1. Tell us a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m Sarmi and I am currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in the field of Organometallic/Bioinorganic chemistry at Monash University. My key area of research revolves around the synthesis of metal-based complexes targeting antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It’s both exciting and humbling to be contributing my knowledge to this global public health threat. I’ve recently used my passion for innovation and research in STEM, as a Technical Operations Manager at Monash BrewLab, Australia’s first student-led nano-brewery team. Here, I’ve been able to transfer my skills and analytical knowledge as a chemist to the brewing industry. Outside of my academic life, I am competitive cheerleader! The trust, teamwork and mental resilience that I have gained from this sport continue to push me to be a successful individual in both my professional and personal life.
2. Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?
My mother wasn’t much older than me when she moved to Australia and setting up a new life, in a new country, all while juggling two young children was not an easy feat! She is the first individual to have given me a safe environment where I could push my boundaries. My mother is the first person to have shown me what empathy and compassion are and from that, I am continually inspired by her. 2020 saw a landmark event for all women in science and future generations to come. For the first time in history, two women, Prof. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Prof. Jennifer Doudna won the Nobel prize in Chemistry for the development of CRISPR-Cas9. For me, this was a particularly inspiring event as we saw the collaborative efforts of two women who have illuminated a pathway for budding scientists all around the world!
3. Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?
The time has well and truly passed for women to break the glass ceiling and level the playing field, we need to ensure that women have an equal opportunity to contribute to innovation. Women are exceptionally resourceful, capable and can add tremendous value to businesses. Representation matters and women in upper-level leadership roles can allow for systematic change, serve as role models and pioneer a path in career progression for other women. Investing in their success will not only build industries but the Australian business ecosystem.
4. How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?
Language can be a powerful tool for change, and diversity and inclusion are more than just buzzwords. Numerous studies have both proven and reaffirmed the notion that a diverse and inclusive workplace delivers better business outcomes. In saying that, people are poor at both identifying and correcting their biases which result in the “status quo” being maintained. Unpacking the inherent biases that exist within a business’ framework starts with modifying the language around this space, and the language that we use.