The path to success in research science is not always easily defined. But for lifelong learner Sam Keenan – ARMI PhD student and mentee in the CCRM Australia IMNIS Regenerative Medicine International Mentoring Program – learning from others has played a key role in his career development.
Sam has been a mentee under several programs, and values the opportunity to get personalised advice, see what fits and apply it to his own situation.
As part of the IMNIS mentoring program, Sam was matched with Jonathan Fitzgerald, Vice President of Program Management at Torque Therapeutics. They had monthly video chats, but for Sam the highlight of the program was meeting Jonathan in person and experiencing the Boston Biotech hub first-hand.
“Connecting online is great, but some things you just need to see for yourself,” Sam explained. “Jonathan organised a schedule which included being shown around six regenerative medicine and biotech companies. It was an amazing experience.”
“His questions helped me clarify and consolidate what I’ve learned on my own journey and reminded me of the joy of discovery and experimentation – which is why I went into science in the first place.”
Like all good mentoring relationships, Jonathan benefited from engaging with Sam. Seeing what a PhD student can bring to the workplace is an eye-opener for industry mentors.
“His questions helped me clarify and consolidate what I’ve learned on my own journey and reminded me of the joy of discovery and experimentation – which is why I went into science in the first place,” said Jonathan. “He made me realise how much I take for granted. And I’ve made new connections close to home after taking him on the biotech tour.”
“Creating productive academia-industry collaborations is beneficial for all concerned,” remarked Jonathan. “There are so many paths a research career can take, and you can’t explore them all by yourself. Engaging with a mentor can help you ask the right questions and unlock opportunities you may not have on your own.”
Part of the appeal of the CCRM Australia IMNIS Mentoring Program for Sam was the chance to travel overseas for a face to face meeting with his mentor.
“Australia is relatively new to industry science and commercialisation, so it’s crucial we make strong connections with more established global centres,” Sam commented.
With a history of positive mentoring relationships, Sam is an advocate for getting involved in industry mentoring programs to support the future of regenerative medicine.
“Everyone’s path is unique, and subject to a lot of hard work and luck. Learning from a mentor can point you towards success.”
“Everyone’s path is unique, and subject to a lot of hard work and luck. Learning from a mentor can point you towards success,” said Sam. “I’d recommend any committed PhD student looking for a career in academia or industry seek out mentoring opportunities.”