MENTEE – David Kulikowski

David Kulikowski, PhD student and IMNIS mentee in the MedTech-Pharma/Resources Pilot 2016 – The University of Adelaide (SA)

“I would recommend IMNIS to all PhD Candidates, not just those interested in transitioning from academia to industry. IMNIS provides an insight into the industry environment that is difficult to experience as a PhD Candidate”

David Kulikowski is a final year PhD Candidate at the Australian School of Petroleum, University of Adelaide. His research is focused on constraining the structural/tectonic history of subsurface provinces, which he expects to complete in September 2017. This research has enabled David to not only publish four of his nine first author papers, but also present at numerous conferences and contribute to five additional co-authored publications. During his PhD candidature, David worked part-time at Santos Ltd to gain industry experience and to identify how his research could provide value for oil and gas companies. In addition to this, he also completed two blocks of industry placements at Santos Ltd and Woodside Energy. David has secured a position with oil and gas company Woodside Energy, commencing in 2018. He was involved in the 2016 IMNIS MedTech-Pharma/Resources Pilot in South Australia.

Why did you participate in IMNIS?

Having spent a considerable amount of time in University, I was interested in the employment opportunities beyond academia. The South Australian IMNIS pilot provided an opportunity to expand my professional network and receive valuable career development advice from an industry leader. By participating in the pilot, I was also able to receive feedback on my PhD project from a different (industry) viewpoint.

How often did you meet with your mentor and did you prepare for these meetings? What was the best piece of advice you received?

As my mentor and I were both quite busy during this period, frequent face-to-face meetings were not practical; however, the online Mentorloop program provided an efficient platform to connect and chat. Our discussions were frequently based on how best to transition from academia to industry. Being in the oil and gas industry, which has recently experienced a significant downturn, obtaining an opportunity to gain employment in Adelaide was difficult.

The key advice I received from my mentor was to steer away from the smaller companies that were most exposed to the downturn, and focus my efforts on larger more stable companies. In doing this, I was able to secure a permanent position with Australia’s largest independent oil and gas company, which likely would not have occurred if it wasn’t for IMNIS.

Would you recommend participating in IMNIS to your peers?

I would recommend IMNIS to all PhD Candidates, not just those interested in transitioning from academia to industry. IMNIS provides an insight into the industry environment that is difficult to experience as a PhD Candidate. One aspect of this is that PhD research is often highly academic and can isolate you from understanding the relevance to industry. The IMNIS mentor can provide a different perspective on the research and identify translatable value that can increase the overall worth of the PhD project. In saying this, the program is not only for individuals keen to work in the industry sector, but also for candidates that are interested in re-directing aspects of their PhD project to make it more relevant to industry, which is often an important aspect for researchers looking for funding.

What was the most rewarding aspect of IMNIS for you?

Ultimately, the most rewarding aspect of IMNIS was knowing how to approach industry and successfully obtain industry employment with a sustainable and world-class oil and gas explorer/producer that has a portfolio of projects from around the world! And this may not have been possible without the advice and guidance of my IMNIS mentor.

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