In conversation with Dr Megan Rossi this International Women's Day

08 Mar 2021
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The National Literacy Trust’s Words for Work: Women in Leadership Programme is run in partnership with Lancôme and to celebrate International Women’s Day, we caught up with Dr Megan Rossi (PhD, RD), known as The Gut Health Doctor, who is currently working with Lancôme to raise awareness of microbiome science and its role in general health, wellbeing and supporting the skin.

Dr Rossi is a leading Research Fellow at King’s College London, registered dietitian, nutritionist and author, and leads a team of gut-specialist dietitians at The Gut Health Clinic in London.

She told us all about what International Women’s Day means to her, why she chose to pursue a career in science and her top advice and experiences of getting into the world of work.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

For me, International Women’s Day means empowering women and celebrating achievements in all aspects of life, and that’s something I’m incredibly passionate about. In my world of research, fewer than 30% of researchers are women, so it’s about time we broke down the barriers for women in science.

Why do you think the Words for Work: Women in Leadership programme is important for young women?

I often get messages from young women saying they want to pursue a career in science but are worried it’s a male-dominated space. These messages remind me of just how important programmes such as Words of Work are to support equal opportunities for young women, in science and every other industry.

What drew you to your role and a career in science?

My mum was a science teacher, so I was always doing little home experiments while I was growing up. With an Italian family and living on a farm, food and science were big in my life, so dietetics brought together my two favourite things!

I qualified as a dietitian over a decade ago. Back then, gut health research was so limited, so I signed away my early twenties to a PhD in gut health and kidney disease - and we discovered an amazing link.

But unfortunately it can often take many years for scientific research to translate into practice, and I wanted to close this gap, so I took to social media as The Gut Health Doctor to share the latest research, as well as setting up The Gut Health Clinic to make science-based advice more accessible.

What excited you about working with Lancôme?

The relationship between our gut health and skin health is fascinating, and my work with Lancôme will be helping to get real science out there. The brand is doing a lot of research behind the scenes and really investing in science, by doing clinical trials and independently assessing the benefits of Lancôme products. It’s an exciting time for scientific research around the gut-skin connection and my aim is to translate that in an easy-to-digest way for the public, to empower people with the knowledge to look after their own health from the inside out.

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What was your first interview like?

It was over a decade ago now but I still remember it very clearly. I had a heart full of passion and a gut full of nerves (there’s the gut-brain communication in action!). It was daunting and I wish I’d known more about the role of breath work in calming the gut:brain axis, but I’d practised some common interview questions with my mum, printed off my CV and reminded myself that the interviewers were only human. My responses were far from perfect. My first instinct was to be really critical of myself, but after replaying the interview back with my mum, and reflecting on what went well as opposed to just the bad, I felt overall positive about the experience. As it turned out I didn’t get the job advertised, but they offered me another one!

What are your top interview tips?

Preparation is key, so my top tip would be to read up about the company, think about why you want to join the team and what you could bring to the role, and do some practice questions with a friend or family member. Beyond technical skills, the biggest thing companies are looking for is a great positive attitude and enthusiasm to learn, so show your willingness and dedication.

What are some of the most important transferable skills, do you think? (please do mention literacy skills and communication skills if you can as this ties in nicely to the programme)

One of the most important transferable skills is good communication and people skills, both in writing and verbally, to build relationships and work well in a team. Critical thinking is also an important skill, to be able to make good judgements and logical decisions for different tasks. Literacy skills are also key, including not only strong reading and writing, but listening and understanding effectively. Even if it’s not a natural strength, practicing makes all the difference!

What advice would you give your younger self entering the world of work?

I would encourage my younger self to believe in your abilities, stay true to your values and don’t be afraid to pursue your ambition. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you’re passionate and put in the hard work together with a strong team, you can achieve anything. And, of course, always listen to your gut!

About Dr Megan Rossi (PhD, RD)

Dr Megan Rossi, registered dietitian, nutritionist and author of bestselling book, Eat Yourself Healthy, the ultimate guide to good gut health from the inside out.

Megan is a leading Research Fellow at King’s College London with a PhD in gut health, and is considered one of the most influential gut health specialists internationally. She’s passionate about inspiring and empowering everyone to enjoy good gut health, having founded The Gut Health Doctor to make evidence-based advice more accessible and setting up The Gut Health Clinic in London, where she leads a team of gut-specialist dietitians.

Connect with Megan at www.theguthealthdoctor.com @TheGutHealthDoctor