“Women just starting out need to know that majority of us don’t know exactly where we want to end up. It is absolutely more than okay to try and fail a million times, as long as you’re still moving forward and still trying. Trust yourself and think about what you want your future to look like”
Dr Stephanie Lamont-Friedrich is the Senior Advisor in the Accelerating Business Growth team at KPMG Australia. Prior to this, she was the South Australian Head of Life Sciences/Commercial Biotech for Deloitte Australia. Steph worked in the R&D Tax Incentive and Global investment and innovation incentives team (Gi3).
Dr Lamont-Friedrich completed a Double Bachelor’s Degree in Medical Science and Business and Technology, an Honour’s Degree in Bio- and Nanomaterials, followed by a PhD in Biomaterials, Engineering and Nanomedicine at the University of South Australia (UniSA). Steph has a deep passion and interest for gender equity in STEMM fields and for supporting gender equity and women in STEMM fields. She says, “I was fortunate enough to be a part of the founding Executive Committee for the UniSA’s Women in STEM Club and served as Secretary and Event Manager for a year. I continue to be active in this area and am still an Executive Committee Member”.
During her time on the Executive Committee, Dr Lamont-Friedrich was able to be a part of some important events that supported not just women in STEMM roles, but women in general in the community, including the Be Bold at Breakfast event at MOD. As Event Manager, she organised UniSA’s first International Women’s Day event in 2018, and organised multiple networking events across the year, supporting gender equity and promoting women in STEMM fields that are still primarily male-dominated. Outside of UniSA’s Women in STEM Club, Steph also organises and runs a booth at Science Alive! every year, where she promotes careers in STEMM as well as women in STEMM. Over 25,000 children and their parents visit Science Alive! over a three day period, giving a perfect platform to engage young girls and boys in fun STEMM activities, and tell them all about life as a Scientist!
Dr Lamont-Friedrich was also selected as an industry mentee with IMNIS – the Industry Mentoring Network in STEM with the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. She then went on to be a UniSA Mentor as well as supervisor to her first student – a young woman from Brazil studying STEMM. For over five years, Steph has also been on the committees of several other professional scientific groups, including the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Australasian Society for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering (ASBTE). She has also been head of the Social Organising Committee for a National Conference for the ASM, as well as organising multiple student engagement and networking nights for both the ASM and the ASBTE.
What has been the biggest barrier you have faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
During my PhD I had been feeling that staying in Academia wasn’t the right path for me. I was concerned that the skills acquired during my PhD would never be applicable to anything outside of my specific field. I successfully transitioned out of Academia and into Corporate, accepting a full-time position at Deloitte Australia. During my interviews, I communicated how the skills I developed during my PhD could be translated to a Corporate environment. I found this extremely challenging at first, as I found a clear divide between Academia and Corporate/Industry still existed. I learned very quickly, through conversations with my Mentors, the best way to communicate my skill set, and this was a critical skill to learn and take with me into a corporate career.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to women just starting their careers in STEMM?
One of the key pieces of advice that I always give women just starting their careers in STEMM is to keep their options open. Throughout my study, I never knew where my career path might end up. I started to realise my strengths and my passions, but I still could not articulate exactly the type of career that I wanted. If anything, the only thing I knew was what I didn’t want! Women just starting out need to know that majority of us don’t know exactly where we want to end up. It is absolutely more than okay to try and fail a million times, as long as you’re still moving forward and still trying. Trust yourself and think about what you want your future to look like.
Do you have a mentor(s)? How have they supported you?
I have been fortunate enough to have the most amazing mentors throughout my life. I took part in the Industry Mentoring Networking in STEM (IMNIS) as a Mentee and I was paired with a fantastic mentor. I will never forget how she told me to ‘build my brand’, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. I had already been using LinkedIn but she explained to me how I could best use it to represent who I am. My mentor also helped me through writing a CV for a Corporate position, and how this differed significantly from one required for a career in Academia. We are still great friends to this day and she is still my go-to for advice!
Have you transitioned across professional sectors? What skills could be applied to all of these roles?
After completing my PhD, I made the successful move out of academia into the corporate sector. It was critical during my Interviews that I was able to explain how my PhD skills were transferable to a career in corporate. Completing a PhD taught me how to be highly organised, persistent and methodical. I have high level written and oral communication skills, and have presented my work on a national and global scale. I can work on my own as well as within a multidisciplinary team. I quickly developed problem-solving and troubleshooting skills, enabling me to navigate through hurdles encountered in my project.
What do you love most about your professional role in STEMM?
My corporate roles have been incredibly exciting and constantly evolving. I can still be a part of science, new and exciting science, but from a business perspective. I am able to assist researchers, like I used to be, to access grants that could further fund their fantastic research for the next few years. I feel extremely privileged to be able to still use my skills, identify as a scientist and be able to analyse and understand science from a business perspective. By helping researchers, I’m in a position to positively influence and support the fantastic science and research being undertaken in South Australia and Australia.
LinkedIn: Dr Stephanie Lamont-Friedrich