[07 March 2024]

Inspiring Inclusion: Celebrating the success of a diverse workforce

A team like no other!

In the ever-evolving landscape of innovation and technology, Aura stands as a true example of a workplace that not only fosters creativity and groundbreaking innovation but also prioritises inclusivity and gender equality.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, this year’s theme Inspiring Inclusion couldn’t be more relevant for the University of Hull’s Aura team, where everyone, regardless of gender, brings something unique to the table. From leadership roles to technical expertise, the female workforce, making up an impressive 56% of the team, have become integral contributors to the mechanics of the Aura Innovation Centre, bringing diverse perspectives and skill sets to the forefront.

The diverse team at Aura is testament to the University of Hull’s dedication to breaking gender barriers and promoting equality and what sets Aura apart is the emphasis on collaboration between female and male colleague. The success of its female workforce working alongside their male colleagues illustrates the positive impact that diversity and collaboration can have on innovation, productivity, and the overall success of a team in the innovation game which requires agility, creativity, team-spirit and resilience in order to serve our business, community and academic stakeholders.

Aura has been a key player in many of the University of Hull’s initiatives to promote gender equality including the Turning the Tide Project, led by Aura Director, Louise Smith in collaboration with the Tenfoot Dance Company, which brought science and the arts together to explore the role of women in the renewable energy industry. The project built on findings in a report on Equility, Diversion and Inclusion (EDI) in Engineering , led by Aura’s Research, Development and Innovation Lead, Professor James Gilbert and funded by Supergen ORE Hub. The team has also been very active in delivering the Humber Women in the Workforce (HWiW) project in partnership with East Riding of Yorkshire and Hull City Councils, helping women to realise their full potential. The HWiW project enabled the University of Hull to run the Women in Leadership Accelerator course, allowing women looking at moving into management positions to develop their leadership style, and provided knowledge of management skills and techniques.

Here we take a moment to meet the inspirational women at Aura and celebrate the diversity in the individual expertise and accomplishments ⇓

Tilly Costigan

Tilly is Aura’s highly organised Operations Coordinator, supporting research administration and daily operational activities at the Aura Innovation Centre (AIC). Tilly, who loves gardening and baking in her spare time, enjoys building relationships and liaising with the excellent AuraFleX members and visitors. Tilly is enormously proud of the fact that the AIC team is a well-oiled machine and is delighted by the excellent feedback received from visitors and the AuraFlex members as it highlights the friendliness and competence of the team. “I feel very lucky to be part of such a fantastic group of people.”

Rebecca Bellwood

Rebecca is Aura’s welcoming and much-loved Reception and Facility Coordinator, who goes above and beyond to make guests to the AIC feel welcome. Her warm and friendly persona does not go unnoticed by both AuraFlex members and visitors alike, as this is regularly highlighted in the positive feedback that is received. Beyond Aura’s reception, Rebecca loves being in the great outdoors, often accompanied by her beloved dog. She is proud of her involvement in the development and launch of the AuraFleX collaborative workspace. Rebecca has been a key player in the set up and delivery of AuraFlex, ensuring that the customer journey is seamless from initial enquiry through to contract signing. Her daily interactions with members reflect her ongoing commitment to building a positive environment.

Kerry Gardner

Kerry is the ever efficient InventX Coordinator at the AIC. She has been instrumental in developing processes and procedures to ensure the InventX space is compliant and safe for both visitors and staff. These processes and procedures have contributed to making InventX a professional and highly regarded research and development space amongst industry. Kerry is a self-regarded “get the job done” kind of women with a hidden talent for Flamenco dancing! She sees to any issues/faults/queries and concerns efficiently, in addition to operational projects for InventX and overseeing facility management and H&S issues for the AIC. Kerry is proud to have been welcomed into the team at Aura and takes joy in working within a team that encourages flexibility, opportunity, and strength to grow across all aspects of her life.

Louise Smith

Louise is the Director of Aura, leading a diverse and inclusive team of amazing people working at the forefront of innovation, leading collaboration and pioneering ideas. Louise said “at the University of Hull’s Aura Innovation Centre, the team are contributing to economic growth in the Humber, supporting particularly SMEs who are the backbone of the economy, to innovate, create new products and services as well as jobs.” The Aura team also work with industry in the net zero space, offshore wind and other green energy project. Louise is delighted by the opportunities Aura has had to contribute to innovation for the Humber – whether that is working on big Research & Development funded projects alongside our academic colleagues or with big and small companies who are working on innovative green solutions to help meet the regions net zero targets. Louise is extremely proud of the Aura team who successfully established an Innovation Centre from the ground up, emphasizing the collaborative efforts of the team, academics, and partner businesses. This includes the creation of Aura ConneX, the premier meeting space in the Humber; AuraFlex, a welcoming collaborative workspace; and Aura InventX, a dynamic and solution-oriented tech space, all functioning as envisioned seven years ago on paper. Personally, Louise is very proud of the part she played in the Turning the Tide arts project (film and exhibition) that Aura supported and part funded. Louise features within the film as one of the ‘angels of the North’ – expressing the power, beauty and strength of the offshore wind industry, through the medium of dance.

