veski kickstart networking


The focus of the veski kickstart on Friday, 24 March 2017 was 'Insights from academia to industry– supporting students on the move' with speakers and panelists from a range of industries.

During the veski kickstart session students networked with industry representatives across: Big Pharma, Medical Technologies & Devices, Engineering, Government Policy, Professional Services, IT and the Environment.




Dr Jordan Thurgood - Monash University

Jordan has a background in mechanical engineering and upon completing his Bachelor’s Degree he undertook a PhD in the area of diagnostic medical imaging. During his PhD Jordan was an inventor on numerous patent applications and, driven by a strong interest in business and commercialisation, completed a Graduate Certificate in Commercialising Research. Jordan then went on to co-founded a start-up company that was working on innovative imaging based solutions for the assessment of lung health. After a successful exit from the company in 2015, Jordan moved to Monash University to provide assistance in the commercialisation of other technologies from the Faculty of Engineering and IT.

Ms Grace Lethlean - ANDHealth

Grace Lethlean is Program Director at ANDHealth, Australia’s national digital health commercialisation initiative. Grace Lethlean has a proven track record in project management, clinical validation and commercialisation within both the medtech and digital health sector. She has previously held roles in the Project Management team at CSL Group and has been involved in the creation of multiple medtech businesses in her role as Business Development Manager of technology commercialisation firm Grey Innovation. Grace is a co-inventor on a now ASX listed digital health technology developed with Monash University to assist children with attentional disorders such as autism. She has been actively involved in the development of health technologies from invention, through clinical trials, to commercialisation. With degrees in both Chemical Engineering and Immunology from the University of Melbourne, Grace is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at Monash University, a reviewer on the NHMRC Development granting panel and sits on the Victorian Government Advanced Manufacturing Council.

Mr Mark Cassar  - Start-up founder

Mr Mark Cassar has had executive roles spanning the Information Technology and Finance sectors for over 25 years. In 2004 he founded a technology start-up which was to become Bluedoor Technologies in 2005. Its flagship product was the first of its kind to fully integrate Imaging, Intelligent Character Recognition, Workflow, Reporting with Wealth Management administration. It was also the first system to provide a fully online transactional capability to the Wealth Management market in Australia. In 2015 Bluedoor employed over 600 staff in Melbourne, Hyderabad and the UK which continue product development and support its multi-national financial services clients.





Ms Jo Cuttler - CH2M

Jo Cuttler graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science, Honours degree. She co-majored in Chemistry and Biochemistry and her honours research was in organic chemistry. Jo commenced her career as a research and development chemist with Mobil Oil Australia, developing environmentally friendly products.

Her career spans 14 years in the petrochemical industry and 10 years in consulting (primarily in environmental and remediation services). Jo is currently CH2M’s Regional Business Group Manager for its environmental and nuclear services business. In this executive role, Jo manages business performance, key client relationships, provides technical direction and she manages a talented team of engineers and scientists nationally. Jo has enjoyed a varied technical career, stemming from her passion and lifelong interest in science.

Prof Andrew Maas - CENTRE-TBI

Professor Andrew Maas is a general neurosurgeon who has dedicated his career to improving knowledge and treatments of Traumatic Brain Injury and neuro-intensive care.

Professor Maas is the Project Coordinator of the Collaborative European NeuroTrauma Effectiveness Research in TBI.  Known as CENTER-TBI, it is a collaboration of 44 scientific institutes across Europe, North America, New Zealand, China and Australia, and includes an observational study in 68 sites from 20 European countries and Israel.  Professor Maas is the intermediary between the European Commission and the Consortium with responsibility for all scientific activities of the consortium.

The CENTER-TBI aims to deliver profound impacts in precision medicine and personalized management, health care policy, improved cost-effectiveness, and most importantly, improved health, quality of life and social integration for traumatic brain injury patients.  

Maas is professor of Neuorsurgery at the University of Antwerp, Co-Chairs the European Brain Injury Consortium and is Chairman of the Neurotraumatology Committee of the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies.  

Professor Maas is visiting Australia as the guest of veski, Monash University and the University of Melbourne.

Dr Hannah Kirk - Novita Healthcare Ltd.

