Director, Business Development for Mitacs
I was born/grew up in: I was born and raised in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. I left at the age of 18 to attend the University of Alberta in Edmonton after high school.
I now live in: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
I completed my training/education at: I completed high school at Fort McMurray Composite High School. I then completed my Bachelors of Science at the University of Alberta. My final, formal degree was a PhD from the University of Alberta, Department of Surgery (but I'm not a surgeon).
Describe what you do at work.
My job at Mitacs is helping to build connections between companies and universities so they can work together on projects. When these partnerships are formed, they can use programs that Mitacs has created to help pay for the joint research that will happen. These research projects generate new products, inventions, procedures and processes for companies. This helps grow their business here in Canada and keep them competitive around the world.
These partnerships also allow graduate student researchers to work on company projects. And this will hopefully help them build relationships with future employers.
Mitacs does this work across all across Canada. I work closely with my colleagues in other cities to find companies and match them with research expertise at Canadian universities. This allows us to help companies find the best people to work on their projects.
My education in STEM allows me to better relate to businesses that have a scientific challenge or question to overcome. In need to understand the problem because this lets me match the problem to potential researchers who can help solve the problem. I need to be able to speak the language of science if I want to communicate and connect the two worlds (industry and academics) together.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
I love what I do because I get a chance to help grow companies here in Canada. This produces jobs for future generations! I also get to work with companies who are pushing the boundaries of innovation and invention. This helps keep Canada competitive in the world. It also helps make this country a desired place to live and work. Graduate students also get a chance to build a network and find jobs after they graduate. In the past, without our help, many graduate students had to leave Canada to find jobs.
What motivates you in your career?
What keeps me motivated and excited is that every day is a new day with something else exciting to learn! Every research project I help put together and every company I meet is doing something exciting that could help change the world. Being in a job where I can see the changes coming and being part of the research project that gets us there is very exciting.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
Out of high school I wanted to get my PhD without fully knowing what I wanted to do with that PhD. I feel very lucky to have found this job at Mitacs where I get to put my PhD to work. My PhD background helps me relate to other researchers and scientists in universities and companies.
Education and a bit of luck is what got me here today. By being open to learning new things and working on my social skills, I opened the door to become a business developer.
To be a business developer for Mitacs, you have to be able to speak and understand scientific language. At the same time, you have to be sociable and relatable to people from different backgrounds. You have to be able to see possible connections between different people. Then you have to be willing to play matchmaker to get them to work together.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I love going to the mountains and hiking with my family. I am also a Chinese lion dancer for fun, performing at many cultural and celebration type events around Edmonton. Being a lion dancer requires a lot of physical stamina and strength, which helps keep me in shape!
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Be open to learning everything around you. Try to understand other peoples' histories and challenges. When you can understand and relate to different people and scenarios, you will start seeing connections between things. You can then start building partnerships between people who may never have talked to one another before.