From PhD to working in industry: A Profile on UNSW Chemical Enigneering Alumni Dr Lei Wang

Dr Lei Wang commenced his PhD at the School of Chemical Engineering in mid-2012 inspired by his curiosity to seek a deeper understanding of engineering processes. His passion for hydrogen energy led him to complete his research on developing nanomaterials of metal hydrides for hydrogen storage. Since completing his PhD, he has utilised his project management skills in his current role as Project Manager for Coregas.

Dr Wang believes undertaking a PhD was the best preparation for his current role as a project manager in the largest Australian owned industrial, medical and specialty gas company. 

“As a PhD student I was essentially the project manager for my own research project over four years. I needed to constantly remind myself to take charge, take control, take initiative - no one else was responsible for my project,” Dr Wang said.

Dr Wang asserts that this responsibility taught him a sense of accountability and provided vital management skills that he uses every day as a project manager.

“I know how to chase the right people the right way to get things done and make new things happen. This is crucial to getting large projects finished on time and on budget,” Dr Wang says.

He further adds that the countless presentations given during his PhD provided a wonderful training ground for his current role, where he is calm and confident presenting in front of a large crowd and has learnt to be mindful about the background of the audience, adjusting the level of scientific language accordingly.

For young PhD graduates wishing to enter industry, Dr Wang advises that the most important factor is to not underestimate your value and to learn to communicate this. A research higher degree requires resource allocation, process optimisation, and effective communication. These skills combined with research expertise can go a long way in an industry career.

“PhD studies are not about receiving and understanding, but creating, and innovating. Innovation is extremely valuable in industry. Also, PhD graduates can often learn faster and better than anyone else because they have been trained in learning at an expert level. PhDs are not quitters.”

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