Maggie Lieu, PhD Candidate and IMNIS mentee in the 2017 MedTech-Pharma program in VIC (Monash University) [Image: BIO2018]

“[The IMNIS program] has given me the confidence that the skills that I have developed during my PhD are indeed transferable in the industry.”

I am currently a final year PhD candidate in the Department of Pharmacology, Monash University. My PhD project investigates the role of the immune system in the development of hypertension, in hope of identifying better therapies to treat patients with this condition.

During the course of my PhD, I have had the opportunity to present at the 2015 and 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting of Australian Vascular Biology Society as well as the 2016 American Physiological Society Conference on Inflammation, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease. I have received awards for oral (first place) and poster (second place) conference presentations from the Australian Vascular Biology Society. I am currently writing up my PhD thesis for submission in November 2018.

I am an active participant in the industry sector as reflected in my involvement in several national and international conferences as a volunteer including ARCS2018, BIO2018 and AusBiotech2017. I am passionate about learning about the industry, fostering relationships with industry personnel and using my professional skillset and scientific expertise to make an impact on healthcare and patient’s lives.

I was privileged to participate in the VIC IMNIS-MedTech Pharma program in 2017, mentored by Dr. Megan Robertson. My mentor and I have developed a great professional relationship and I have no doubt that we will continue such a fantastic relationship outside of this program.

Why did you participate in the IMNIS program?

As a PhD student, I found that there was little information on the career options outside of academia. When I heard about this program, I knew this would be a great opportunity for me 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. I knew that it would be valuable to receive guidance and career advice from someone in the industry and I was fortunate enough to be paired up with Dr. Megan Robertson.

How often did you meet with your mentor and did you prepare for these meetings? What was the best piece of advice you received? What was the most important aspect of this professional relationship for you?

I met with my mentor in person every 1-2 months. At the first meeting, we discussed what we each wanted out of the program and what we would both do to help each other achieve these goals. During our meetings, we discussed potential opportunities available in the sector and career avenues that I should consider exploring. We also spoke about how to network effectively and how to adapt my CV for a role in the industry. At the conclusion of each meeting, we both came away with a small set of achievable goals to pursue over the next few weeks before the next meeting.

The best pieces of advice that I received from Megan was to not be afraid to look outside of the “academic” box. She taught me that there are a wide range of career paths outside of academia and that the skills that I have developed during my PhD are transferable to the industry sector. Megan also strongly encouraged me to put myself out there and engage with industry as much as possible by attending conferences or networking events.

“I felt comfortable asking questions and obtaining feedback from her about my current research and career aspirations.”

What I loved about our mentor-mentee relationship was how easy it was to communicate to one another. I felt comfortable asking questions and obtaining feedback from her about my current research and career aspirations. I am truly appreciative of the time and support she has given me.

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

I would strongly recommend my peers to participate in this program, not only to PhD candidates seeking to transition from academia into the industry but also for individuals that are interested in understanding how their research is relevant to the industry.

“This mentoring program was truly one of the best experiences of my PhD.”

This mentoring program was truly one of the best experiences of my PhD. Not only did the IMNIS program connect me with an industry mentor who is a leader in their field but also allowed me to attend a range of events to network with other mentees and other industry personnel that are involved in the program.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you?

The most rewarding experience of this program was that my mentor opened me up to the various opportunities in the industry. My mentor continually encouraged me to participate in industry-related events and conferences. She helped me expand my network by introducing me to her colleagues who are leaders in their field and encouraged me to network with industry personnel outside my circle. By doing so, I have now made some great contacts in the industry who themselves have become my mentors!

Did IMNIS help you get to where you are now?

Yes, the IMNIS program has helped me better understand the industry, build my network and learn how to transition from academia into industry. Importantly, it has given me the confidence that the skills that I have developed during my PhD are indeed transferable in the industry. I also have a clear idea of the roles that I would like to pursue following completion of my PhD. This would not have been possible without the support and guidance of my IMNIS mentor. I am excited for the next stage of my career as I make the leap into industry.

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/maggie-lieu