In a recent NZ Herald article title ‘Biotech breeds possibility : Kiwis are making their mark on the bio-economy’ – highlights successful careers in biotechnology.

Biotechnology is the technology for the 21st century, says Michelle Sullivan, chief executive of the NZBio industry association. “It touches our lives on a daily basis – the fact you can wash your clothes in cold water thanks to some enzymes in washing powder that function in cold water and chew up grease and fat.” Michelle is passionate about how biotechnology is a great way to add value not only to our primary economy in terms of trees, cows, beef, wool and dairy, but it’s a way to help create a high-wage economy in New Zealand.

Michelle’s career has taken her around the world. She has a PhD in protein biochemistry and has worked in Auckland, London and New York – at times with major multinational corporations, international biotechnology companies and venture capital funds, to attract investment into NZ. She has worked at the Health Research Council to devise initiatives to address a range of human health and environmental issues, and more recently has worked within the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s investment team. She has also worked as a scientist, identifying potential drug targets for the fungal infection Candida albicans (thrush), an environmental consultant, and has taught environmental engineering at Manukau Institute of Technology.

She says that most people come to biotechnology with a tertiary qualification in disciplines such as biochemistry, pharmacology, plant biology, physiology and engineering. Some have backgrounds in medicine, veterinary, agricultural or environmental science. But it is not all white-coat lab work. Biotech breeds possibility work. Some is applied and out in the field, and includes working with industry, managing clinical trials and so on. “And to commercialise you also need business-development people who understand the market and finance.”

Related career opportunities: Intellectual property and patent protection are other areas where science and law make a useful career combination; export-market development is also a specialised area.

Read the complete NZ Herald article: Biotech Breed Possibility

More exciting graduate profiles available on the latest issue of Career View on Biotechnology.

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