Industry Engagement & Collaboration

In our 2018-2019 program, there were high levels of collaboration and engagement within our mentoring partnerships.

The majority of mentees (95%) said they had a better understanding of industry, the skills needed to succeed, the careers available, and that they had extended their professional network beyond academia. Importantly, 98% of mentors agreed.

Most mentees (79%) said they had attained the knowledge and skills to assist them in engaging and collaborating with industry, while 92% of our industry mentors have agreed and plan to maintain contact with their mentee.

The positive effects of these industry-academia collaborations are felt on both sides of the mentoring partnership.

Industry Internships & Employment

Additional bonus outcomes, that are not considered primary objectives of the IMNIS initiative, were that most mentees (75%) said they developed knowledge and skills needed to attain an internship or job in industry.


IMNIS Alumni who gained industry employment:


Maggie Lieu (2017-18 MedTech-Pharma Program VIC)

Maggie Lieu obtained her PhD from Monash University in the field of pharmacology, immunology and cardiovascular disease. Previously,she was a Research Valet Officer at St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne where she helped researchers, contract research organisations and pharmaceutical companies fast track ethical approval involving drugs and medical devices for clinical trials across multiple therapeutic areas. Maggie is an active player in the biotech, medtech and pharma sector and passionate about the translation of research discoveries into life-saving medicines.

Following the completion of her PhD, Maggie made the move from academia into industry and is currently a Life Sciences Solutions Consultant at Clarivate Analytics. In her role Maggie helps identify and communicate solutions to accelerate innovation for pharmaceutical, biotech and academic/medical institutes and government agencies.

What did you find was the most valuable aspect of the IMNIS program?

“The most valuable aspect of the IMNIS program was the great professional relationship that I have developed with my industry mentor. I initially participated in the program to learn more about the industry, but I came out with much more than I thought I would get out of it. My mentor taught me about the industry, opened me up to the various opportunities in the industry and helped me expand my professional network. While I am no longer an official mentee in the program, my mentor and I continue to catch up and I am fortunate to still be able receive valuable guidance and advice on my career, especially now that I have transitioned into industry from academia.”

What was the most important thing you learnt participating in the IMNIS program?

“One of the most important things I learnt by participating in the program is the importance of networking. The IMNIS program really helped highlight the crucial role of networking and I was fortunate enough for my mentor to introduce me to her colleagues, who are leaders in their fields. Networking during my PhD allowed me to connect with a wide variety of people, expand my network and helped me to understand the types of industry roles available. I have made some great contacts in the industry who themselves have become my mentors!”

How did IMNIS help you to get where you are now/to your current position?

“The IMNIS program connected me with a mentor who helped and guided me through the development of key knowledge and skills to get my foot into the door of industry. The IMNIS program has enabled me to better understand the industry, the types of opportunities available in this sector and how to transition from academia to industry.”

Has the IMNIS program shaped your career path and/or career planning?

“During the late stages of my PhD, I knew that transitioning into industry was something that I had in mind, but I wasn’t sure how I could transition. The IMNIS program was a fantastic way to gain a better understanding of the industry, learn about the variety of career opportunities in industry and how I could potentially fit into this sector. Through the IMNIS program, I had a clearer idea of the roles that I would like to pursue following the completion of my PhD and how I could go about making the transition from academia.”

What advice would you give to postgraduates in STEMM today?

“Keep yourself open to different opportunities, especially those that lie outside of your postgraduate studies. Such opportunities could be the start of something great and allow you to get your foot in the door of industry”

“Network, network, network. Especially outside of your research circle. There are so many advantages of networking from expanding your knowledge in various areas, fostering collaboration and business opportunities and even being able to get exclusive insight into available job opportunities (a major bonus).”

“Think outside what you are doing in the laboratory – there is a big world out there and it is so important to have a translational mindset by thinking about how what you are doing in the lab setting is applicable to “real-world” outcomes.”


Aida Shakouri (2017-18 MedTech-Pharma Program VIC)

Aida is a late stage PhD candidate majoring in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne and the Royal Women’s Hospital. Her research focuses on developing a platform to improve stem-cell based therapies.

Aida finished her undergraduate and master’s degree at the Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran and worked as a research fellow at the Sina Trauma and Surgery Research centre, Sina Hospital (Iran) focusing on spinal cord injuries before coming to Australia for her PhD studies.

In her final year of PhD studies, Aida joined the IMNIS program as a mentee (Victoria), and was mentored by Ms. Gina Kennedy from Covance. The IMNIS mentorship program helped her to pursue her career in the industry as a Clinical Research Associate at Syneos Health.

