Franklin Women events provide practical support for women in their career journeys both inside and outside of academia. An event on career transitions provided the training opportunity Lilly Bojarski needed to make the move from blue-sky research into industry.
Lilly Bojarski had been to her fair share of workshops on career pathways for young scientists. She had plenty of information and ideas but realised she also needed to make the right connections, and gain some industry insights.
The ambitious researcher had been interested in the commercialisation of science since working as a lab technician, before starting her PhD. But her research had no direct commercial application, so it felt like a big leap.
It wasn’t until a few years later, after Lilly had moved to Australia via Denmark and joined the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, that she connected with Franklin Women and found the opportunity that has led to a successful career in industry.
Invited by a colleague, she attended Franklin Women’s Career Transitions event which would give her the training she needed to launch her new career crossing biotech and pharma.
The event showcased 12 health researchers who each had non-traditional scientific careers to redefine what success looks like and share tangible evidence on entering diverse roles.
But Franklin Women events are always much more than networking functions. Franklin Women aims to give attendees practical skills and tangible support to follow their preferred career paths – so women are empowered to take on roles that fully utilise their expertise.
In this case, Franklin Women partnered with From Science to Pharma, a global training company, to offer one training course as a competition prize for event attendees interested in industry careers. Lilly wrote her pitch and won.
“It was a lucky break for me,” Lilly says. “I was a typical academic PhD grad; I really hadn’t had very much industry exposure at all up until that point.”
The training course which Lilly accessed through Franklin Women put her in a prime position to land her first role as a medical science liaison (MSL). With direct insight into the industry Lilly knew what transferrable skills and research experience pharmaceutical companies wanted to hear about.
“It really laid out in an amazing amount of detail what the job entails, in a way that was practical and immediately applicable,” Lilly says.
Dr Lilly Bojarski, former researcher and lab manager at the Garvan Institute, now Senior Business Development Associate with Bio-Link, won a From Science to Pharma training course at the Franklin Women Career Transitions event.
She also had one-on-one coaching with From Science to Pharma director and founder Martijn Bijker, an experience which Lilly says she could not have accessed any other way at that point in her career.
Looking back now, Lilly says that the training course made available through Franklin Women made a profound contribution to her career transition.
Soon after, she started working as an MSL with a pharmaceutical start-up where she would discuss therapeutic approaches with clinicians and upskill in medical and regulatory affairs.
Now embedded in biotech, Lilly advises researchers on how to take their discovery or early-stage product from the lab to the market, as a Senior Business Development Associate with Bio-Link.
She continues to attend Franklin Women events to connect with researchers and keep abreast of ways they can navigate the science and biotech ecosystem.
“Even though I’m no longer in academia, having that forum to learn about the funding strategies, advice or services available for researchers is great. That’s something that can be translated into valuable information for our clients,” says Lilly, who has become a vital link between research and industry.
“Franklin Women is a terrific initiative in that way.”