How many careers in a lifetime?
It’s early days for Sandeep Sarathy (BChemEng(Hons), PhD), but he has already had a few. I remember being told at school that people my age will no longer have the same career for life, he shares. I’ve had four different roles in 12 years!
Sandeep started out specialising in plastic recycling – his PhD thesis explored the conversion of waste plastics into liquid fuels. Once he’d recognised that innovation depends on strong connections between science, business and government, Sandeep gravitated to commercialisation, where he could help translate knowledge gained through research into policies and practice. And that then led him to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria.
Sandeep’s first role at the EPA was in research management. We commissioned specific research projects from universities (including Monash) and consultants to inform EPA policies, he explains. This job was a natural progression from research translation.
From there Sandeep moved into his current role managing the quality of EPA regulatory functions. This is quite a deviation from my job history, but I still use a lot of the skills acquired previously, such as synthesising and analysing data, drawing conclusions, and making adjustments to reach our goals, he says.
Passionate about the environment, Sandeep keeps a keen eye on renewable energy. Growing up in India my parents could not afford to have a phone in their house, but just a generation later almost every middle-class Indian has their own mobile phone. I wish this would happen with renewables, he shares. Here we now still rely on centralized fossil fuel-based systems, but I believe countries like India, China and those in Africa can leapfrog this and go straight to distributed renewable energy.
That, of course, requires flexibility. As does moving from job to job. The world is rapidly changing, and Sandeep understands that we must be prepared to adapt and play new roles. Here’s his secret: The most important skill is not WHAT you learn, but learning HOW to learn. Master that and your career choices could be endless.