- Student type: Domestic
- Degree type: PhD
- Degree(s): Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
Dr Richard Huysmans completed his PhD in 2005 with the School of Biomedical Sciences and is now the owner & principal of Dr Richard Huysmans P/L.
How has your Monash degree helped you succeed in your career? How have you been able to apply your skills in your current position?
My Undergraduate and Honours degrees prepared me for my PhD. Both provided technical and theoretical knowledge as well as self-belief, which are all necessary to successfully complete a PhD.
Having an "altac" (alternate academic) career, means much of the technical skills I learned and honed in my PhD aren't directly relevant to my work today. However, the experience itself has been essential. It developed common transferable skills such as project management, self-management, technical writing, oral presentation, evaluating evidence and networking. Those skills, combined with the lived experience of PhD/academic research has allowed me to work hand-in-glove with PhD students and graduates to build better careers beyond their PhD both within academia or elsewhere.
What do you most enjoy about your current job?
Helping people to see that the skills and experiences they have are sufficient to land their next job, to complete their current project or to write their next grant. Helping people to become more self-aware and confident in their own abilities.
What has been your biggest challenge, and how did you overcome it?Poor mind health has been (and continues to be) my biggest challenge since my separation and divorce in 2017. This can lead to apathy and lethargy, making it difficult to engage with current or potential clients, and to make meaningful progress with my work. Overcoming this challenge is often a daily and weekly task - I see several health professionals, use medication, as well as practice mindfulness. I am also physically active and eat a healthy diet. All these strategies help to support a healthier mindset.
My other biggest challenge was financial management. I was not bad at managing money, but I had never had to manage my income as well as financial reporting which is required for a business. To overcome this, I sought professional help and now have a bookkeeper and an accountant. I also engaged a coach who helped me set up a useful flow and categorisation of personal and work funds to improve my financial management.
What advice would you give current PhD graduates?
1. Be earning or learning. Both of those things will help you make progress in your career. As PhD students we can assume (wrongly) that earning needs to be in our ideal field or that learning needs to be something that gives us a certificate at the end. You need to remember that any job is experience. Even if you don't like it, you are learning what you like and dislike. And, you are also learning how to do that job. Even if it is customer service or fast food delivery. All work is valuable.
2. You have plenty of time. We focus so much on getting our "ideal" job, straight away, right out of school, university, or after completing our PhD, as if we don't have time to build skills, gain experiences, try things, and fail. If you've gone to school, then university and straight onto your PhD, you're probably about 25 years old. If you work until 70 or 75 that means you have another two "lifetimes" ahead of you - enough time to do another course, find a different job and get experience.