Last Wednesday, IP Inclusive launched Women in IP, a new network founded as part of efforts to improve “equality, diversity and inclusivity” in the IP community.
The event, which took place at Norton Rose Fulbright’s office near London Bridge, featured an animated panel discussion about mentoring and networking and career development.
After the discussion, delegates moved upstairs for a drinks reception and an opportunity to exercise their networking skills, accompanied by stunning views of London landmarks by night.
The panel was led by Carol Arnold, former IP counsel at Shell and immediate past president of the IP Federation.
Arnold said that networking does not have to be an arduous task. Ultimately, it is about “finding someone you connect with”. This idea was echoed by the rest of the panel which featured representatives from IP law and regulation. They concluded that networking is meant to be useful and enjoyable.
In further discussions about networking, delegates heard that that while it is easy to overlook peers with a different IP background, networking with such practitioners could help you expand your breadth of IP knowledge.
Head of IP at ARM, Suzanne Oliver, encouraged delegates to take the initiative and ask someone to be a mentor. This was supported Arnold, who had recently retired and insisted that regardless of your level of expertise and experience, you can still benefit from a mentorship.
On the topic of inclusivity, Parminder Lally, European patent attorney at Turnbull Lynch Intellectual Property, shared her approach to networking.
Describing herself as a shy person, Lally said that she learned to adapt to different situations. With time, she grew in confidence, finding a style of networking that catered to her personality.
The panel offered practical tips which included bringing a colleague or friend to event and looking out for those who seem excluded from conversation. In a gathering which appears to be full of several closed groups, the panel encouraged delegates to join in with the conversation and start their own vibrant conversation, if all else fails.
The launch event was complemented by a great level of engagement from audience members. One delegate raised the topic of unconscious and implicit bias towards women in the profession.
In response, Jean Hughes, director of law firms at CPA Global, warned delegates about the damaging effects of bias against women among women. Hughes said that it was important to her to avoid bias of any kind, be it for or against women.
Benefits of mentoring
It was said that mentoring and networking could lead to career opportunities and help you gain confidence as a professional.
All members of the panel claimed to have benefited from being a mentor or having a mentor during their careers. They spoke about the importance of having someone around who could offer impartial advice and constructive criticism, believing in your own abilities and promoting respect for yourself and others. It was noted that it would take the commitment of both women and men to promote these values in the IP community.
For more information about IP Inclusive’s Women in IP initiative, you can visit the website. You can also follow the Twitter account and activities at #WomeninIP. To join Managing IP and others and become a signatory of the IP Inclusive charter, click here.
You can also find out more about and join Managing IP's Women in IP Network.