A different journey: academia to industry and back.

Hi Franklin Women! I am Yosephine, a new member of FW. Unlike with other FW’s blog, I would like to share a rather different story - my personal story of transitioning from a job in industry back to academia!

Yosephine_in_labPart 1 - Multiple pathways lead to a successful career. I finished my PhD in protein engineering in 2010. I was working on improving the desired property of enzymes so that they could be useful for industrial applications, ranging from pharmaceuticals to bioremediation. I had always thought that I was not suited for a traditional academic career as I preferred doing applied rather than basic research. I was lucky enough that my main PhD project was applied however I also had side projects that were more around deepening basic knowledge. When an opportunity to work in industry came by after finishing my PhD (a former colleague who went to industry following her post-doc offered me a position in her company) I knew I had to take up my dream job as Product Development Manager. My key responsibilities in this role were to develop ideas and new formulations for product launches, to prepare and present the concepts/product prototypes to customers, to generate preliminary costs for new products and reformulations and to maintain knowledge on regulation issues and competitor business. In addition, I had to monitor efficient working of all projects and ensure compliance to project plan/timeframe and allocate appropriate resources for project and prioritise them. Phew...a lot!

I was initially satisfied with the work however after spending 1.5 years in industry I felt there was something missing in my career. Instead of applying for similar jobs in another company I re-entered academia by taking up a post-doctoral research position at The University of Queensland (UQ). To my own surprise, despite the pressure of having to publish and obtain grants, I now enjoy the privilege of doing research that I am passionate about (learning from the nature on the best ways of engineering enzymes, for example by resurrecting ancient proteins to create robust enzymes!). Unlike being tied to the rigid corporate structure, working in an university environment offers you appealing aspects that the job can offer - freedom (you can write, develop and even apply funds to support your own ideas/ passion) and working with students (which could be fun but also stressful which leads me to Part 2 of this post...) More...