veski kickstart networking





Research to industry - assisting Masters, PhD and early career researchers to make the move

The final veski kickstart for 2017 provided STEM Masters, PhD and early-career researchers, from across Victorian Universities with the opportunity to engage with industry leaders who in turn provided insight into alternative career paths; how to manage expectations; what skills industry are looking for, and how to navigate differing cultural environments.

Students were advised about jobs of the future, provided with a fact sheet on the Do’s and Don’ts on approaching potential employers and guided on how best to articulate and showcase their enterprise skills. The presentations were followed by two separate workshops depending on where the student was in their transition from academia to industry.  These workshops were followed by breakout sessions where students had the opportunity to speak with industry leaders across sectors in managed networking groups.  

Click here to watch presenter videos.




Bronwyn Lee - Foundation for Young Australians (FYA)

Bronwyn is Deputy CEO at the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA).  FYA is committed to young people, their futures and the contribution they can make to Australia and informs the national agenda on the issues that most affect them. Bronwyn is passionate about redefining the role of young people in our society and how the not-for-profit sector can drive social innovation in Australia.  She has a deep practical and theoretical knowledge of the community sector, with over fifteen years experience working in non-profits.  

She is currently a Non-Executive Director at the International Women's Development Agency and a Board Member at the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.  Prior to FYA, Bronwyn led the 40 Hour Famine at World Vision Australia.  Bronwyn holds a Masters degree in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development in addition to a Bachelor of Commerce.  LinkedIn Profile.


Alexander Kennedy - previous veski kickstart student attendee

Alexander is an expert in infectious diseases, innate immunity and inflammation with a track record of producing high-quality outcomes. He has outstanding analysis, communication (verbal and written), interpersonal, organisation and adaptability skills honed whilst conducting innovative research into a novel topic during his PhD. As a result of this research, Alex is also an international opinion leader in the field of malaria interactions with the complement system.  As a previous attendee at veski kickstart, he will share his experiences of developing successful connections with industry participants at the event that led to him making the transition to industry.
Alex is a passionate believer in the need to develop medical research so it reaches those who need it most.  LinkedIn Profile.


Jo Turner  - Pharmaceutical & Medical Professionals

Jo has over 17 years’ experience in the recruitment industry, over half of this time has been spent recruiting for the healthcare industry. During this time, Jo has recruited for a broad range of positions. Most recently, she has been responsible for the recruitment of regulatory affairs, medical affairs and executive level positions. In addition, she has been integral in assisting with the growth of PMP's corporate services division in order to provide a true end to end service for their customers within industry.

Jo has demonstrated a passion for her role; she enjoys building positive working relationships with others. This ability to build strong relationships, ensures that she meets the deliverables for all assignments she works on. Jo also has a consultative style in terms of her approach with both clients and candidates, ensuring that all aspects of an assignment are covered when engaging key stakeholders.  LinkedIn Profile.


Shannon Matthews - AstraZeneca 

Shannon studied a Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Science) at the Queensland University of Technology. Upon completion, she worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane in their Haematology and Haemostasis laboratories before moving over to the UK to pursue her career further. In her 7 years abroad, she added to her portfolio the areas of immunohaematology and stem cell transplantation before relocating back to Australia 4 years ago and settling in Melbourne to take a role at The Royal Childrens Hospital in their Cancer Centre as transplant coordinator. Shannon began her MBA at The University of Melbourne in 2015 shortly after accepted a position working for Astrazeneca as a Medical Representative.   LinkedIn Profile.


 Josee Lancombe - C2 International

At C2, we believe that experimentation leads to a culture of innovation. The workshop will lead participants to discover their own ability to think differently. Through collaboration and atypical brainstorming experiences, the session will include information about C2 International conference, involvement opportunities and tips to look at future employment with confidence.






Additional Industry Participants


Ms Jo Cuttler - CH2M

Jo Cuttler graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science, Honours degree. She co-majored in Chemistry and Biochemistry and her honours research was in organic chemistry. Jo commenced her career as a research and development chemist with Mobil Oil Australia, developing environmentally friendly products.

