Welcome to my new interview series featuring some of the brightest and most hard-working women I know. My goal for this series is to collect stories from women in all levels of their career. The hope is that their journey and their advice will trigger something in you, and help you take the jump you need to achieve your personal level of success. Whether they are freelancers, founders of their own business, corporate employees, or students, this #LadiesWhoHustle series will showcase their unique talents and help you unveil yours.
Katharine Bassett is a medical scientist in her mid-20's. She studied her undergraduate degree at the Australian National University, which is also where she is doing her PhD. Katharine's research for the last four years has focused on understanding the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. Wow!
Read on to learn more about this incredible woman in science, and why she chose this path in life.
Finishing up my PhD at the ANU (Immunology) and commenced at KPMG in January.
Why do you do what you do?
About four years ago, my sister was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. At the time, I was in the third year of my undergraduate degree and I was completing two immunology courses, and I found that studying immunology enabled me to better understand her disease and what she was going through. I then commenced an honours year to better understand autoimmune diseases and to contribute to research, however, throughout my honours year I was also diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and this was one of the motivators for me commencing my PhD. My eldest brother has also recently been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. So, essentially, I do what I do because me and my loved ones are affected by autoimmune diseases.
What was your dream job at 10 years old?
I wanted to be a doctor - both my parents are doctors and I looked up to them.
If you could have anyone's job in the world, whose job would you choose and why?
Australia's Chief Scientist - I feel like I could positively influence Australia's direction and impact in science globally, with a strong focus on encouraging young girls and women to participate in STEM.
What is one thing people outside of your industry get wrong about your job?
I find that a lot of people outside of my industry think that the discoveries I find as a scientist are on a huge scale, when really they are just a small scale of a very large puzzle. I almost find that when I tell someone outside of my field about what I would consider a massive discovery or finding, they are a little bit disappointed as I still haven't cured all human immune-related diseases.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I have really enjoyed my time in research, however, I am actually making a career change to join the corporate world at the beginning of 2019. In 10 years time, I hope to find myself managing a large team of people, as this is something that I have loved doing over the last few years, whilst challenging myself and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone to solve problems.
What has been your biggest career struggle so far?
I struggled to realize that a career in scientific research was not for me, and that my strengths actually lay in things like problem solving, writing, analysis and management of people, rather than laboratory work. My career, however, is only really beginning, so I am sure that there will be many struggles in the future!
And what about your biggest career win?
Apart from finishing my PhD, which is obviously a huge milestone, I was recently offered a position at KPMG in management consulting, which is really exciting and something I am really looking forward to.
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
I think being told to just go with the flow and learn from all experiences, good or bad.
What about the worst piece of career advice?
I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who have generally given me good advice actually. I think being told to stick with something that made me incredibly unhappy was the worst career advice, as I think it is really hard to succeed at something that makes you unhappy.
What are you the most proud of?
I am most proud of finishing my PhD - it has been a long journey with lots of ups and downs and I am glad that I have made it out in the end.
Who motivates you the most?
My partner Jordan. We are pretty much a team when it comes to my career - he helps me practice before interviews, he reads my Honours and PhD thesis, and he has been there through all the tough times when I need motivation to pick myself up again.
What advice do you have for those looking for a career in your field?
As I am sort of between two careers, I would say overall that it is important to know your strengths and your weaknesses, and then find a supervisor or an organization that will utilize your strengths and invest time in working on your weaknesses. Don't settle for somewhere that doesn't value who you are.
When do you feel the most confident?
This is probably really silly and superficial, but when I am wearing high heels. For some reason, it makes me feel really confident. I always wear high heels when I am giving a presentation or seminar or attending an interview, for the extra boost of confidence.
How do you relax?
I like to bake or go for long walks withe my dog Paco.
Currently coveting: to learn Spanish.
Favourite way to sweat: hitting the gym.
Favourite book: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck.
Morning bird or night owl? Morning person!
Favourite '90s jam: Ignition Remix - R. Kelly.
Favourite city: in Australia, Melbourne. In the world, Tokyo.
Spirit animal: a fox.
Get in touch with Katharine!
Know anyone that would be great to feature in the #LadiesWhoHustle series? Connect with me on Instagram to nominate them - or yourself!