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Tariq Enjoys Science & Technology Future Leaders Programme

17 May 2024

Tariq Boussouara Completes “Eye-opening” Foundation for Science and Technology Future Leaders Programme

Developing and nurturing the next generation of leaders is crucial for the UK’s continued progress in science and technology (S&T). The Foundation for Science and Technology's Future Leaders Programme offers a unique opportunity for this next generation to build connections and develop knowledge of science policy and innovation in the UK, and how they feed into the policy process.

The programme brings together a cohort of around 30 mid-career professionals from the research community, industry, the civil service and wider public sector. In 2023, Tariq Boussouara, Head of Data Acquisition and Engineering Support at TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory, was selected to take part in the programme. Tariq explains why he applied:

“I work at the TÜV SÜD National Engineering Laboratory, and we are one of the lead organisations in the UK’s National measurement System (NMS). The NMS is funded through the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), and I was keen to learn more about what drives policy decisions not only in DSIT but in the wider science and technology landscape. I also wanted to gain more exposure to other areas of science & technology outside my sector.“

Tariq found the whole programme fascinating. Throughout the year he had the opportunity to listen to and meet senior figures from government, parliament, universities, and industry. These included the CEO of UKRI, CEO of the UK Space Agency, Chief Scientific Advisors to both the Scottish Government and UK government, representatives from DSIT, and members of both the House of Commons and House of Lords. He also heard from representatives of various universities and research institutes. Everyone very generously shared their time, and each had a unique perspective to offer.

Future Leaders Programme Tariq-Boussoura Visit To CERN

Visit to CERN with Tariq Boussoura back row far left

Learning about different parts of the research landscape in the UK was a key aim. By engaging directly with representatives of each organisation and posing questions, Tariq gained a greater understanding of the role each organisation plays and how they collectively shape the broader science & technology (S&T) landscape.

“Being given the opportunity to hold discussions with various senior leaders has been extremely beneficial. Given their understandably busy schedules, the programme offers a rare opportunity to engage with them face to face. I particularly enjoyed listening to various Chief Scientific Advisers to the government. They are tasked with offering impartial scientific and engineering guidance to ministers and policymakers, and often must explain difficult concepts to individuals that may not have a science or engineering background. Understanding their approach has shaped my perspective on offering advice in the future.

One of the main lessons I took from the programme was that science policy is never perfect, and there is often more than one right answer!”

The Future Leader’s cohort also held regular online drop-in sessions where each member shared insights into their professional background and various aspects of their work. Tariq came to realise that there's no such thing as a typical career path, and that being open to new opportunities and challenges is important.

Tariq also welcomed the chance to present on TÜV SÜD’s work, and its place in the National Measurement System (NMS). While the NMS plays a crucial role in maintaining the UK’s Measurement Infrastructure, its significance is not always recognised, so it was an important chance to raise awareness about the laboratory and the important work it carries out.

As part of the programme, he attended meetings at the Department of Transport, the UK Parliament, Newcastle University, and the National Physical Laboratory. He also attended a conference in London, organised by members of the Future Leaders cohort. The conference covered important topics including AI, the future of work and energy security.

The highlight of the programme was a visit to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland.

“I was lucky enough to go underground and see the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider up close, an extremely impressive piece of engineering. It was also interesting to hear about the role of the UK in CERN, the proposed Future Circular Collider, and the unique challenges of maintaining the supply chain for an organisation run by multiple member states.”  

Tariq sees the Future Leaders Programme as a way to bring together a diverse group of people from different sectors to shape the future of S&T in the UK. Having found the programme an “eye-opening experience”, Tariq encourages others to take part in this opportunity for learning, collaboration, and innovation.

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