Choose Science careers evening
Thinking about studying science? Not sure where it can lead?
Come along to our careers evening and find out where science can take you. The opportunities may surprise you! Learn about degree options and campus life. Hear from some of our inspiring graduates. Find out how they’ve turned their passions into a successful career with a science degree.
When: 6.30pm to 8.30pm, Tuesday 23 May 2017
Where: C Block, Ilam Campus, University of Canterbury
Registration: Free entry.
Bring your friends and whānau!
- Cleaning up the beauty industry - Brianne West
- Success in is your hands - Gareth Taylor
- Science Communicator - Sarah-Jane O'Connor
- Shane Davison - Science graduate mapped out his future
Cleaning up the beauty industry - Brianne West
Brianne West — entrepreneur, biochemist and founder of Ethique beauty — has always aimed high.
As a child she dreamed of being an astronaut (still does!) and started her first business aged just eight – a pet detective agency to reunite lost pets with their owners. While the detective agency didn’t pan out, it ignited her entrepreneurial spirit.
In her second year of a Bachelor of Science degree at University of Canterbury (UC) Brianne worked out how to create solid shampoos and realised there could be a business in it. After attracting an initial investor through a pitching competition run by UC, and a highly successful crowdfunding campaign, Ethique was born.
Brianne has since developed more than 30 solid beauty bars including solid shampoos for different hair types as well as conditioners, cleansers, scrubs, moisturisers, serums, a self-tanning bar, household cleaners and even a pet shampoo. Ethique (pronounced Eh-tique) is the French word for ‘ethical’. It’s believed to be the world’s first beauty company to develop an entirely ‘solid’ product range. All products are sold in compostable packaging, meaning zero consumer waste.
“I’m passionate about the values Ethique stands for and the change we’re creating in the world with products that are waste free, natural and effective. I’m insanely proud that we’ve prevented more than 130,000 bottles from being made and disposed – our next goal is one million.”
Not bad for a woman who initially had no idea what career she wanted. “I went into science for pure interest with no real thought to a job out the other end of it.” As it turns out, a science degree was the perfect foundation for Brianne’s business ambitions.
“Studying science has not only helped in practical terms – like being able to formulate products and carry out clinical trials, but it also taught me how to evaluate sources, read studies, think critically and look at all options before making a decision. I’ve been able to use the skills I have to create a business that has a positive tangible effect on the environment and that feels amazing.” Brianne says she’s proof that it’s okay to not know what you want to do. “Follow what you love and you will find a career. Work hard, do the extra reading and it will all fall into place.”
Brianne’s plans for the future:
1. develop a global company ridding the world of cosmetic waste
2. invest in high-tech farming such as vertical farming or synthetic meat and milk
3. work with producers and farmers to ensure they earn a fair price for their product, can help their communities and protect their environment
4. and something in conservation too…
Success in in your hands - Gareth Taylor
It’s an approach that’s paid off. After finishing Burnside High School he enrolled in a Bachelor of Science at University of Canterbury and went on to earn a PhD in environmental science. “I ended up doing environmental science because that’s what I was interested in, and that’s mostly how my career has developed too – ultimately, I decided to follow my interests towards environmental consulting.” Gareth now leads a world class team of engineers, scientists and planners at Jacobs – one of the world’s largest construction and engineering companies.
“Our projects include large scale infrastructure design, environmental assessments and strategic advisory for clients. I also have project roles in areas of environmental management, project management and ecology, and manage a number of projects in flood management that evaluate earthquake effects on flooding and how best to resolve flood risk in Christchurch.”
Being able to help in the rebuild of his home city after a series of devastating earthquakes is one of the highlights of his career. He’s also proud to lead a great team of people who are providing long-term benefits for people and communities all over the world. The work is diverse and varied and involves a high amount of problem solving and ability to think on your feet – all skills he honed while studying science at UC. “Studying science taught me to self-learn and apply learnings quickly. It gives you a chance to get outside and the skills learnt are adaptable to many different areas.”
