2 October 2017 – The IMU Medical Biotechnology (MB) students from MB1/15 cohort gained insights from six speakers hailing from different types of industries. Among the speakers, four were IMU MB’s very own alumni. Taking place in the Senate Room of the IMU, the “Forum with Industry Experts” was part of the teaching and learning activities under Communication Skills and Etiquette module. The aim of this forum itself was to prepare MB students – with testimonies and advices from industrial experts – for the internships that they are going to undertake as a part of the curriculum in the near future and for the working or postgraduate lives soon after.
The forum quickly took off with Prof Cheong Sok Ching’s informative and invigorating talk which covered a wide scope of area in the biological sciences field, especially cancer research. Heading the Head and Neck Cancer research team of Cancer Research Malaysia (CRM) and as an Adjunct Professor in Universiti Malaya (UM), Prof Cheong highlighted what employers in research institutes and/or companies are looking for in fresh graduates. Given the nature of MB course, research is one of the major industries that graduates would eventually be a part of, hence, she also conveyed the deep research questions that loom over the field of cancer research and how relevant the field of research is today and in the future.
Prof Cheong, who is also constantly involved with recruitment and interviews of incoming scientists to CRM, also shared some tips for anxious interviewees. With emphasis on promptness and readiness, Prof. Cheong made it very clear that these traits are of the utmost importance during interviews, which are not only restricted to the research field.
This is followed by Jeff Tan, CEO of Biovites Corporation Sdn Bhd and Futera Asia Sdn Bhd, who was the second speaker of the day. With brimming enthusiasm, Jeff shared ample experiences including ones he had during his time as a Recruitment and Training Manager for Procter & Gamble (P&G), the world’s largest fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company. Highlighting the importance of presentation, networking, and the quality of cover letters that accompany interviewees’ resumes, Jeff’s points were made loud and clear, especially given his qualifications in scouting for talents worldwide. When questions were opened to the floor, MB students were more than eager to enquire on more walk through for impending job interviews. MB graduates from some of the pioneer cohorts also had the privilege to share their experience in the recent years as they delved in different industrial settings. Penocia Pawel, who is now a senior clinical research associate at inVentiv Health (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, gave a rousing talk in the importance of not giving up in facing rejection and tidbits regarding clinical research. Ling Zhi Ni quickly followed with her elaboration on being a product specialist and her remaining experiences in the biotechnology sector of sales and marketing.
The inspiring story of how Sharmen Chong managed her family company also rooted back to the many scientific knowledge she had learnt in IMU’s MB programme and their applications in the food science industry. Lastly, Dr Amelia Nathania Dong showcased the lives of many students’ interest to pursue a career in research or academia which resonated well with what Prof Cheong mentioned earlier in the forum.
In conclusion, the field of biotechnology is ever expanding as new potentials in different aspects of biology are constantly being discovered. Undergraduates need constant reminders despite the current market situation, that career within the industry is more relevant than ever and that a constant supply of fresh minds keep industries on their toes. Often, students may find it hard to explain or justify what their prospective jobs are in the future to their families or peers from different disciplines. This forum, thus, successfully shed more light into the lives of MB undergraduates and served as a great platform of networking for future opportunities. Written by: Andrew Octavian Sasmita (MB1/14) Photos by: Farah Ahmad Kutubbudin (MB1/15)