Her career spans 14 years in the petrochemical industry and 10 years in consulting (primarily in environmental and remediation services). Jo is currently CH2M’s Regional Business Group Manager for its environmental and nuclear services business. In this executive role, Jo manages business performance, key client relationships, provides technical direction and she manages a talented team of engineers and scientists nationally. Jo has enjoyed a varied technical career, stemming from her passion and lifelong interest in science.  LinkedIn Profile.

Dr Leonie Walsh – Productive MS

Leonie Walsh is a leader and adviser in technological innovation with a background that spans more than 30 years of experience both locally and internationally across a diverse range of industries and applications. Leonie draws from this experience to support government, academia and businesses on strategic science and technology issues including innovation efficiency, technology commercialisation and the future skilled workforce through a range of related boards, advisory and advocacy activities.

Leonie has recently completed a 3-year term as Victoria's inaugural Lead Scientist from 2013 to 2016. In this capacity Leonie was a contributing member on the Future Industries Ministerial Advisory Council, provided contributions to the Education State activities and STEM plan via the Tech Schools STEM Future Industries Advisory Panel and the STEM advisory committee and represented Victoria on the Forum of Australian Chief Scientists.  LinkedIn Profile.


Mr Mark Cassar – veski director

Mr Mark Cassar has had executive roles spanning the Information Technology and Finance sectors for over 25 years. In 2004 he founded a technology start-up which was to become Bluedoor Technologies in 2005.

Its flagship product was the first of its kind to fully integrate Imaging, Intelligent Character Recognition, Workflow, Reporting with Wealth Management administration. It was also the first system to provide a fully online transactional capability to the Wealth Management market in Australia. In 2015 Bluedoor employed over 600 staff in Melbourne, Hyderabad and the UK which continue product development and support its multi-national financial services clients.  LinkedIn Profile.


Dr Mary Lydon – Australian Road Research Board  

Dr Mary Lydon has over 40 years of experience in roads and road safety including roles in research, policy development and construction and maintenance. From 2008 to 2015 she was Director of the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide having previously held the positions of General Manager, Research with the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) and Operations Manager for Northern Region with VicRoads. 

Mary holds a PhD (University of Queensland), a Masters of Transport Engineering (Monash University) and a Degree in Engineering with Operations Research (University of Sussex). Mary is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers and in 2015 was presented with the Roads Australia Award for Technical Excellence in recognition of her contribution to road safety in Australia.

She currently has a role with ARRB as an advisor and mentor in research standards and academic excellence.  LinkedIn Profile.


Mrs Siân Slade – Bristol-Myers Squibb

Mrs Siân Slade is a dynamic innovator and problem solver, with a key focus on quality use of medicines and a passionate interest in data connectivity to enable and expedite more impactful outcomes for patients.  A pharmacist by background, Siân has an MBA from Imperial College (London) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Siân has worked internationally with a variety of roles of increasing seniority at market, regional and global levels including roles in Europe, Asia Pacific, US and the Intercontinental region.  

Siân’s experience spans clinical development, medical affairs, sales, marketing and human resources and has included working in fast-moving therapeutic arenas of HIV, HCV and Oncology, leading Marketing Excellence for Europe Middle East & Africa as well as more recently leading global capabilities for knowledge management & content development within Bristol-Myers Squibb.  LinkedIn Profile.  


Mr David Bowser - Founder & CEO, Curio

David combines his strong analytical capacity, innate curiosity and enthusiasm to develop insights that can be embraced by organisations and readily implemented by staff. He advises clients in highly regulated sectors including education, financial services and healthcare specialising in strategy, marketing, product development, and organisational change engagements.  LinkedIn Profile.





Ms Lily Chisholm – KPMG

Prior to joining KPMG, Lily worked at veski in a special projects role, working closely with the veski chief executive officer to assist in the development and implementation of strategic plans and new projects. She was also a Project Manager in Prevention at Healthy London Partnership, leading an innovative program focused on tackling childhood obesity as part of the city-wide health transformational program. Lily also gained government experience through her role as Project Manager with the Agri-tech organisation, as part of the UK Government’s Trade and Investment (UKTI) priority sector strategy.

