Tiziana Zingali, PhD student and IMNIS mentee in the NSW MedTech-Pharma Program in 2017 – University of Technology Sydney

“[My mentor] made me realise that PhDs are very valuable for industry, we just need to know how to show our skills in the best light possible”

Tiziana is a Sicilian passionate microbiologist and currently a PhD candidate at the ithree Institute, University of Technology Sydney. Her PhD project is founded by Ausgem, a successful partnership between the ithree Institute (UTS) and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. Her research is investigating the genomic features of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli isolated from the gut of Australian pigs, the mechanisms of resistance development and the transfer of antimicrobial resistant determinants across bacterial cells. She completed her Master of Science Degree at University of Catania, Italy, where she built her background knowledge in clinical microbiology. In 2016, she decided to move to Sydney to strengthen her English language skills and pursue her career goals. Tiziana is a mentee in the 2017 IMNIS MedTech-Pharma program in New South Wales.

Why are you participating in the IMNIS program?

Since I was an undergraduate student, an industry mentor was what I was looking for. At that time I already had an academic mentor, but I have always been curious to know what is beyond the academic world which I have always been part of, and how my professional profile could fit outside of it. When I had the opportunity to apply to be part of IMNIS I thought it was the perfect opportunity to finally have a clue of what is happening on “the other side” of the working world and understanding the path of the transition process from academia to industry.

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

I believe that the IMNIS team made up a great match between me and my mentor, Anita Derks, currently the Head of Quality at New Zealand Pharmaceuticals Ltd. We have the same microbiology studies background and her expertise in veterinary vaccines is partially related to my PhD project. Moreover, we were both born in April! For me, the most important aspect of this professional relationship is the reciprocal respect that we have for each other and her genuine commitment to help and guide me throughout my career. I am honoured to have her as my mentor.

What do you hope your mentor can help you achieve and what is the best piece of advice you have received so far?

Anita is definitely teaching me how to think outside of the box. Academia is very different from industry and I thought I did not have the right cards to make the transition from one world to another. With Anita’s help I modified my resume to make it more suitable for industry and I now have a clear idea of what recruiters are looking for. She is also helping me with how to set achievable goals and how to better manage my time. Anita made me realise that PhDs are very valuable for industry, we just need to know how to show our skills in the best light possible.

What are the top 3 key things you hope to learn through the IMNIS program?

We are close to the end of this amazing year of IMNIS, which I strongly recommend to my peers as a must-do experience if they are thinking of pursuing a non-academic career. Thanks to IMNIS I realised that industry is looking for highly skilled young people, no matter if they come from academia. IMNIS has given me the opportunity to meet new people and listen to their precious life experience stories, and building a good professional network is always at the top of their lists.

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

The most rewarding aspect of the IMNIS program was for me meeting outstanding people like Anita, the IMNIS Executive Director Marguerite Evans-Galea, and all the entrepreneurs, CEOs, chief scientists that I met throughout the last year, who decided to commit their time and energy to give to the next generation of STEM leaders a chance to thrive.

Take home message from my IMNIS experience: I am now ready to take the leap!