The many places transferable skills might lead
The career path of Katherine Dean (BSc(Hons) 1997, BE 1997, PhD 2002) has taken some twists and turns. In the sixteen years since leaving Monash, she has climbed her way up to senior management at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and leapt across to director ownership of Miglic Dean, a commercial property agency.
But back to the beginning.
Deeply influenced by her upbringing, Katherine shares, “I’d always had a strong interest in science and engineering. My dad was a chemist at CSIRO many years ago and had fostered in me a desire to understand the world we live in.” No surprise she ended up doing this particular double degree.
After obtaining a PhD in Materials Engineering, Katherine accepted a postdoctoral research fellowship at CSIRO. (Like father, like daughter.) From there one thing led to another. “I was involved in an amazing array of projects, including lightening-strike protection for aircraft, light-curable medical stents, biodegradable replacement for polystyrene, and 3D printing resins,” she says. “I published over 100 research papers and patents in the process.”
Four years later, Katherine had become one of CSIRO’s senior leaders of research and business development across a diverse portfolio within manufacturing, construction, materials and engineering. “This gave me the opportunity to engage with industry both here and overseas, and to really be part of the business of R&D,” she adds.
As a Senior Manager, Katherine gained project management, contract negotiation and business skills that she could apply to almost any field. These skills, combined with her knack for building renovation (as a student, she’d managed to negotiate a free summer rental in exchange for renovating the property!), gave her the confidence to start her own business in 2014.
“Miglic Dean specialises in commercial property sales, leasing and property management. In my first year, I sold an amazing 1600-square-metre development site in West Melbourne and the business has just grown from there,” she reveals. “Every day I engage with businesses of all shapes and sizes, from start-ups to multinationals. I’m always amazed by the innovative nature of human beings.”
In growing her business, Katherine would like to contribute to the advancement of sustainable buildings and communities. “Battery and solar technologies can have a big impact on the lives of people across the globe,” she contends. “I hope to see these technologies become more efficient, affordable and truly integrated into new developments and building infrastructure.”
Underlying everything Katherine has ever done is her belief that “Engineering is such a great foundation no matter where your career may take you.”