The Mentee Perspective: Pece Kocovski

I would like to share with you some of my experience with the IMNIS program. I recently entered the Kelly Services Future Scientist Award for 2018. It involved submitting an application along with a phone screening interview. I was then accepted as one of 8 student finalists. The students chosen came from a range of scientific backgrounds and degrees and had to present themselves to a panel of industry professionals. In order to become one of the finalists I had to be able to showcase my academic and scientific experience and achievements, as well as demonstrate my overall involvement in scientific communities. Through careful planning, and excellent guidance from my IMNIS mentor, I was able to confidentially convey my alignment with the criteria to the industry panel. So much so that I was announced the winner of the Future Scientist Award for 2018!

One of the questions they asked me during my presentation was: “Why should I be the 2018 winner?” So I thought, why do I stand out when there may be others as capable as me? In the past, I would not have felt like a winner, and would have struggled to answer such a question with confidence. I probably would have even joked that I wish everyone could be a winner! I probably would not have even applied for the competition. But over the past 6 months, I have learned that many of my achievements, my publications, my work experience, and my extracurricular activities, are important and do deserve recognition. With that mindset I discovered that anything was possible, including winning a competition.

My mentor played a crucial role in my success. It is thanks to him that I’ve learned to be self-confident, recognize the differences in other people, appreciate the strengths and weaknesses that I have, and how I can passionately communicate my strengths to others. He made me realize that even though I may not have that “type” of personality, my “type” is still just as valuable and recognizable to a professional organization. I was glad I could demonstrate that to the panel of judges to my success.”

The Mentor Perspective: Paul Wood

Pece was an easy student to mentor as he was keen to learn and open to my suggestions. In our first meeting I suggested things like: getting a business card, developing an elevator speech, refining his LinkedIn profile and doing some personality testing. At our second meeting he had completed all of these tasks and he was clearly more confident about taking on new challenges. The issue of personality styles is an important one to understand as everyone has a particular style even if you do not understand what yours may be. There is also no right or wrong style, however when communicating with individuals it’s important to understand how differences in personality styles can impact the effectiveness of your interactions.

I am proud of Pece and what he has achieved in a short space of time and we are now working on enhancing his network and understanding of the opportunities that industry can offer.

About the Authors:

Professor Paul Wood AO FTSE is a senior industry executive with over 30 years experience. He obtained his PhD from the Australian National University. At CSIRO, he was Leader of the TB Diagnostic and Vaccine Development program, where he developed the platform TB diagnostic technology now successfully commercialised by CSL and the Australian company, Cellestis. Paul received a number of awards for this research including the CSIRO medal, ASM Diagnostic award and in 2013, The Clunies Ross award. Paul was Deputy-Director of the CRC for Vaccine Technology from 1993-2000 and has published over 100 scientific papers. In 1997, he became Vice President, Global Research and Development in Animal Health at CSL, and in 2004 joined Pfizer AH as Senior Director, A/NZ Biologicals R&D. He became Executive Director, Global Discovery, Pfizer AH, Kalamazoo, Michigan USA in 2008 where he led the Global Discovery team for pharmaceutical and biological products. Paul returned to Australia in 2012 and established his own consultancy and accepted an Adjunct Professor position at Monash University. He was Director of a start-up AH company Nexvet Biopharma and is a founding director of IMNIS. In 2015 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE).  He is on the Board of Women in STEMM Australia and the Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines as well as the Chair of AusBiotech’s Ag and Foodtech Committee. In 2016 he was elected to the Board of Dairy Australia and joined the Scientific Advisory Board for AACo. He was awarded the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2018. Paul is also a consultant to the Agriculture program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Paul is a co-founder of IMNIS and was appointed to the IMNIS Expert Advisory Panel in 2017.

Pece Kocovksi is a PhD student with extensive pre-clinical/phase 1 clinical and imaging trial experience, two papers, and a strong interest in pharmaceutical drug development to improve the lives of patients. He is the winner of the Kelly Services 2018 Future Scientist Award. Pece is passionate in sharing knowledge and mentoring to complement his extensive scientific and pharmaceutical skill set in the pre-clinical and phase 1 stage of drug development.