What are your main responsibilities or activities in your current position?
Business development, fundraising, product development, and team management.
How does your current work relate to your graduate degree?
I apply my education from UBC every day at my current position. Key skills from graduate school: hypothesis-based problem solving, research project management, technical writing, technical communication, and time management
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
Advancing scientific concepts in a for-profit atmosphere adds an additional layer of complexity to problem solving. Not only do the technical specs have to be exceptional, they must be delivered at a specific price point to be relevant. Business building is a whole new beast beyond scientific discovery. Weaving the two together is exciting and challenging.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
Definitely not. I try to keep all options open and see what is most suitable for my happiness and financial sustainability.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
Incredible department, location, and my brilliant supervisor, Mark MacLachlan.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
Very liberating research environment. I was guided but not forced to study any particular subject. Prof. MacLachlan allowed my own creativity to shine as I progressed in my studies. Skiing at Whistler regularly was also pretty incredible.
What key things did you do, or what attitudes or approaches did you have, that contributed to your success?
I embraced new challenges, tackled problems outside my expertise to broaden my knowledge base, and voraciously read the existing literature to help recognize results that are truly unique and important. It is ok and completely natural to know that you don't know something; if it is important, take action to fill in your knowledge gaps. Set goals and outline steps that will help you accomplish them. Be your own biggest advocate. Your advisor does care about you but has many other things on his/her mind. Only you have your own best interest as a first priority.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Be curious, adventurous, and fearless! Go out and pursue internships in industry, teaching, journalism - whatever interests you. The biggest failure of my graduate program was a lack of career planning beyond being a university professor, a path that only one in five grad students can possibly follow.
Did you have any breaks in your education?
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I made it. The NSF I-corps program, a pseudo boot camp for startup founders, was instrumental in steering me down my current career path.
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
So many. For brevity, I want to emphasize that the key to overcoming challenges is staying positive and tackling them in bite size bits with an optimistic attitude. You will act according to how you feel, and only you are in control of your emotions.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
I try to hire from within my network.