Sue on a cable car in San Francisco (one of her favourite things). [Image: S. Keay]

“Mentors should be critical listeners and challenge mentees to see things from other viewpoints, while also being sensitive to times when uncritical support is required”

Recognised as a Superstar of STEM by Science & Technology Australia, Dr Sue Keay runs the world’s first robotic vision research centre. The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision is an ARC Centre of Excellence with more than 100 researchers distributed across Australian and overseas research institutions.

By creating robots that see and understand their environment, Sue believes we will finally reach the tipping point where robots can assume capabilities that have previously only been imagined. Sue recently developed a successful $1.5m R&D project supported by the Queensland government to explore the vision capabilities of Softbank’s social robot, Pepper.

With a PhD in Earth Sciences, Sue is a highly trained scientist with advanced executive-level business skills. Escaping the lab to move into research management and commercialisation, she has demonstrated national leadership, directing and ensuring impact from multidisciplinary R&D programs spanning engineering, physical and social sciences.

With interests in entrepreneurship and disruptive technologies, Sue is completing her MBA with UQ Business School, successfully delivering an international consulting project in public cloud adoption and cybersecurity  with the Wharton Business School (UPenn). A Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, she serves on the Board of the CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction and the Advisory Board of Brisbane.AI.

Keen to make sure that women contribute to the development of the technologies of the future, Sue believes that everyone can be a roboticist and that science should be accessible to everyone. To celebrate women’s contribution to technology she is bringing the Grace Hopper Celebration to Australia in 2019. Sue is a mentor in the IMNIS Queensland Programs.

The characteristics of her brand have been described as, “integrity, caring, genuineness, innovation and, perhaps most importantly of all, fun!”

Why are you participating in the IMNIS program?

I recognise the value of mentoring and wish I had more mentoring when I was younger so am excited to have the opportunity to contribute.

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

Mentors should be critical listeners and challenge mentees to see things from other viewpoints, while also being sensitive to times when uncritical support is 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?

My mentee has clear goals and each meeting we work through some aspect on the path to helping her achieve those goals.

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

Communication skills, which is more than oral and written presentation skills it is also about listening and ensuring you under the problems being faced by industry.

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

Working with young talented people is always inspiring and gives me energy.

Twitter: @suekeay

LinkedIn: Sue Keay