Leah Lim Mottishaw
Where and what is your current position?
I am an independent contractor with professional development companies and I deliver presentations for a living. The topics vary from skill-building (communication, minute-taking, business writing) to personal development (emotional intelligence, self-esteem) and professional development (goal setting, motivation). I have had the opportunity to work with groups of entrepreneurs, actors, women, Asian women and the First Nations peoples.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
No, I thought I would work in biotech sales, which seems very different! However, I can say that I imagined myself in biotech sales because I liked the idea of talking to people about what they do and helping them move their research forward. My dream career was basically to talk with people, get to know them and to help them accomplish cool stuff! And that is kind of what I do now...
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
The best science will go unappreciated if you can’t communicate well. I had lots of practice presenting my work during my graduate degree and that experience of giving presentations is what got me started with presenting professionally.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I finished my BSc at SFU, and I felt like I wasn't done. But I wanted a change, and UBC had wonderful programs available. I was fortunate that Dr. Thompson accepted me into his Laboratory, and I started my MSc right away after finishing at SFU.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
The autonomy of setting my direction.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
My own personal development. It has been hugely empowering to look at myself as a unique person with unique quirks. From this perspective, I can set highly customized goals and take an approach that really works for me. I am happier, more self-aware, and absolutely more successful for it.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Study things outside your field and meet people outside of school. I started doing a lot of personal development when I was working on my MSc, which led me to be more productive and happier doing my research. Additionally, I met people I would never have dreamed of meeting and that opened up my perspective and taught me new ways to talk to people about science.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
It was the classic “who you know.” I jump at opportunities to give presentations (for example, I took part in the 3-Minute Thesis at UBC). This willingness to jump in means I get in front of people. And because I get in front of people a lot, I sometimes have people tell me “you know you could teach [this course…]”. I follow up with invitations like that, and now it’s what I do!
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
My biggest challenge has been advocating for myself. I love setting my own direction, but I struggled with being "pushy" and asking other people for help. For example, I felt very shy about asking my supervisor to read my thesis, and then to read it again, and again. It felt like an imposition, and it was hard for me to get over that (and this hesitation made me slower, overall).
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
I’m still learning. If you know, please tell me!
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
I love meeting new people and giving them education, strategies or information that helps them. I find it challenging to remember people’s names and I prefer to use nametags in my presentations!