In the lead-up to International Women’s Day on 8 March, TIQ celebrates women succeeding in Queensland trade.

Dr Nicola Angel, Head of Lab Operations, Microba
Microba gives consumers access to cutting-edge technology to analyse their individual gut microbiome. The company has worked extensively with TIQ to expand its export markets, and recently participated in TIQ’s US-based California Life Sciences Institute FAST accelerator program.

What does your job involve day to day?
My job at Microba is incredibly varied and covers all areas of laboratory operations. This means that no 2 days are identical and any single day can involve working on scientific or administrative tasks. There is a large component of staff management, asset management, quality management and scheduling to maintain a working laboratory, in addition to reading and responding to regulatory requirements, workplace safety requirements, Australian standards and government guidelines. As exciting as all those tasks sound, luckily there is also the opportunity to get involved in product innovation and improvement, and with research projects that come through the laboratory.

What is your biggest success in your working life?
There isn’t a single event that comes to mind but I have been part of some amazing projects that have led to meaningful improvements in the health sector. For me, my biggest success is to have developed an outlook where I see challenges in my working life not as being limiting but as opportunities for growth and innovation. This has enabled me to have a sustained, enjoyable and rewarding work life.

What’s something you know now that you wish you could tell your younger self?
I would tell myself that most of the time the people you are worried will criticise you are too busy worrying about what others think of them to even notice what you are doing. Be brave and take chances, it will pay off. Also, look after your health better – you need to develop good habits, like checking your gut health, because your current lifestyle will catch up with you in the future!

Your top 3 tips for succeeding in the workplace?

  • Leave your ego at home – It’s an old saying, but a champion team will outperform a team of champions any day of the week. Look for opportunities to work cooperatively – you will achieve more together than trying to cover everything alone.
  • Be open to new ideas – Today’s workplaces evolve at a rapid pace and the days when you could build a career on performing the same widget check on a manufacturing line for 30 years are long gone. The most successful employees are often not the most educated or experienced, but they are the most adaptable.
  • Drink coffee (or tea, chai or sparkling water if you must!) – Apart from the boost in productivity, it’s important to balance out your working day with some downtime and a break away from the computer or lab bench. Having a regularly scheduled relaxed catch-ups with other members of your organisation during breaks establishes great relationships and surprisingly this is often where novel ideas and approaches are generated spontaneously.
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