Gareth’s advice to anyone considering studying science? It’s the same recipe that worked for him. “Do what interests you firstly – there’s no point studying something you don’t like doing.” From there, it’s up to you. “The exact topic is not the ultimate decider of your career, personal attributes are equally as important.”
Science Communicator Sarah-Jane O'Connor
In a world of fake news and pseudo-science, there’s never been a greater need for people who can interpret, explain and breakdown complex science. Luckily for New Zealand, we have science communicators like Sarah-Jane O’Connor – a former journalist and now media adviser for New Zealand’s Science Media Centre. She works with scientists and mainstream media to promote accurate, evidence-based reporting on science and technology.
“A lot of my day is spent deciphering science jargon from papers and turning it into something usable for journalists. I also need to know a lot of background to understand stories and their relevance, for instance - is this really something new or controversial or have we known this for ages? We also see a lot of pseudo-science being peddled and it's essential to have the knowledge to weigh up evidence and make calls on what's real and what's marketing.” With a Bachelor of Science and PhD in Ecology, and Graduate Diploma in Journalism — all from University of Canterbury — Sarah-Jane is well-qualified for the role. Before her current job she was a journalist for Fairfax Media.
“As a journalist I was privileged to spend a week at Scott Base in Antarctica. It's an unbelievable experience and so impossible to describe - it's an other-worldly place. Being a journalist gets you to some incredible places and allows you access to amazing people, it's a huge privilege.” Being able to combine her curiosity about the world with a love of writing is a long-held dream for the former Naenae College student from Lower Hutt.
“I was an animal geek who wanted to study animal behaviour, but I also loved writing. The big choice when I left high school was whether to study biology or some form of creative writing so I'm pretty pleased I can combine both.” She encourages future science students to keep an open mind when deciding which subjects to study, and to not be afraid of a challenge.
“Shop around, especially in your first year, try out different subjects, find out what you like, follow your passions and the subjects that make your ears prick up during classes. Do take the harder things, like perhaps math and statistics, because they'll give you invaluable experience in crunching numbers and can prove really useful for other tasks.” She says the world needs more science-literate people and encourages anyone with an interest in the world around them to study the subject.
“Everything is science. If you're curious about the world, science can be a gateway to an incredible understanding of many parts of our lives. We can be bombarded with confusing and conflicting messages, but science teaches you a method to sift through all the guff and make your own decisions about what's best for you and your family. In that sense, it's empowering.”
Shane Davison - Science graduate mapped out his future
If you want to change the world then science is the way to go, tech entrepreneur Shane Davidson says. “It’s never been more easy to make an impact on other people, your innovations can have wide-reaching influence.” Shane should know. As the founder and managing director of MAProgress, he’s transforming the way the world sees and experiences outdoor sporting events.
“Creating stuff that people love is what motivates me.” Shane went to Temuka High School (now Opihi College) in South Canterbury and gained a Bachelor of Forestry Science from UC, specialising in conservation forestry, before returning to study computer science and GIS.
He did a range of jobs — from software developer to business analyst — but it wasn’t until his wife and business partner Jane walked the Te Araroa Trail (which runs from one end of New Zealand to the other) that he had his eureka moment. “She walked solo for 53 days and her personal GPS tracker was her connection with home. I saw her on the map with this satellite tracking and thought “it’s a pretty cool thing – but with my skills in science, tech and the outdoors I can do something that works a whole lot better”.
That’s when MAProgress was born. The company initially focused on tracking individual athletes, but quickly expanded to cover entire events from the Coast to Coast multisport endurance race to the Air Race Classic – a Women's light aircraft race in the United States. Shane’s long-term vision is for MAProgress to be the world leader and default provider for event and personal GPS tracking worldwide. “I have three main passions which I combined to form my business – mapping, software development, and adventures in the outdoors.
Without studying at UC I couldn't do what I’m doing now.” Shane’s advice to anyone thinking about studying science? “Go for it! You’ll need a wide range of skills for the future, and it may not be specifically in the areas you study. If you have a desire to be in your own business then science will help you expand your horizons to get an understanding of other areas and enable you to relate better to more people.”