Santiago Corujeira Gallo

A brief history of your career since leaving the University of Birmingham

I finished my PhD degree in 2009. In the last 10 years I have held postdoctoral positions in 4 countries and 3 different continents. I have worked on fundamental research and applied projects with industrial partners. More importantly, I have come across some amazing people and I have managed to encourage and mentor some of my junior colleagues.

Skills and knowledge from your postgraduate degree have you used in your career so far

I have used every single bit of knowledge, from core technical skills in metallurgy and materials (surface engineering, corrosion and wear), to project management, teaching and soft skills such as team working, and an understanding of cultural diversity.

Main work activities in your current role

I manage one of the large research projects at the Institute for Frontier Materials of Deakin University. In my role, I liaise with PhD students and postdoctoral fellows on a daily basis, assist with daily aspects of their research, and make sure they have access to the right tools for their projects. I also manage our relationships with our five industrial partners and with the two other universities involved in the Training Centre. Last, but not least, I assist the director with the strategic plans and funding applications.

A typical day in your job

There is no typical day, but I usually divide my week as follows: On Monday, I could be doing a literature survey, or a patent search. On Tuesdays, I usually visit our industrial partners to discuss implementation and commercialisation opportunities for their research outcomes. I may be involved in a recruitment process, preparing a position description and interviewing candidates on Wednesdays. Thursdays could be dedicated to meetings with students and researchers, reviewing their results and planning their next experiments, or even occasionally running my own experiments. On Friday I might have a dedicated catch-up with the director, plan the next steps and future funding applications, update the website and attend a seminar when time allows. There may also be some further reading/writing that I need to do over the weekend.

Main challenges in your role

The main challenges in my current role are time management, handling people and mitigating/resolving conflicts.

Why did this type of work appeal to you?

I like the diversity of tasks and opportunities that I have in this role. It was also a fantastic chance to move away from the short funding cycles of postdoctoral positions.

Advice for students looking to enter this area of work?

Be flexible, but keep your objective at the forefront of your mind at all times. Be prepared to jump on it when the opportunity arises.