Prior to her roles in the UK, Lily worked as a Manager, Strategic Initiatives within the office of the Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure) at Monash University, leading a number of strategic projects to promote and encourage greater research and industry engagement and collaboration, including through contributing to the development of the University’s research platform strategy, international and industry partnerships. Lily holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) from the University of Melbourne and a Masters of Business (Science &Technology) from Monash University.  LinkedIn Profile.


Ms Entsar Hamid – Department of Premier and Cabinet

Ms Hamid is a member of the Institute for Public Administration Australia and has worked in the Victorian Public Service for the last 8 years in roles including Manager, Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), Senior Departmental Liaison Officer, Office of the Premier Victoria, Assistant Secretariat to the Chief Justice and the Courts Council of Victoria, Secretary to the Firearms Appeals Committee, and Secretariat to the Child Protection Proceedings Taskforce.

As a mentor for Leadership Victoria, and a qualified Mediator, Entsar provides mentees with advice and assists them to increase confidence and build networks. 

She is also the Co-Founding member of the Steering Committee for the Inaugural African Diaspora Women’s Summit.  LinkedIn Profile.


Dr Jordan Thurgood – Monash University

Jordan has a background in mechanical engineering and upon completing his Bachelor’s Degree he undertook a PhD in the area of diagnostic medical imaging. During his PhD Jordan was an inventor on numerous patent applications and, driven by a strong interest in business and commercialisation, completed a Graduate Certificate in Commercialising Research. Jordan then went on to co-founded a start-up company that was working on innovative imaging based solutions for the assessment of lung health. After a successful exit from the company in 2015, Jordan moved to Monash University to provide assistance in the commercialisation of other technologies from the Faculty of Engineering and IT.  LinkedIn Profile.


Maree Trovato – EMBL Australia

Maree joined EMBL Australia as Chief Operating Officer for the Partner Laboratory Network and Council Secretariat in September 2016. Her experience in the university and Defence research sectors has focused predominantly on external relationship management, program management, research governance and strategic planning. In her most recent role as Director, Science and Technology Program at the Defence Science and Technology Group, she fostered a high-performing culture of collaboration to deliver innovative science and technology outcomes for the maritime research division.  Maree studied physiology and neuroscience at Monash University followed by a Masters of Business and has recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Scientific Leadership from the University of Melbourne.  LinkedIn Profile.


Ms Julie Stevens – Monash University

Julie Stevens is an agent for social change. She has worked in entrepreneurship development across various initiatives since 2002. She has gained extensive experience in developing, managing and scaling programs designed to foster and promote entrepreneurship.  For 5 years she worked with a global Investment Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility team to develop a cluster model based on co-located services aimed at supporting start-ups from ideation through to launch. The initiative’s success was achieved through strategically aligned public-private sector partnership including corporate, local government and tertiary institutions.  In 2013 she earned a Masters in Journalism from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa with a focus on new media technologies and entrepreneurship. Julie joined Monash University’s The GENERATOR as Program Manager in January 2017 to implement strategies to extend the programs reach and impact.  LinkedIn Profile.


Dr Christian Gunawan – Circa Group

Christian Gunawan received his PhD at the University of Melbourne in synthetic organic chemistry in 2011. Thereafter, he worked as a Research Assistant and a Research Fellow at the university furthering his skills in organic chemistry before he joined Circa Group in 2015. 

Christian started with the purification of levoglucosenone, a chemical produced via Circa's patented Duracell Technology to be marketed as a polar aprotic biobased solvent that could potentially replace toxic solvents like DMF, DMSO, and NMP. His role in Circa Group has evolved since and now is a R&D Chemist, focusing on the scaling up production of dairy lactone from levoglucosenone and developing other product based on levoglucosenone and Cyrene.   LinkedIn Profile.


