Let’s start with your professional background:
I studied engineering and I have a PhD in analytical chemistry. After graduating I worked for L’Oreal as a scout for innovation, and eventually became their Partnership Director and the Director for Sustainable Development.
I worked there for nearly 10 years and it’s where I developed my expertise in negotiations, partnerships, agreements, IP and working with researchers. Within L’Oreal, there are 500 PhD’s working in research worldwide, so it was like working for a small university. It was very interesting.
What did you do after L’Oreal?
After that I decided to move to the other side of the fence and moved into academia. I was the CEO for a foundation of research, so I was building research chairs and finding funding from private organizations to help move science and innovation forward for a company. I did that for five years and on the side, I created my own consulting company to do organizational improvements, especially for research and innovation. I did consulting for a number of large companies, looking at all the ways they could improve their research processes to optimize innovation.
And then what brought you to Moncton?
Three years ago, my family and I decided to move to Canada. And because I had made contacts through my work already, I heard there were positions open with Mitacs in New Brunswick, so I started with them in 2017. Since my office was already located within L'Université de Moncton (UdeM) as a Mitacs representative, I was already connected to all the people from its innovation support office as well as its professors, so when [UdeM’s] director left, I took the chance and applied.
What do you enjoy about working for UdeM so far?
What is interesting about UdeM is the University is transitioning from an educational institution to a research institution. It’s an interesting time to be at the university, which it’s not a small university mind you, it’s quite big, especially for New Brunswick. The willingness that they have to transition from pure education to more research is where I can really bring some expertise to, and something I really enjoy being a part of.
How is Springboard supporting this transition at UdeM?
With all the different places I’ve been in the world, the big thing I’ve learned is that you cannot work by yourself. It’s impossible. You need to build partnerships and collaboration and learn from others — by yourself you’d never succeed. Springboard is what links all the universities together and links all of us to the business world, from start-ups to corporations. We all have something we can learn from each other and we all know that together we can do so much more.
We have the power to work together and to be considered as one if we can put everything on the table and recognize that our skills that [the network] has are all complimentary.
Yes, we are competitors to a certain extent, but we need to be collaborators, too.
What motivates you in this work?
I used to say that the best position you can have is at the interface. There is no better position than at the centre of where two things meet, and I think that’s what we do in this role between the universities and business. But, very often, the interfaces are neglected — and that’s a problem. You can’t have two communities or sectors separated because, eventually, they will stop growing.
And on a personal standpoint, I really enjoy this job because it allows me to get to know Canada, how Canadian’s work and how Canadian companies work.