Westpac and Group of Eight launch Australian-first employment program for PhD students
14 December 2016
Westpac and the Group of Eight (Go8) have partnered to offer the first program in Australia for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students with a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) to undertake employment with the Westpac Group during their studies.
The STEM PhD program was established in recognition of the importance of the STEM fields to the future of Australia and offers students paid, part-time employment with the Westpac Group while they undertake their PhD research at a Go8 university.
This joint collaboration between Westpac and the Go8 is the first of its kind in Australia and aims to deliver both greater research outcomes as well as to professionally develop researchers who can make an enhanced contribution to the economy.
Westpac Group General Manager for Enterprise HR Strategy & Services, Shenaz Khan, said the partnership forms part of Westpac Group’s investment in innovation and commitment to diversity.
“There are huge gains to be made by connecting some of Australia’s best academic minds with Australian businesses,” said Shenaz. “This is a unique opportunity to develop researchers from our top universities as well as to deliver innovative solutions to the challenges we face in the commercial sector.
“A key requirement for the success of this program is a flexible working environment, where students can work on a part time basis and balance their commitments between Westpac and their university. At Westpac, we encourage employees to take advantage of flexible working and development opportunities so we’re well positioned to be the first to offer such a program. I’m confident our collaboration with the Go8 will lead to increasing engagement between academia and industry to benefit all Australians,” added Shenaz.
Chief Executive of the Go8, Vicki Thomson, said the employment program had been an exciting proposition from Westpac and the Go8 was sure it would now become an exemplar for PhD training collaboration.
“We have seen the economic value of such collaborative programs overseas, and the Go8 looks forward to ensuring this first of its kind in Australia delivers two things – encourages other companies to follow the Westpac lead, and illustrates the commitment to excellence of both Westpac and the Go8,” she said.
The successful students will undertake two 24-month rotations within selected business units at Westpac Group from February 2017. Students will be matched with a mentor who will guide them through their experience, providing mentorship, introductions and advice on how to balance their commitments. Students will also participate in a professional development program which will be tailored to their skills and the development areas they nominate.
Karina Mak, a first year PhD student at the University of Sydney, Faculty of Science, has been selected to commence the STEM PhD program with Westpac in February 2017. “I’m excited to start at Westpac in the New Year. This is a fantastic and unique opportunity for PhD students to graduate with practical, on-the-job experience. It’s encouraging to see that a company like Westpac is supporting STEM disciplines and emerging research that align with their commercial interests,” said Karina.