Dr Anna Bellamy-McIntyre - EY

After completing a PhD in Molecular Virology at the Burnet Institute, Anna spent a couple of years working on short term Post-Doctoral contracts before transitioning across to the BigFour where she has spent the last several years assisting companies across a number of industries access R&D related Government Incentives. She is currently working as a Manager at EY in their Business Tax Advisory – R&D and Technology Incentives Team.  LinkedIn Profile.




Mei Ng – Circa Group

I graduated at the end of last year with a Masters in chemical engineering at the University of Melbourne and started work with Circa shortly after as a process engineer. My work revolves around the joint venture Circa has with Norske Skog Tasmania. The joint venture, called FC5 is a prototype plant based in Hobart that will be producing a newly patented chemical called Cyrene when fully operational. Cyrene was invented by the founders of Circa and has interesting properties that have the potential of replacing chemicals that are harmful to public health and the environment.    LinkedIn Profile.



Jesse Reader – Robert Bosch Australia

Jesse is an accomplished agronomist with 15yrs experience in Agriculture and has spent that time in a variety of roles including on-farm agronomy, providing technical management and oversight of a multimillion dollar R&D portfolio for Apple and Pear Australia Ltd. 

His position at Bosch is centred on business development as the company explores the AgTech market, and alligns industry pain points with their technology capability in sensors, software, hardware and cloud connectivity.  Bosch are active supporters of the start-up ecosystem and have backed one of the most impressive early stage agtech business in Australia, The Yield.  LinkedIn Profile.


Dr Sheila Barbero – Griffith Hack

Prior to joining Griffith Hack, Sheila gained over five years of experience in chemistry research at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland, working as part of a team of chemists, molecular modellers, biologists and pharmacologists. Sheila’s main focus was medicinal chemistry and her primary research involved synthesis, purification and characterisation of small organic molecules and peptides, and biological evaluation of compounds in enzyme inhibition assays.

As a registered attorney at Griffith Hack, Sheila has handled patent portfolios for a range of clients in different areas of chemical technology, particularly in pharmaceuticals and food technology.Sheila has experience in prosecuting patent applications in Australia, New Zealand and throughout Asia, working on opposition proceedings in Australia and New Zealand, and drafting patent applications for local clients. She has also been involved in the analysis of patent search results in a variety of chemical technology areas.  Sheila has completed her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry, Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (Honours) and Bachelor of Science in Drug Design and Discovery from the University of Queensland.  LinkedIn Profile.


Dr Uma Adash - Grant Thornton

Uma is a senior manager specialising in advising companies on R&D tax incentive.  As someone with a degree in science and years of experience in R&D tax, I can read both chemical composition charts and profit and loss statements.

Having moved from Russia 22 years ago, I went to the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand and graduated with a PhD in physical chemistry.  After working at Orica as a R&D chemist, I went into the professional services field by joining a R&D tax advisory practice at a Big 4 accounting firm. 10 years later I am continuing to work in this field.  LinkedIn Profile.


Dr Yogesh Makanji – Monash University

Dr Yogesh Makanji joined Hudson Institute of Medical Research in November 2014. Prior to this appointment, Dr Makanji most recently held the position of Visiting Research Scholar at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA.

After finishing his Honours degree in inhibin biology at RMIT University in 2002, Dr Makanji completed his PhD titled ‘The biological characterisation of inhibin A and inhibin B’ at Monash University in 2009. In 2010, Dr Makanji received an NHMRC CJ Martin Fellowship and joined Professor Teresa Woodruff’s Oncofertility Consortium Laboratory at Northwestern University, USA, 2011-2013. During his overseas fellowship, Dr Makanji gained expertise in three-dimensional ex vivo ovarian culture systems. In addition, he developed systems to study the role of oxygen tension and related carbohydrate metabolism.

Dr Makanji is a global member of the Oncofertility Consortium, editorial board member of Repropedia, a reproductive lexicon, and serves on the US Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting Steering Committee.In 2017, Dr Makanji set up his consulting business to provide solutions in the research, education and med-tech sector. Dr Makanji is currently working with Ansh Labs LLC (Webster, Tx) and YHLO Biotech (Shenzhen, China).  LinkedIn Profile.


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