Amber Jones

Amber is the Fluids Lab Technician within InventX. Having just recently submitted her PhD in Biological Science, Amber will be putting her research to the test on the AIC’s newly installed stratified flow flume and leading on the day to day research and commercial activities of fluid dynamics in collaboration with the University’s Energy and Environment Institute. Amber loves the unique job experiences her roles calls for combining multiple disciplines from engineering to physics to chemistry. Amber is excited to be involved in the research being undertaken using such a novel flume with it being the first stratified flow flume designed.

Sarah Clark

Sarah is Head of Operations at Aura and UKRPIF Programme Lead. She is responsible for all operational aspects of the Aura Innovation Centre, including team resource, which means she is basically responsible for bringing this brilliant team together.  Part of Sarah’s diverse role is to drive commercial, external funding, and research income to support SME net-zero ambitions and leveraging the University’s research capability for creating new technologies. But it doesn’t stop there she is also responsible for multi-million-pound, multi-stakeholder programme delivery of a £200M+ industry and Research England partnership. Whilst others may shy away from such responsibility Sarah relishes the challenge and enjoys the variety of activity that she and the Aura team are involved in, delivering positive impact both to the benefit of the University as well as to the area. As if the role wasn’t demanding enough Sarah managed to achieve two level 7 qualifications in 2022 – a Masters and Senior Leader apprenticeship. Away from the fraught world of project delivery Sarah is a very proud mum to a 14-year-old aspiring footballer. She spends most of her spare time driving to various sporting venues to support his aspirations and she wouldn’t have it any other way!

Joanne Clemenson

Jo is the AIC’s extremely energetic Event Co-ordinator, seamlessly managing the day to day running of the multiple event spaces that are available at the AIC. Jo’s diverse skillset enables her to successfully plan, organize, and execute events of varying scales. She goes above and beyond in organizing bespoke events for clients to make use of the fantastic versatile spaces available and a memorable experience for their guests. Jo loves the great outdoors and can regularly be found enjoying the beautiful East Yorkshire countryside or climbing a mountain in the lake district. Jo is proud to be a parkrun tourist having not only completed local runs but as far afield as Portsmouth Lakeside, Southsea and Fountains Abbey.

Mary Debenham

Mary is Aura’s Finance and Audit Officer and with her impeccable attention to detail supports the team with all things financial, governance compliance and account management. Mary’s efficient handling of finance and audit administration enables to her seamlessly progress the client journey in a timely manner – keeping the customer happy as well as the finance officer. Mary is most proud of playing an instrumental role in the achievements of the Flood Innovation Centre project. Her input ensured that the project successfully completed 3 high level audits to a very high standard. Mary likes to take time out for herself away from the demanding role to enjoy walks and spending quality time with the family.

Sal Butterick

Sal is the Facility Supervisor within InventX, the Aura Innovation Centre’s research and development space. Sal’s practical and hands on approach means she is able to seamlessly coordinate the day to day operations within InventX including general maintenance of it’s state-of-the-art equipment, particularly the 3D printing and analytical facilities. Sal likes the fact that every day is different within InventX, providing her with skills development opportunities as every project comes with its own unique skillset. Sal is particularly proud of the work she undertook on a recent project with The Deep, helping to create 3D printed models of marine microorganisms for an exhibition currently on display to the public. Read about Sal’s amazing creations here. Sal enjoys applying her skills to fun projects at home, including making her own Christmas lights and more recently learning how to weld to make her own fire pit!

Roselyn Shallcross

Roselyn is the Marketing Coordinator for the Aura Innovation Centre, effortlessly supporting and facilitating the various marketing activities playing a pivotal role in shaping the Aura brand into what it is today, a respected and influential leader in offshore wind and low carbon energy. Roselyn loves the creative freedom the role requires and enjoys finding new creative and innovative solutions to promoting Aura’s various service offerings ensuring that the content is always fresh and engaging. Roselyn never has a dull day and the diversity of tasks keeps the job interesting from strategic planning to content creation, analytics, and project management. Roselyn is particularly proud of recently completing the HWiW Leadership Programme, delivered by the University of Hull. This is the first time she has dipped her toe into academia and she was grateful for the opportunity to be able to develop her skills and finally tackle those feeling of imposter syndrome. Roselyn is grateful to the Aura leadership team for giving her the opportunity to continue to build such an inspiring and influential brand such as Aura.