Why did you participate in the IMNIS program?

“From the beginning of my PhD journey I was curious about the alternative career paths to the traditional academic one. In the first year of my PhD studies, I volunteered to organise two career development sessions through the Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) as the chair of the organising committee. In these events, the panellists were all individuals with different career paths, all stemming from a STEM PhD. I was so lucky to see and learn from these incredible individuals and found what would be the most exciting career opportunity for me. I knew what I wanted, but I was not sure how I could get there and I found IMNIS to be a perfect support for me to find my paths to get where I want to be.”

Did you achieve what you originally aimed to achieve in your mentoring journey?

“I joined the IMNIS program not knowing how much support I would receive and how much this support would help me get my first industry job. This journey not only achieved what I was aiming for, but also worked out way beyond my original aims.”

How did your IMNIS mentor/ the IMNIS initiative help you get to where you are now? Do you feel more confident? Have you gained new skills?

“This program has helped me in many ways. To name a few, I got the confidence and assurance that I will be able to pursue my dream job, it helped me to extend my network and to improve my communication skills. I am so excited to see how this fantastic initiative achieves bigger goals in the future and helps the next generation of STEM PhD to pursue their career goals.”


Sahan Kuruneru (2017-18 Energy-Minerals Resources Program QLD)

Sahan received his Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) (Honours) at the University of New South Wales in 2010. He secured a graduate mechanical engineering role at Transpacific Industries, Australia’s leading waste management firm. Later, Sahan completed a Master of Research degree at the Queensland University of Technology. Afterwards, he decided to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the Queensland University of Technology in 2015 supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship. His research was on developing advanced numerical models (computational fluid dynamics) to study multiphase solid-gas flows and particulate fouling in porous metal foam heat exchangers for the power-generation industries.

Following the completion of his PhD, Sahan made the move from academia to industry. Sahan is currently employed as an R&D engineer at the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial & Research Organization (CSIRO) in Newcastle NSW. Sahan’s job focuses on developing advanced numerical models with the prime goal of enhancing the thermal efficiency of concentrated solar thermal plants.

What did you find was the most valuable aspect of the IMNIS program?

“The IMNIS program allowed me to tap into the hidden job market. In addition, I learned to use my PhD to further advance my career. The advice and guidance offered by the IMNIS mentors is unrivalled.”

How did IMNIS help you to get to where you are now/to your current position?

“The IMNIS program has given me a great opportunity to network with industry leaders across Australia and to learn about career opportunities in the industry. My mentor and I discussed what it takes to be successful in industry. My mentor highlighted the importance of transferable skills and we discussed how to write a CV tailored to each job you apply to as well as the most commonly asked interview questions. All that hard work paid off and I managed to secure a job in my field.”

Are there impacts from your mentoring partnership and/or the program that you are still experiencing today?

“The IMNIS program has certainly given me a clearer idea of how I can l leverage my PhD knowledge and skillset to find a suitable job that aligns with my career goals and interests.”

Do you think your experience with IMNIS will have a continued impact for you in the future?

“Absolutely! The seminars, workshops, networking events and all the hands-on advice helped me to develop a clearer idea of what I want to do in the long run and I am better prepared to carve out a successful career.”


Jomana Al-Nu’airat (2017-18 Energy-Minerals Program WA)

Jomana Al-Nu’airat is currently a systems engineer with Synergy at Muja Power Station. She has five years of experience in engineering research, development, and management. Her motivation stems from her passion for excellence and a strong commitment to finding solutions.

Jomana received her honours in chemical engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology with the degree of achievement. She also awarded the First place at the Sixth National Technology Parade (NTP), the First place at JOSCO (Jordan Oil Shale Company) Award for Applied Scientific Research, and the First place at the Jordan Engineers Association Competition for the graduation projects of engineering colleges in Jordanian universities. Her novel research approach not only provided a solution to eliminate two industrial wastes (Electric arc furnace dust and waste halogenated plastic materials) but also to extract Zinc in feasible way.

Recently, Jomana finished her chemical engineering PhD while holding the Murdoch University Strategic Scholarship (MUSS) award. She worked on putting an end to coal spontaneous fires worldwide. During her research at Murdoch, she maintained an excellent performance and delivered 10 scientific research papers in top-tier journals. She has landed the Three minutes thesis competition (3 MT) runner-up award, the Three minutes thesis competition (3 MT) People’s Choice award, and was awarded Australia’s (EA) selected finalist Postgraduate Research Excellence Award (2017). In general, she loves design in all terms especially those providing practical solutions to industrial problems, and a love for hiking completes the list. Jomana was a mentee in the Energy-Minerals Resources program in Western Australia.

