I am delighted to see that activity within the Digital Health CRC continues to gain momentum!

Many participants are involved in discussing projects with us and other DHCRC participants, and we are starting to develop a pipeline of activity across each of our Flagships. This has been building since the release of our Research Education & Investment Framework and associated Funding Guidelines.

Building our team

We are also in the process of expanding our team so we can generate more project activity in the coming months and years. Our recent advertisements for several positions – Flagship Research & Education Director(s), Research Manager and Program Manager(s) – were well received, with many applications and EOIs. I am hoping from this to bring on several new faces to work with you and get you more involved in DHCRC shortly.

To this end, I would like to introduce Dr Melanie Haines who joined us as our Education Manager last month. We have an article on Melanie’s background below. Her first task will be to build our education program – timely given the imminent kick-off of project activities and the engagement of our first PhD students.

In developing the program, Melanie will be engaging widely with our participants, specifically to seek views on how we want the program to run and, probably most importantly, what sort of graduates we want to produce.

An Industry PhD – a positive experience for me

If you don’t know much of my background, I am the product of an industry-based PhD program – one of the very early ones in Australia, when it was relatively unheard of. I did lots of homework and thinking before deciding to go ahead with my PhD.

To me, it was a major advantage that the program was industry-based – I did not want to be an academic, so it seemed to offer the best of both worlds, particularly back then when there was a much bigger stigma associated with doing a PhD. You were pretty much limited to a university job and I knew that wasn’t for me!

During my PhD, I spent the majority of my time with my industry sponsor – I got involved in their business, I ran projects for them, I implemented new systems, I worked shift work alongside my workmates, I attended team meetings, I got involved in the workplace community and I really enjoyed myself.

Importantly, I also learnt lots – not just about research, the process of doing it and my PhD topic, but also about how organisations work, how to work in a team, and how to communicate with a diverse range of people – and I became part of the place.

I was offered several opportunities to stay on following completion of my PhD and I did so, albeit with one of their subsidiaries in the UK. Looking back, almost all of my industry-based PhD cohort went on to work in industry and all are still doing so. I firmly believe an industry-based PhD offers a fantastic base from which to build a career.

Future career pathways for our Industry PhD graduates

It was timely last week to see several articles in The Australian talking about digital disruption across several industries and how this is being driven by the employment of PhD graduates.

One referred to a recent study1 that found nearly half of all PhD graduates in Australia are employed in business, government or the not-for-profit sector. They are working in areas like software development and digital transformation, particularly in industries like banking, finance, resources, medical and pharmaceutical. There was also a clear reference made to additional training for students to make them more attractive to employers. This will be a key part of our education program.

Another article examined the current exponential growth in demand for professionals skilled in data systems and analytics. Salaries and job prospects are at an all-time high, with employers specifically looking for candidates who have postgraduate qualifications.

This all bodes well for DHCRC which is committed to producing a large cohort of postgraduate students with an intimate mix of health, data systems and analytics – and who will mostly be working in our industry when they graduate. As the volume of data and information available, particularly in health, continues to grow massively, our graduates will be a much-needed and welcome injection of talent and capability into the industry. Our education program will make this a reality.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time.

Dr Victor Pantano
CEO, Digital Health CRC

[email protected]