In the run up to our 2016 awards, we sat down with our finalists to gain an insight into their career journeys. Find out what Dr Patrice Baptiste has learnt as a woman in the STEM industry
- How did your medical journey begin?
My medical journey began when I was just four years old! I knew that I always wanted to become a doctor and everything I did was focused on achieving that dream. I studied at a comprehensive school in East London and was actually at a serious disadvantage compared to other students who were applying that year. However, with God, the right work ethic and a supportive family I was able to surmount obstacles and secure a place at University College London (UCL) medical school. I then undertook a very long medical degree- six years! I also had the opportunity to undertake an intercalated B.Sc in Speech Science and Communication.
- From graduating in 2013, how long did it take you to bring your platform DreamSmartTutors to fruition?
As a medical student I decided that I want to start DreamSmartTutors, however there was a lot going on for me during that time and so I decided to put it on hold and focus on completing my medical degree then working on my clinical skills and knowledge as a doctor. Before I embarked on my degree I was always teaching others, but, it was only during my year out of training during 2015 when I had more time to go out into schools to help students more that I realised it was the perfect time to start DreamSmartTutors. Speaking to the students and looking at the opportunities they have at certain schools reminded me of how hard it was when I was applying to medical school. It also became very clear to me that the students who wanted to apply to study medicine had not done sufficient research to really understand what doctors do on a daily basis and neither had they kept up to date with the ongoing dispute about the junior doctors’ contract. I realised that I needed to educate students so that they could make an informed decision about the challenging career they wanted to pursue.
- We know that you manage and fund your business DreamSmartTutors yourself. What would be your top 5 tips for self funding a business?
- I am all about planning and so my first tip would be to have a plan and do your research. What will you need to start your business? How much do you think it will cost? How will you raise the funds to start your business? Will you supply the funds yourself or apply for funding from elsewhere? Who can support or collaborate with you? Who are your competitors and what are you doing differently from them? What problem is it that you are trying to solve? Have you piloted your idea, if so what did you learn to improve it?
- My second tip would be, whatever way you plan to fund and manage your business make sure it is sustainable. For me, I knew that running a business would require a large amount of time and money; therefore I tried my best to address these two issues as fully as possible. With regards to time- I have found ways to improve my time management so that I can run the business largely by myself, but I know with my changing schedule as a doctor and life itself (!) time management will be tricky. Nonetheless, I have formulated a plan for the future and pre-empted; I have a team of medical students (although I will have to continue to recruit) who will be able to assist me with the delivery of the courses and when I am working will be able to deliver the courses themselves. With regards to money I set aside funds that I could afford to invest into the business initially, but the business itself does not generate major expenses based on the model I chose. I also set a price for the courses and tuition services that is both realistic and achievable (and affordable for my customers). My first course sold out and I have further course dates set for the rest of the year.
- My third tip would be to listen. This is tied in to research but it is so crucial that you listen to others who have successfully started and grown their business. You can learn from them and their mistakes so that you don’t make the same ones!
- By networking you can again generate ideas about how to self-fund your business and think about things that perhaps you did not consider. If done successfully your business will start to fund itself!
- Use the resources around you. There are so many things you can use to help you. For example online- social networking can be used to help you market your business and often for free. I have invested a small amount of money into marketing via facebook which has helped me in turn self-fund my business through sales. It has enabled me to spread the word whilst not spending ridiculous amounts of money on marketing.
- What would be your advice for those interested in the STEM field?
My advice for anyone interested in any field not only STEM careers would be:
- Research –What do you actually know about this career? You need to speak to those in your chosen career, read, gain work experience and do whatever you need to do to ensure that you are certain about your choice to undertake a degree and career in that field.
- Know who you are– what is it that you enjoy doing? What is your personality type- introvert, extrovert or a bit of both? What could you see yourself doing in the future? Where do you see yourself in five, ten years or more? What are your strengths and weaknesses and will they match your chosen career?
- Have there been any challenges for you as a woman in the STEM field, if so how have you overcome them?
Medicine is slightly different from the traditional STEM subjects, but as a woman, and as someone from a Black Minority and Ethnic (BME) background I have faced challenges such as incorrect perceptions, stereotyping and in some cases micro-aggressions. I am someone who is very focused and determined, so it is quite hard for others to influence or sway me. I know what I want to achieve and have been fortunate to know that from a very young age. Therefore with this strong mind set I have been able to accomplish my goals without letting the aforementioned obstacles stop me from succeeding.
- What has been the highlight of your business career so far?
The main highlight for me has been the amount I have accomplished in such a short space of time. I had the idea many years ago as previously mentioned but it was not until earlier this year that I decided to action it. Since then I have formulated a team and my first course is in a week, a course that was sold out online. I have also had several requests from schools (and students) asking me to deliver courses for their students. I could not have imagined it would have started so well and taken off so quickly.
- What is next for DreamSmartTutors? Where do you see yourself and your business in the next 5 years?
The next steps are:
- Continuing to ensure the business is sustainable and that as a brand DreamSmartTutors becomes established.
- In the next five years I aim to make sure the organisation has grown to a point where we have regular courses throughout the year, annually and a variety of courses too- something I am working on at the moment. I also aim to have a greater number of medical students who can dedicate more time to personalised tuition in addition to course delivery.
- I have a number of other ideas that I aim to implement by that time too!
For myself, in five years I want to become more established and experienced as a doctor. All my training should have finished by then so that will allow me more time to invest in other projects including DreamSmartTutors.
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