AQ: Australian Quarterly

Curiosity, Passion and Life-Long Learning Catalysts of Victoria’s Future Prosperity

It all started in the final year of my PhD when I saw a job advertisement for a clinical research associate with the local subsidiary of an international pharmaceutical company. I decided that the expected early-career research path was not for me and this turned out to be my ‘eureka moment’. I won the role, was handed a copy of the Australian National Drug Formulary (NDF4) and told ‘this is yours to own and manage – get going’.

That started a 12-year career in the pharmaceutical industry seeking out or accepting opportunities as they presented themselves. This path ultimately brought me to public administration 15 years ago, as the Victorian Government’s inaugural Director of Biotechnology, at a time where both state and federal governments began to increase their commitment to science and innovation policy as part of a broader economic agenda.

I tell this story to make the point that curiosity, passion, and a willingness to back yourself to learn new skills and knowledge is a potent mix that can take you almost anywhere. It is heartening to see such personal attributes being talked about in a more open way nowadays, typically in the context of programs to support entrepreneurship.

Future industries to transition the economy

However, entrepreneurship is just one string to our bow in transforming the Victorian and Australian economy – making science and innovation mainstream is unfinished business, and my ultimate goal as Victoria’s new Lead Scientist. This means

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