As COO, I am responsible for anything which doesn’t directly come under science. But growing up, I never thought I’d find myself where I am now. In fact, I dreamed of becoming a vet. But when I finished at school, I was a little at sea when I didn’t receive a high enough mark to qualify for the degree.
Instead, I studied science at university with the hope of eventually transferring into veterinary studies. But when I was finally accepted into the course, my PhD supervisor proposed the opportunity of a lifetime – to complete my PhD at Stanford University in the US, which I decided to do.
I came back to Australia in 1991 as a post-doctorate researcher in bladder cancer, but my career was about to take another unexpected turn. I discovered that while I really liked medical research, I didn’t want to be a bench scientist. I was incredibly fortunate that I came back when our Inaugural Director, Professor Tony Basten AO, was building Centenary. He gave me extra tasks that would help me slowly transition away from the bench and into the business of science.
My key advice is to be open to opportunities, because there are so many diverse roles for scientists outside the lab – whether that be in commercialisation, science communication or even as an analyst in an investment bank.