LONDON – The event “g4g@work with Azur”, co-organised by Greenlight for girls (g4g) and Azur, took place here at Cocoon Networks London on 30 June 2017. On this occasion, about 30 young girls participated in three exciting workshops proving the undeniable connection between STEM subjects - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – and “everything around us”.
G4g is a global organisation active in six continents committed to encouraging young girls of all backgrounds, typically aged 11 to 15, to take a greater interest in STEM subjects and to pursue STEM-related careers. The organisation adopts a location-specific approach whereby initiatives are progressively expanded to meet local needs. This is done, for instance, by providing science books, by awarding scholarships, or by holding a 'g4g Day' into a stimulating workplace or museum. Since 2010 the organisation has reached over 15,000 girls with the support of over 3,500 volunteers.
Melissa Rancourt, Founder and Chairman of g4g:
“Our organisation began with one e-mail sent to less than 100 people across the world, and with one question – do you believe there is something we need to do to encourage girls in science? Within 12 months, we had an official organisation, over 500 volunteers, and four board of directors operating in four continents of the world.”
Jelena Lucin, HQ Project Manager and Science Advisor at g4g:
“‘Anything is possible!’ is a message we love […] because we truly believe that continued learning – and especially in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – can open up doors to enormous possibilities.”
A Managing General Agent (MGA) vested with underwriting authority from global insurer AIG Private Client Group, Azur focuses on High Net Worth insurance for clients of UK brokers. The startup, based here at Cocoon Networks, highly values continuous product development and the rapid deployment of new functions. The company’s success is driven by a passion for state-of-the-art design and by the willingness to provide both the brokers and their clients with a pleasant experience.
Graham Elliot on the collaboration with g4g and on social change:
“It is important in today’s world that we recognise that the talent and the youth has got to be encouraged and nurtured, and everybody needs to play a part in that. […] This is a subject that is very close to my heart, I’ve got daughters myself. […] I want Azur to give people a window into that and to find the next talents. We love doing it - the whole team is really into it and it’s part of our social programmes since we started as a company, from the very beginning. This is our first g4g event; we have done some work […] for homeless and less-able people too. […] G4g is has a very neat charity as one of the biggest problems in the tech world is lack of diversity and this organisation is encouraging it. And with diversity comes a stronger company.”
Azur’s co-working office is based at Cocoon Networks London, a UK branch of the Cocoon Networks Group. Cocoon Networks is Europe’s first Chinese-backed investment platform and financial investment consultancy specialised in venture capital investment and cross-border technology transfer. Cocoon Networks is fully committed to innovation and constructive social change in communities around the globe. In hosting this exciting event, Cocoon Networks aims to contribute in empowering young girls from diverse backgrounds to step up as STEM leaders, thus increasing diversity in the sector.
The event kicked off with a brief opening speech by Lara Korz, Chief Data Officer at Azur, who welcomed the participants. Shortly after playing a brief video about g4g, Jelena Lucin, HQ Project Manager and Science Advisor at g4g, welcomed the girls and outlined g4g’s key values and mission. Ms Korz then provided a concise introduction to Azur, before inviting four of the company’s team members to share their story and work experiences with the audience. Graham Elliot, Chief Executive Officer at Azur, explained the reason why Azur was founded, emphasising what makes this company special:
“We set up this company and we are so passionate about it because in the old days you had technology companies and 'other' companies doing things: they didn’t really understand each other. Now things are changing really fast […] and we are going to end up in a world where there is no difference between an insurance company and a technology company.”
Mr Elliot went on to encourage the participants “to embrace and understand” what was covered throughout the day, assuring them that “if you understand what you hear today about technology, you’ll do really well, you’ll have good careers, and you’ll always be valuable”.
G4g organised three different workshops for the day.
In the ‘Human DNA Experiment’, led my g4g, the participants learned about the fundamental building blocks of all forms of life as they isolated their own DNA and placed it into a wearable pendant. Most of the materials used to extract DNA were household supplies such as ice, soap, rubbing alcohol and sports drinks. The concepts covered in this workshop included the cell and the cell membrane, cell lysis and precipitation.
The ‘g4g Codebreakers!’ workshop, guided by Azur, allowed the girls to discover the fundamentals of programming in a visual and enjoyable way. The workshop started with a visual exercise that required the group members to move their exercise instructor from one part of the room to the other, using specific commands. The participants then started programming using code.org. They learned how the commands programmers make use of make their programmes work the way they wish. This session covered the concepts of coding language, engineering problem-solving and efficient flow.
In the ‘M&M Logic – Take a Chance on Chocolate’ session, the partakers learnt about risk assessment and probabilities using M&Ms. This workshop connected the concept of risk assessment to daily tasks and, more specifically, to the insurance sector of Azur, thus encouraging a fruitful exchange of ideas on real-life scenarios. The concepts discussed were probability, risk assessment, statistics and mathematics.
Once the workshops were over, each girl took the People Like me Quiz, “a way for girls to identify their preferred way of working based upon their personality and aptitudes”. This is also referred to as their ‘self-identity’. After that, Azur and g4g team members asked the participants to help them summarise the topics touched on throughout the day, before some of the volunteers and some of the girls shared the results they got on the People Like me Quiz.
Shortly before the end of the event Jeanie and Giuseppe from Azur shared their passion for STEM and their story, providing concrete examples of how much can be achieved by combining knowledge in in STEM subjects and creativity.
The day was concluded with a group picture. All partakers, team members and volunteers were encouraged to shout out g4g’s motto: 'Anything is possible!'