Mark Gatus

What is your current position, and what do you do?
My current position is Faculty Project Coordinator/SciQuest Officer at Macquarie University. My job is a mix of rolling out Jaggaer (SciQuest)– the new reagent management system – for the Faculty of Science & Engineering, while also coordinating and providing support across a broad range of Faculty-specific projects, such as refurbishments and new laboratory builds.

Describe your study/employment pathway so far
After finishing high school I worked in hospitality for two years (2002-2004) and undertook a traineeship that was run within the business. Following my hospitality stint I decided to study a Diploma in Accounting by correspondence, through TAFE NSW, while working full time at GE Commercial Finance as an Account Executive (2005-2006). By this point I had decided that the Finance industry wasn’t suited to my interests or career path, and so I decided to follow my passion for science and made the decision to commence a Science degree at UNSW, majoring in Chemistry (2007-2010). Naturally, this progressed directly into a PhD under the supervision of Barbara Messerle (2011-2014). Upon completion of my PhD, I then moved to Macquarie University with Barbara as a Research Associate (2015-2016), and at the end of my contract was offered a position to manage the rollout and implementation of Jaggaer ERM across the Science Faculty at Macquarie University.

What has been your biggest challenge, career-wise?
My biggest challenge was deciding on a career path that I would enjoy. Finding job satisfaction has been difficult in the past, particularly when there aren’t opportunities to grow within a company, or there are no opportunities to help develop and improve upon processes, etc. Being provided with challenges and different tasks keeps the mind fresh, and the role interesting and enjoyable!

What achievement are you most proud of?
Apart from my family, academically, it would definitely be completing my PhD and having it all published.

What do you believe are the greatest attributes of a successful scientist?
Initiative - Without out taking initiative you become lost, and lose sight of what you are trying to achieve, progress slows and you become disinterested.
Persistence – Giving up yields nothing, if you try to give your 100%, and push through those seemingly impossible experiments, instead of giving up, you will eventually be rewarded, even though it may seem like it will never come to fruition.

How have you used the skills/knowledge that you acquired, from studying chemistry, in your current role?
Skills such as logic, persistence and critical thinking have helped tremendously with my current role. There are a lot of challenges in trying to provide a software solution to a Faculty where there are large differences between departments, which are structured and managed completely differently. The knowledge from studying chemistry for 8 years has also helped with the Jaggaer reagent management system role, considering a large part of the software is tied to chemical health and safety.   

What are your interests outside of work?
Taking my kids to the park, pool and beach. Soccer is my passion, but unfortunately takes a back seat these days, however, I still get to enjoy SciFi movies and series.

What helps you achieve a work-life balance?
Fortunately, my current role is flexible with starting/finishing times. This allows me to start earlier than a normal office job so that I can get home at a reasonable time, and spend the late afternoon/evening with my family. Universities are quite flexible with work arrangements so they are fantastic to work at when you have a young family!

What advice would you give to students starting their science careers?
If you are unsure where you want to take your career, think outside the box there are many resources online that can guide you down a pathway that isn’t your stereotypical scientific career.

Is there anything you would like to share?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, particularly when working in a lab! Asking questions demonstrates you are thinking about what you are doing and not going in blind hoping for the best and potentially making a mistake.

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