power in enabling others to fly.

I strongly believe that trust is the currency of success now more than ever.

What advice would you give to other women?

Focus on adding value, getting the right stuff to happen and keep on learning. It’s a journey.

I can’t really remember the last time I said “no”. I always say “yes”, sometimes, I say “yes if…”. I look for help to deliver and build teams. Often the “yes” allows others to move forward; there is always a way and it does not always have to be me that delivers.

So, I always do a bit too much, but I keep my family close to me. I include them in my work and my work in their school (as a STEM ambassador). They always come first. This way, I can deliver more than I ever thought possible. Super powers are not required.

Jacqui is a shortlisted finalist in the Diversity Champion of the Year category at the North West, Wales & Ireland regional finals for our #FLNationalAwards

The mother of all awards #FLNationalAwards & Summit 2018 is coming to your region with events in Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, London and Leeds! It’s an inspirational programme showcasing diversity in business, recognising the doers, trailblazers & inclusive leaders across the UK. Join the conversation and don’t miss out – HERE