Dr Kirk is a developmental neuroscientist who completed her PhD at Monash University in the Institute of Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences.  Her research focuses on understanding and improving cognitive, behavioural and academic skills in children with and without neurodevelopmental disorders. 

Dr Kirk has published 10 peer-reviewed articles, presented at both national and international conferences and been the recipient of several awards. She is the inventor of TALI TrainTM; a touchscreen game-based early intervention proven to improve attention and numeracy in young children. TALI TrainTM was one of five finalists in the 2015 Australian Innovation Challenge, received a special commendation in the 2016 BHERT Awards, featured on the Channel 9 news and was presented to Malcolm Turnbull as a leading example of successful research and industry collaboration.

In 2016 Dr Kirk took up the role of Chief Scientific Officer at public listed medical technology company Novita Healthcare. In this role she manages the research and development of the TALI TrainTM program and associated technologies with the aim of optimising the outcomes of children worldwide.



Industry leaders

Mr Larry Howard - BlueScope 

Larry Howard is an Information Technology Executive, currently the Chief Information Officer - BANZ at BlueScope.  Larry’s background spans engagements with BHP, CGU Insurance, IBM, IAG and Origin Energy.  He is acknowledged for strengths in driving organisational change and executing growth-positioning strategies. Larry has more than two decades experience steering strategy and visionary technology plans for national and global entities, has honed strengths in providing solutions, uniting teams and delivering results. Seamless and evolutionary organisational change, heightened customer satisfaction and improved client/vendor relationships have become performance trademarks of an accomplishment-filled career.

Dr Sonal Josan - Siemens

Dr Sonal Josan is a Senior Scientist at Siemens Healthcare working in the field of medical imaging. Sonal did her PhD in engineering and postdoctoral work in radiology at Stanford University, with a research focus in development of novel and advanced techniques for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

She began her career with Siemens 3 years ago, switching from academia to industry and moving from San Francisco to Melbourne, and is part of an R&D team here that works with research and clinical users on cutting edge developments and new applications for MRI.

As part of this role, she enjoys being at the interface between research and industry, learning about different perspectives on clinical needs and exploring ideas and opportunities for future development to improve patient healthcare.

Ms Sophie Krantz - BlueScope

Sophie is currently the International Trade Strategy Manager at BlueScope, having joined the company in mid-2014 upon returning to Australia after ten years based in Europe. With academic qualifications in economics and an MBA, Sophie has a professional background in internationalisation and developing trade and investment strategies for growth in foreign markets.  She has gained trade and investment experience internationally in both the public and private sectors, including at the International Trade Centre in Geneva (the joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization), Swiss Re in Zurich, and BlueScope in Australia.  

Dr Brenda Lee - EY

Brenda is a Director in the R&D Tax and Incentive Team at EY; as a service provider helps client with their funding needs with respect to their R&D activities. She has over 17 years’ experience in working in Big 4 firms in both Australia and the UK.

Originally, she completed a PhD from the Faculty of Medicine, Monash University Melbourne. Working in this area has allowed her to continue to utilise her science background but also help businesses from a commercial perspective.

Given her background, she specialises in Pharmaceutical and Life Science sector. She also works with clients of other industries, including food, beverage, consumer products, oil & gas, construction, energy, utilities, mining, nuclear energy and aerospace & defence.


Dr Phil Marley - Victorian Government

I arrived in Melbourne in Feb 1983 for a two-year postdoctoral research position and have been here ever since. For the last 11 years, I have held roles in the Victorian Government’s economic development department, firstly managing programs supporting health and medical research and more recently assisting the growth of Victorian medical technologies and pharmaceuticals companies. During 2015-16, I spent 14 months outside government, as the Government Liaison and Strategy Manager with the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre Ltd – a non-profit, joint venture company. Before moving into government, I was a medical research scientist in academia, supported through the NHMRC career fellowship program for 20 years at the University of Melbourne. 

Mr Paul McDonald - Pfizer

Paul McDonald has over 20 years of experience in the Global Pharmaceutical Industry and is currently the Director of R&D for Pfizer Melbourne.  He studied Chemical Science at Deakin University (Geelong, Australia).

