Maggie Ng

What is your current position, and what do you do?
I am currently Vice President and Head of the Technology Development Centre at Xinova. Xinova is an innovation services business which helps clients understand and solve their most pressing challenges. We brainstorm and innovate with our clients to future-proof their businesses by developing and investing in early stage technology.  
 
What made you decide not to pursue/to leave research?
I decided early on in my PhD that I would not pursue becoming an academic. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed my PhD, the uncertainty of a career in academia solidified my desire to follow a different career path.
 
How did you transition into this current role from a science degree?
After my PhD, I joined a small consulting firm, and worked as a consultant for about a year. The role at Intellectual Ventures (now Xinova) popped up, and I’ve been with the company for the last 5 years.
 
How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?
The fundamentals of chemistry teach us to see the world in a different way. We’re taught that everything is made up of atoms, so we focus on the details. Yet zooming out, we’re taught that combining atoms builds molecules, which form elements, of which, everything in the world is made of. So, we’re also taught to see the bigger picture. The ability to look at both the details and see the bigger picture has guided me in my career and it’s something that I look for in others. 
 
What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?
Transiting from academia to industry. It was definitely a risk, and having to start from the bottom was challenging, but it has certainly paid dividends.
 
What achievement are you most proud of?
How far I’ve made it at Xinova, and succeeding in a very male-dominated industry.
 
What are your interests outside of work?
Travelling and hunting for good food/coffee.
 
What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
A career in science is borne out of love. It can be incredibly frustrating and uncertain, but if science interests you, just go for it. The world needs more scientist. 
 
What helps you achieve a work-life balance?
Having goals and scheduling time off to look after myself –  whether it be blocking off a few hours a week to go to the gym, or making sure I utilize my leave, so I get a physical and mental break from work.
 
Is there anything you would like to share?
Being female and a leader in a technical role is tough. There aren’t many of us around and we certainly face more challenges then our male colleagues. However, don’t let that discourage you from giving it a go. Whilst hard, it has been incredibly rewarding, and the more females out there in technical industries the better. I want to encourage as many women as I can to do STEM subjects, and to pursue a career in industry or academia.

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