Leading scientists

A mixed programme aside, ICES Science Committee’s (SCICOM) midterm meeting this week is striking for another reason: the debut of new Chair Yvonne Walther. We catch up with her for a chat.
Published: 3 April 2014

​​How has your first midterm meeting as SCICOM Chair been so far?

I'm really happy about the meeting. We've had a great discussion with good feedback from the group. We're creating a new Science Plan and, in order to implement this, moving into a new framework for Science Steering Groups. We need to make plenty of room for discussions about how to develop this new framework. In addition, we need to keep business running as usual so the burden has increased for SCICOM and Steering Group chairs. We're all exhausted, but happy. People are engaging and I'm so proud to lead them.

You've plenty of experience when it comes to chairing ICES committees and working groups. What are the challenges associated with moving into a similar position with SCICOM?

In some sense it's the same: to keep track and to be informed, stay up to date, and to keep the puzzle together. My job is to listen – that's the same – and to collect ideas and make something of them. In this sense, SCICOM is a much larger puzzle and you need to be more strategic and more tactical.

Will your involvement in the advisory process bring any benefits?

It's great as a Chair to dabble a bit on both sides! My aim is to spread the gospel of SCICOM, to make it more visible amongst expert groups on the advice side. Cooperation with ACOM Chair Eskild Kirkegaard has been great. People are saying they're really seeing the change in terms of how we're bridging between ACOM and SCICOM with the new Chairs.

How about your long-term work with Integrated Ecosystem Assessments?

Everything I've done so far has, for me, been building up to the position I have now – and I think I have a good overview. It means I can put effort into other issues, and I have some with me already in my backpack. I feel comfortable.

Could you give us an insight into your leadership philosophy?

I see myself as a receiver of the committee's views and ideas, and then together we create and fulfil our vision. My first task is to listen to the committee. I learn from what they say, and then I lead. It's a simple leadership model. Also, I try to make SCICOM more visible in ICES. And what I'm going to really work on in the upcoming years is making them proud of being SCICOM members and Steering Group chairs – because they're doing an amazing job. They are a fantastic group of people to work with.

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of 2014?

I always love the ASC. I'm also really looking forward to putting more effort into networking now, for example with the Regional Seas conventions and ICES strategy in the Arctic. Large Marine Ecosystems is another area I want to get tighter cooperation on. But overall,  I look forward to continuing to inspire and engage the SCICOM members in fulfilling the ICES Science Programme.

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​Yvonne Walther, Chair of SCICOM

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Leading scientists

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