The Importance of Connection in Communication, with Karene Richards – Ep #46

Scientists and engineers are usually very adept in quantitative endeavors such as math and statistics. Despite having the skills to tackle high-level technical problems, many scientists don’t have as much training in other important areas such as communication. What can people do to recognize and improve these important skills in their own professional life?

Karene Richards is a women’s advocate and capital markets quantitative expert with over 15 years of success in the investment banking industry. She has the distinction of building the first Carbon Finance model for the World Bank. Karene also created a mortgage-backed security model that generated over $250 million in income.

Scientists are a fountain of innovation. They are on the leading edge of so many technologies and medical discoveries. It can be surprising to learn that connection and communication is one of the biggest difficulties for them. Karene Richards has both quantitative expertise and top-notch communication skills and hopes to help others in the science and technology fields learn the same.

Karene earned her undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Howard University. After getting her Bachelor’s, Karene went on to get a master’s of Financial Mathematics and Statistics at Columbia University. 

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of When Science Speaks

  • [1:01] Introduction to Karene Richards
  • [3:49] The formative years of Karene
  • [7:45] How her quantitative expertise informs her work as a CEO
  • [10:25] How Karene’s skills in the management side inform her communication with other engineers
  • [12:15] Seeking to understand someone before trying to be understood, and the importance of connection in communication
  • [16:10] Innovation follows naturally after inclusion
  • [17:20] How Karene thinks communication in science can be improved
  • [22:42] What scientists can do to improve their perspective and communication with those outside the sciences
  • [27:20] Communication advice for listeners

Connect with Karene Richards 

Quantitative skills and effective communication

The daily routines, expectations, and skills needed in the life of a scientist can be very different from that of a CEO or other management position. Many people will only ever operate in only one of those areas. Things like quantitative analysis and high-level math lead to very different needs with regards to the connection between people. So what perspectives can we learn from someone who has lived in both worlds?

Karene has that experience. As she mentions in the episode, the analytical skills from her quantitative past can help her see the “bare bones” of the issues as a CEO. It also helps her to know what questions to ask and get to the real problem. Alternatively, when communicating, she has learned as a CEO to take into consideration how the person being communicated to will feel after the conversation because people tend to remember how they felt about a conversation more than the minute details of what was said.

The Importance of Connection

Communication between people, whether it by colleagues in science or business, is the key for successful completion of any project. Science can sometimes seem like it is in a bubble, and the personalities which are used to being buried in the work found in labs and theories are not typically trained to interact with non-experts about their research. What can we do to improve the communication and connection between scientists and investors or the public?

As Karene says in this week’s show, connection is easier when one tries to understand someone before trying to be understood. What that really says is that it is easier to convey a message or idea to someone else if you can try to understand them as a person first. Look at it from their point of view and try to boil your message down to one sentence. 

Learn more about Karene Richards and her successful career in science and business by listening in on this week’s episode of When Science Speaks.

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