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Panelist Spotlight; Health Sciences Speed Networking (Ottawa Chapter)

Emily Freeman; May 17th 2024

With the S2BN Ottawa Chapter’s Health sciences speed networking event less than two weeks away, some of our featured panelists have already started sharing their insights regarding successful health science careers. Below, each panelist highlighted their first pieces of advice to job seekers and graduate students in a series of pre-event interviews spearheaded by our very own Alicia Zhang and Ivana Herrera. 


For the opportunity to learn more about our complete list of 10+ panelists and on how you can meet them, check our Health Sciences Speed Networking event page.



Dr. Rowida Mohamed (Research Associate; Carleton university) 


Currently, working as an instructor for Biology, Chemistry and Health Sciences Rowida shares her insights learned from her path so far in Academia.


We asked Rowida what her top piece of advice for current graduate students is? 


My top advice for grad students is to find genuine passion in what you're pursuing, but also recognize the importance of proficiency. A career in science isn't a straight path; it's more like a winding journey full of unexpected twists and turns. Embrace this unpredictability with an open mind, understanding that your trajectory might lead you to unexpected places. Throughout your PhD journey, remain resilient and seek guidance when needed. Attend professional development opportunities, even if they don't seem directly relevant, as they can connect you with invaluable networks. Remember, every experience contributes to your growth."


Regarding the value of her PhD experience she said: 


My PhD experience has undeniably been valuable in shaping my current work. It opened doors to diverse opportunities and allowed me to build a rich network of connections. Rather than a linear path, it resembled a mosaic of experiences, each contributing uniquely to my skill set and perspective. Through this journey, I've learned to adapt, innovate, and persevere in the face of challenges. So yes, my PhD experience continues to inform and enrich the work I do today."


Finally, as an ice breaker for when you meet her we asked her about her favorite spots to eat in Ottawa she replied: 


When it comes to dining in Ottawa, it's hard to pick just one favorite spot. However, if pressed, I'd have to mention Pho-Bo-Ga La Restaurant on Somerset St W. This place holds a special spot in my heart, as I've been savoring their delicious pho for over a decade. Another long-time favorite of mine is Saffron on Bank St, offering exquisite flavors and a warm ambiance Persian food. And last but not least, La Boca Cafe, where every visit feels like a culinary sweet adventure. These restaurants embody Ottawa's vibrant food scene, each offering a unique experience worth savoring.”



Harry Koundakjian (Advisor in Business Development; uOttawa/Mitacs)


Harry Koundakjian holds a BSc in biology from the University of Ottawa and an Executive MBA (EMBA) from Queen’s. With a background in sales and Founder experience in BioTech he currently uses these experiences to his advantage in order translating science into revenue.  


He attributes his success in the field to great mentors as he states: 


“I am fortunate to have been exposed to great mentors, leaders, and empaths that genuinely care about the quality of their work, and the legacy they leave. From them, I've adopted a quality policy that I love to share with future tastemakers, and hard-workers who work hard at changing our world for the better. I happen to think that all can be done with the help of a sales Development team. This is all supercharged by an EMBA.”


Harry also highlighted his love for educating consumers.


“I founded Beverage Genetics with the mission to use the best of science to educate consumers and allow them to make informed choices to improve their lives. We started with coffee because we love it and there's so much to learn and teach. We thrive at the crossroads between innovation and how people enjoy coffee in hopes of helping the coffee community learn more about the drink that we all love. After long consideration, we decided to cease coffee sales operations and instead fulfill our mission of education for free at


Eve Nadeau-Labadie (Health, Safety and Environment Advisor; National Research Council) 


Eve is a Chemical Engineer (University of Waterloo) with experience as an Environmental scientist currently employing these skills with her current work at the NRC. 


For graduate students looking to gain work experience in her line of work Eve recommends: 


“NRC hires a lot of graduate students so I would advise students to go through NRC website keep an eye on co-op programs and job opportunities, as they can be a great stepping stone in the long-term employment journey in the desired career direction. I am a Bachelor of Applied Science (Chemical Engineering), but most of my working experience was environmentally focused.  I am happy to guide the S2BN attendees to the right NRC research center and provide advice if they are interested in getting a hands-on experience in a desired career while studying.”


Dr. Emille Rodrigues (Business Development & Commercialization manager; Ontario centre of Innovation) 


Between her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Campinas (São Paulo, Brazil) and her passion for innovation in Health Sciences, Nanotechnology, Venture Capital, and Entrepreneurship, Emilie brings a diverse skillset to her current role with the Ontario center of Innovation where she works as a Business Development & Commercialization manager.   


When asked about her favorite aspects in her current work she said:


“I work actively building strategic industry-academia partnerships and working with inspiring entrepreneurs looking to solve innovation challenges. This allows me to help bring the next cutting-edge technologies to the market and actively contribute to economic growth in Canada!

To me, the most exciting

aspect of my job is working on building meaningful relationships between

strategic partners while supporting entrepreneurs to commercialize their tech

here in Canada!”


And when discussing the value of her PhD experience Emilie mentioned: 


“My PhD experience is very valuable in the work I am currently conducting. Although I transferred from research to business development, I have a great background knowledge in chemistry and biology that helps me communicate with researchers and biotech companies, and create meaningful relationships. Of course I am using the knowledge I gained to discern whether an idea has a potential and a market where it can be usefully applied.”


So far, our Panelists have highlighted valuable assets in their experiences whether through supportive mentors or academic training. Furthermore, they demonstrate how each of these experiences lead to their current career. To discuss, in-person with our industry experts on how you can create a similar career path for yourself, our Health sciences speed networking event is the place for you! We hope to see you there.  


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