Paul began his career in the mid 1990’s, commencing with the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturer, Melford Laboratories Suffolk, United Kingdom specializing in fluorinated aromatic small volume high value API, then 4 years at Sigma Australia in the laboratories before joining the Mulgrave site as Mayne Pharma in 2001.  Active roles in Research and Development, Product Development and leadership roles in Process Validation, Technology Transfer, Contract Manufacturing and Business Development paved the way for the current role leading Melbourne’s Pfizer Essential Health R&D group. 

Dr Jane Ryan – Sementis

Dr Jane Ryan has many years of international experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries where she has managed research and development programs and held key roles in business development and alliance management. She is currently CEO-elect of Sementis.

Previously at Biota she held numerous roles; most recently as Vice President, Product Development & Strategic Marketing, Jane oversaw the development of products for the treatment and prevention of rhinovirus-induced asthma exacerbations, influenza infection, bronchiolitis, Alzheimer’s disease, oncology and diabetes. 

Overseas, Dr Ryan has worked at Roche and Columbia University in the US and with Peptech and Cambridge Antibody Technology in the UK. Upon returning to Australia, she worked with Peptech before joining Biota Holdings Ltd with senior roles in research and development, commercialisation, business development and alliance management. 

Throughout her career, she has led many successful fundraising campaigns including the awarding of a US Government contract for $230m to develop a treatment for influenza. Jane was appointed to the veski board in 2013. She is also a member of the boards of Diabetes Australia - Victoria and BioSA and was formerly a board member of the Diabetes Vaccine Development Centre.

Dr Mike Shackleton - ARRB

Mike Shackleton trained as a Civil Engineer and has 30 years' experience in the sector.  He started his career as researcher in an applied research and consulting environment, specialising in applied research in road infrastructure design, material performance and asset management. To broaden his experience, he moved to a consulting engineering firm where he expanded his technical areas to strategic planning, network management systems and quality management.  Part of this time involved working directly for a provincial road authority.

Upon re-entering industry research at the Australian Road Research Board, he continued his applied research, but also became involved in research program management and in human resource development.  During this time he read for and completed a PhD at Monash University part-time .  His doctoral research investigated the value proposition which the public sector ascribe to the road infrastructure research they commission.  He is currently responsible for human resource development, university relationships and research program planning.

Mrs Sian Slade - Bristol-Myers Squibb

Mrs Siân Slade is a dynamic innovator and problem solver, with a key focus on quality use of medicines and a passionate interest in data connectivity to enable and expedite more impactful outcomes for patients.  A pharmacist by background, Siân has an MBA from Imperial College (London) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Siân has worked internationally with a variety of roles of increasing seniority at market, regional and global levels including roles in Europe, Asia Pacific, US and the Intercontinental region.  

Siân’s experience spans clinical development, medical affairs, sales, marketing and human resources and has included working in fast-moving therapeutic arenas of HIV, HCV and Oncology, leading Marketing Excellence for Europe Middle East & Africa as well as more recently leading global capabilities for knowledge management & content development within Bristol-Myers Squibb. 

Ms Julie Stevens - Monash University

Julie Stevens is an agent for social change. She has worked in entrepreneurship development across various initiatives since 2002. She has gained extensive experience in developing, managing and scaling programs designed to foster and promote entrepreneurship.

For 5 years she worked with a global Investment Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility team to develop a cluster model based on co-located services aimed at supporting start-ups from ideation through to launch. The initiative’s success was achieved through strategically aligned public-private sector partnership including corporate, local government and tertiary institutions.  

In 2013 she earned a Masters in Journalism from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa with a focus on new media technologies and entrepreneurship. Julie joined Monash University’s The GENERATOR as Program Manager in January 2017 to implement strategies to extend the programs reach and impact.


Ms Laura Wilson - veski

Laura is a recent BSc Advanced Research Honours graduate from Monash University, majoring in Zoology during her undergraduate degree and transitioning into a science education focus for her honours year. Following her graduation, Laura has become involved in the education management space through an internship with the STEM education start-up BrainSTEM and ad-hoc involvement with event management at veski.  Laura is now working at Monash University as a Project Officer in the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) office of Monash’s office of Learning and Teaching where she is assisting in the development of a new scalable framework for integrating WIL experiences into undergraduate units through industry projects.  Laura is passionate about strengthening the Australian workforce through diversification and creating more opportunities for students from a variety of backgrounds (including students from lower SES areas, various cultural background and engaging more young women in STEM).  

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