In The Spotlight: Louise Formby-Miller, A Biotechnologist

This month we feature Louise Formby-Miller. Louise is a a Project Manager working on ColoSTAT at Rhythm Biosciences Limited in Australia. She has successfully stayed in the STEM path of biotechnology, following her university studies in the field. Louise says, she hasn’t achieved her biggest achievement as yet, but she is changing lives with her current and previous work. We asked Louise to tell us about her work as a project manager in biotechnology and life as a STEM woman.

Tell us about your typical day.

Being a small biotech company, days are unpredictable and the ability to be cross functional is very important. I might be working on a timeline, preparing a budget, drawing up a Bill of Materials or reviewing a protocol. Whatever the most important thing is to keep the project on track, is what gets done, and this can change very quickly

Did you use a particular process to map your career path?

Nothing specifically, but I feel it is always important to have a goal that you are trying to achieve. As long as you have some direction, you will be OK.

2018 11 02 Bio21 Women of Bio21 profile Louise Formby Miller WEB portrait1 002 Louise Miller
Louise Formby-Miller, Biotechnologist

What is most challenging about being a woman and/or mum in STEM?

As a mother, never feeling like you can commit 100% to either role. For me, I often wish I did not have to chose between my work and my children so often and I think this applies to mothers in any field, not just STEM. As a woman, resisting the idea that you need to be more aggressive or masculine in behavior to get ahead.

I think there is something to be said for a gentler approach to management.

What is most rewarding about being a woman and/or mum in STEM?

Being able to inspire others, including my children. I love speaking to young people about science and I love talking about how I got where I am. I did not have a typical and straightforward life path, nor career path and I like to make sure young people know that not everyone’s path will be the same. I guess I am a bit motherly in my working role too. I love to see people improve their skills and progress their careers.

Is there career progression available for women and mums in your field? Why do you think this is?

There is career progression available, however it is often stifled by taking leave to have children. This is not something that is simple to rectify as many mothers do want to take this leave. This is a very complex question.

Are there social and workplace changes that would help women and mums stay employed in your field?

More flexible working hours.

Do you have any advice for other parents navigating a career, gender challenges and/or parenthood?

We will never please everyone, so it is important to only take criticism from people who truly care about us, not just every person on the street.

All we can do is our best, and when we do that, we can be happy with ourselves even when others are critical.

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