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Irina Schreiber: School of Scientific Leadership

On the main competencies of today’s scientists
07.29.2020
Irina Schreiber: School of Scientific Leadership

The School of Scientific Leadership has been functioning at the Centre for the Development of Competencies of the West Siberian Interregional Scientific and Educational Centre for more than half a year. It has an amazing woman as its mentor. Irina Schreiber is a nuclear physicist combining fragility, tenderness, charm, positive energy, intelligence, and professionalism. The Global Women Media interviewed her about the most relevant competencies for modern scientists and today’s challenges of the Russian scientific community.

Ирина-ШрайберT2.jpg Irina Schreiber
PhD in Physics and Mathematics, researcher at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN, Geneva)

Scientific and educational centres were established in different regions of Russia as part of the Science national project. Centres for the development of competencies started to operate on their basis. They focus on scientific research that will be useful for specific regions of Russia. Such organisations are aimed at professional development of managers of scientific and technical projects and development of HR potential in the field of innovation. 

Last year, one such centre appeared in West Siberia. Two schools were opened on its basis: the School of Science and Technology Project Managers and the School of Scientific Leaders. Irina Schreiber became the mentor of the second one.

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The concept of the school was based on the ideas of the targeted upbringing of leaders, development of initiatives and leadership skills, reorganisation of scientific processes, and innovative project management. 

The school participants are qualified scientists and PhDs having enough experience and potential to later manage major research projects. 

– What principles form the basis of the School of Scientific Leadership? 

– We live in a very dynamic, uncertain, and rapidly changing world. It is vital that modern science not only focuses on research and theoretical work but also meets the needs of society, the state, and humanity as a whole providing it with specific useful innovations. That is why we need competent scientific leaders who will manage to form teams and direct their activities in the right way.

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Unfortunately, Russia’s academic environment does not yet pay much attention to the training of scientific specialists at the international level. As a person who has been living and working in Europe for 20 years, I can see the difference in approaches to scientific work. Although Russian scientists work in major international organisations, such as the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), Russia itself is its immediate member. There are many such examples and we need to fix the situation. 

That is why one of the main aspects that we pay attention to in our school concerns the implementation of international level projects in Russia.

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– What competencies should modern scientific leaders have? 

– We recognise the importance of developing hard skills that are basic professional skills. At our school, we talk a lot about project management, financing, budget grants, writing scientific articles, and other technical things directly related to scientific activities and their organisation. At the same time, it is important to understand that any specialist and scientist should also develop soft skills constantly. These soft skills include the ability to establish communication and well-developed emotional intelligence. These aspects are useful in any field of activity. However, science often does not pay due attention to it for some reason.

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The image of a very intelligent loner who does not know how and does not like to communicate with others is the most common image associated with a scientist. I want society and scientists themselves to begin to treat this profession differently. 

I have also noticed another topical problem that must be addressed. Scientific and educational centres are organisations located in the regions. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, a significant part of scientists speak English at a fairly acceptable level. However, the situation is completely different in the regions of Russia. However, that is one of the main technical competencies for specialists planning to reach the international level. English is vital for leaders because it helps them erase borders. If a person can’t communicate with representatives of other countries, some obstacles appear and prevent him or her from further development.

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– Recently, there was a meeting dedicated to the ‘Equator’, the middle of the programme. What prospects does the project have? 

– The first module of the programme of our school was launched on October 14. It was planned that the programme of all modules would be completed in a year. We are waiting for the defense of all those projects carried out within the School of Scientific Leadership already this autumn. 

We launched our programme on the basis of Tyumen State University. That is why the main part of the participants included researchers working at various West Siberian universities. Such a beta launch has already shown good results. We see that there is a demand for such initiatives. I hope that we will conduct a new student recruitment campaign this year and invite a wider range of students to participate in it. Our school will be interesting for those scientists who have already achieved some success in their profession and want to improve their competencies in project management. Of course, all those wishing to join our school will have to pass the preliminary selection.

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– You are a bright, energetic, and talented woman. And you are also a nuclear physicist. We cannot but ask you about women’s leadership in science. Are there many examples of successful women scientists today? 

– There’s always room for women in scientific leadership! Fabiola Gianotti, Director General of CERN, is one of the brightest and closest examples to me. She is not only a woman leader but also the first director of this organisation who was elected for a second term without any comments and additional conditions. 

In my speeches at conferences and forums, I often say that it is impossible to determine who is better at science: men or women. They have different logic and a different approach to professional activity. That is why their interaction in science makes it possible to achieve great success. 

Viktoria Yezhova, Global Women Media news agency

Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov


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