“For mentors, [IMNIS] provides a platform, to ‘pay it forward’ and ‘learn while we teach’.”
Hema Wadhwa is an industry mentor in the Western Australian IMNIS program. Hema is an Engineering specialist and business developer at INTECSEA, with more than 7 years of experience in offshore floating systems and subsea engineering and research.
Hema’s experience is focused on the hydrodynamics of subsea and floating structures and subsea pipeline dynamic response. One key highlight is Hema’s research on dropped object modelling which included time at the Neutral Buoyancy lab at NASA.
Hema has authored and co-authored several technical papers with many presentations made at local and international technical conferences. She is an elected member of Society of Underwater Technology branch committee. Hema was also recognized as one of the Top 25 migrants by the ‘Skilled migrant Professionals’ summer magazine issue in 2017.
Why are you participating in the IMNIS program?
The IMNIS program provides PhD students an invaluable opportunity and platform to connect with industry through mentors. Mentors support mentees to learn about the industry, develop interest and get involved in the networking societies relevant to their area of work, and identify abilities that should be developed or improved upon. For mentors, it provides a platform, to ‘pay forward’ and ‘learn while we teach’.
What is the most crucial aspect of this professional relationship for you?
Mutual understanding of the goals is imperative for a professional relationship. The expectations from both sides are calibrated at the start of the relationship and maintained. Through this program, the mentee gets access to independent and impartial suggestions and advice as required.
When you meet with your mentee, do you work together on a set of goals or do you go where the conversation takes you?
The first meeting was to calibrate the expectations and understand the roles. The mentee drives the schedule and brings up the already decided discussion topics one by one. We both work together on the set of goals for each topic in terms of difficulties, challenges, opportunities and outline mentee’s current approach and next steps. Once the prelisted topics and the way forward are discussed, the conversation is allowed to follow its own path, leading to discovery of other valuable topics that deserve attention.
What are the key skills PhD students need to successfully collaborate with and/or work in industry?
Communication and networking skills are important along with the problem solving skills that are gained during candidature. An understanding of the industry and ability to relate their research with direct practical applications allows for collaboration with industry. 3MT (Three minute thesis) competition is one great platform to test it. I also recommend internship(s).
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you so far?
The most rewarding aspect is the opportunity to ‘pay forward’ by sharing my knowledge and experience in industry and add value to someone’s professional life.