In pursuit of not just any engineering career
Inception, development and commercialisation of medical devices. Therein lies the passion of Andre Tan (BEng – Electrical & Computer Systems (Hons) 2009, BSc 2009, PhD). The passion that has propelled his career.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have contributed to the growth of a variety of medical technology companies, from early-stage product R&D through to business development and adoption by the healthcare and life science markets,” says Andre.
Now Business Development Manager of Medical Devices and Diagnostics at IQVIA (aka “The Human Data Science Company”), Andre plays a pivotal role in leveraging data and analytics to gain commercial insights, and in facilitating clinical trials for medical device companies.
“I engage with potential clients to identify what they need, and then map our services to meet their requirements,” he explains. “I also work with internal teams globally to market what we offer within the life science and healthcare industries.”
So where does Andre’s engineering background fit in?
“Although I’ve never been an engineer in a traditional, chartered sense, my work requires a solid understanding of engineering principles as they pertain to human physiology and patient safety,” he explains. “I’ve also had to develop broad knowledge of different healthcare therapeutic areas, medical device regulatory requirements and clinical trial frameworks, and learn how medical device companies can cost-effectively improve health outcomes – the learning never stops.”
After completing his PhD, Andre made the transition from academia to industry – he chose to do this by joining various medical device startups. “Inevitably startups fail, and I found myself underemployed for nine months after a company I’d worked for shut down,” he shares. A challenging time, but it taught Andre how to survive.
“Networking is critical to building a career. Since graduating, I’ve had only one formal career-related interview,” recounts Andre. “Most of my roles and opportunities have come about through my connections and making use of them at just the right time.”
Over the years, Andre has done a great deal of volunteering. “I’m driven to pass on my knowledge to those around me,” he reveals. “Especially with individuals who share my interests, but who may not know how to navigate the challenges they encounter.”
At BioQuisitive, Andre provided strategic, risk and project management advice to a “DIYBio” not-for-profit citizen science initiative. He also served as a research mentor at the Swinburne Design Factory Industry Innovation Project. And, in advocating for innovation in Australia, he was a founding member of the Australian Science and Innovation Forum.
“I’ve mentored younger postgraduate engineers and scientists who hope to transition to nonacademic roles,” notes Andre. “They’re curious to hear my story, and to learn about the realities of this process that other professionals may not openly discuss.”
Looking at the big picture, Andre remarks, “One of the most exciting developments of the last decade has been our ability to sequence entire genomes – that is, complete sets of genes. Greater precision and reduced cost have opened the doors to new diagnostic and therapeutic capabilities, and a move towards more personalised medicine.”
In a field so full of potential, Andre’s career could take him almost anywhere.