SmartSTEMs founder and alumnus on the importance of role models

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UWS alumnus and entrepreneur Stuart Macdonald tells us why he set up the charity SmartSTEMs and how, with your help, we can challenge a poverty of aspiration.

Poverty is a big word. Funny we still can have so much of ‘not enough’ in this world.

But what of poverty? Abject poverty, poverty of imagination, of aspiration, of will?

At SmartSTEMs our organization and its actions are designed to address poverty of aspiration, poverty of imagination and most directly poverty of connection.

Common sense tells us that young people connected to kind supportive and inspiring people, will broaden their aspirations, raise their goals and in good time choose to find their own way to make the world a better place for themselves and for others.

This we believe is important work. In some communities there remains a poverty of role models and connections to opportunity. There are those trailblazers who will be the first but for the majority, the feminist mantra that ‘you have to see it to be it’ holds sway as a perennial truth.

This belief really was the kernel of our #MyJob #MyJourney campaign. Fundamentally, if you are unaware a particular job exists, how can you reasonably aspire to it? Furthermore, once you are aware it exists and you fancy it for yourself, without a guide, or frame of reference, navigating any path to that role, never mind an efficient one is difficult.

Our program is designed to address both those fundamental issues. Coincidentally, we find ourselves with a skills shortage. often referred to as a lack of a talent pipeline.

So it seems these facts present themselves as the obverse and reverse of the poverty coin: skills and connectivity. It is a utilisation problem and in a societal sense that makes it everyone’s business.

At SmartSTEMs we play our own part firmly at the top of the talent funnel; inspiring young people into STEM and giving them some sense of the pathways into these wonderful careers. Here is how we do it.

Stuart and the SmartSTEMs team at an event in Paisley with local school children

Each year we connect thousands of children to inspiring individuals working in #STEM. We use pre filmed content of these inspiring souls combined with live Q&A to increase the impact of their micro volunteering donations. That means over time we deliver many more sessions without requiring as much from our volunteers. It is more fun, and more fresh for our volunteers and pre-filmed content means all the salient learning points are firmly guaranteed as ‘baked-in’ every time.

So can you help?

We need more individuals and Companies to support our endeavours as we scale. We need a video or two and a willingness to speak kindly and passionately about what you do in your job (#MyJob) and how you got there (#MyJourney).

You can register here.

Or please get in touch on

With your help we can positively present the world of work. In so doing we ‘walk the talk’ of becoming a more munificent culture and that we believe is where the real change happens!

Over time our goal for connectedness is to exchange poverty for abundance – and from there who knows!

Article by Stuart Macdonald

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