Karen Sinclair, Principal at Watermark and mentor in the IMNIS MedTech-Pharma program in VIC

Dynamic and energetic, Karen is passionate about focussing her clients on turning their IP into a working portfolio of assets which delivers commercial outcomes, enhances their competitive position in the market and which is aligned with the overall objectives of the business. ‘I love seeing my clients’ products on the shelf. Innovation is often remarkable, but unless it’s successful in the marketplace it hasn’t done its job – and neither have I.

Technically qualified in organic chemistry and life sciences and with 30 years’ experience as a patent and trade marks attorney, Karen works on a diverse range of start up and SME-owned global patent and trade mark portfolios for Australian clients, and also for well-known global multinationals in the chemical and pharmaceutical fields. She has extensive experience in medical and biodegradable polymers, feminine and infant hygiene products, product formulation, consumer health care and nutraceuticals, vaccine technology and diagnostic methods.

Karen has two adult sons both studying in science, a dog, and loves paying forward the years of good advice and experience she has had by teaching at the University of Melbourne in the Law School and through mentoring.

“[My mentee] has been open to all ideas and opportunities and together we have been able to work out what lights her up, and where she wants to be moving forward. We’ve met about every 6 weeks over the year and will continue to catch up after the program formally closes. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed helping someone find peace with what comes next in their life!”

Why are you participating in the IMNIS program? Why did you want to be an industry mentor?

I get a kick from passing on what I know and have learnt: as an attorney, as a business woman, as a mother and as a human being. I love science, and am passionate about Australians doing more with science than they do.

What is the most crucial aspect of this professional relationship for you?

Mutual respect and mutual learning.

When you meet with your mentee, do you work together on a set of goals or do you go where the conversation takes you?

To some extent we go where the conversation takes us, but I always try to focus in on a particular issue or goal and drive to an end point at which my mentee feels like their questions have been answered or their goals met.

What are the key skills PhD students need to successfully engage with industry or work in industry?

Willingness to get outside their lab bubble, and to put themselves out there for new experiences.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program for you so far?

Giving back!