Jomana says:

“I am greatly thankful for the opportunity to be part of the IMNIS mentoring program. It was a wonderful experience and made me even more certain that I would like to pursue a career in industry.”

“I was able to spend many hours with my mentor talking about my goals and plans. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to get the help I needed to focus and make plans when I started out without much hope. The advice and experience have been tremendously helpful throughout these past twelve months. As a result of the expertise and guidance, I landed my first industrial job, and am proud to be the first woman engineer to work at Muja power station.”


Manuel Herduin (2017-18 Energy-Minerals Resources Program WA)

Manuel Herduin is currently a Project Engineer at Deep Sea Mooring. Manuel completed his BSc. in France in Civil Engineering and his MSc. in France in Renewable Energy. Manuel has a passion for the ocean and is motivated by digging into new experiences and challenges.

In early 2019 Manuel completed his PhD in Offshore Geotechnical Engineering. In his PhD Manuel looked at the possibility to connect one anchor to multiple floating facilities. His PhD mainly used an experimental approach (soil element tests and centrifuge modelling) with a small part of numerical modelling (hydrodynamic modelling of wave energy converters).

Prior to his current position at Deep Sea Mooring, Manuel worked as a research assistant at the University of Exeter (UK) working on offshore renewable energy projects and at the University of Illinois (US) working in soil mechanics.

Manuel says:

“Thanks to IMNIS, I invested a significant amount of my time in planning my future career, with the help of my mentor. One year before finishing my degree, I had come up with a career plan and listed multiple ways to reach the goals in my career plan. As a result of a very early planning of my career, I submitted my PhD on a Friday and started working as a permanent full-time engineer for a highly reputable company in my field the next Monday.”

“Two years after the end of the IMNIS program, I am still in touch with my mentor on a regular basis. I strongly believe that my mentor provided me with the right advice and mindset for an efficient and successful start in the professional environment. I owe my positive start in industry to my mentor.”

“I have learnt through the IMNIS program that the establishment of a broad professional network, from various field, is a key to success. Universities teach you what to know but not who to know. In industry, it is about who you know.”


Jitesh Hora (2017-18 Energy Program SA)

Jitesh Hora is a result-oriented professional specialised in Metallurgical Engineering & Materials Science. Jitesh completed a Bachelor & Master of Technology (Dual Degree Program) at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India (IIT BOMBAY). He then commenced his PhD in the field of material science in Future Industries Institute at University of South Australia. Jitesh’s project objective is to use nanoengineering to understand the effect of mechanical properties of polymeric substrates on structure-property relationships of metallic ultra-thin films, deposited on them in order to produce nano structured coatings.

During his PhD journey, Jitesh developed a firm desire to pursue a career in the protection and management of intellectual property supporting commercialisation of research in this subject matter area. Jitesh joined the IMNIS Energy-Resources program in South Australia where he was paired with his mentor who helped him to understand industry, clear many confusions, and provide valuable advice and guidance. With the guidance of his mentor, Jitesh gained his first employment as a Trainee Patent Attorney in early 2019.

Would you recommend participating in the IMNIS program to your peers?

“I am a great supporter of IMNIS program. I have learnt a lot from the program. The regular events are amazing and provide a lot of scope for networking. Overall, I would say IMNIS provides a very strong platform to learn a lot in order to become an accomplished professional.”

“I can assuredly say that it was the IMNIS mentoring program and my mentor that gave me the tools, guidance and determination to make a transition into industry that might have otherwise never happened! I strongly recommend participating in the IMNIS program to my peers.”

What was the best piece of advice you received? What was the most important aspect of this professional relationship for you?

“I had no clear idea of the different career options available in the area of IP management and protection. I prepared a list of questions for the first meeting with my mentor, as my mind was full of questions. When we first met, my mentor gave me clear direction, and with frequent discussions over email and phone my initial questions were answered. In subsequent communications, my mentor guided me to develop a professional career in this field. I firmly believe that I got my first employment as Trainee Patent Attorney only because of the guidance of my mentor.”

Did you achieve what you originally aimed to achieve in your mentoring journey?

“I have achieved more than what I had originally aimed to achieve in my mentoring journey. I have learnt a lot during this journey and have made many good networks.”