I shadowed the Co-Founder and Managing Director of gemaker, Natalie Chapman for a week. I assumed I would be in an office, but over the week I travelled a lot and learned a lot.

Monday

We were at the University of Wollongong to run a training program for researchers so they can develop long-term relationships with industry. We covered topics including selling and trust, meeting the expectations of industry, Small-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) vs. Multinational companies and pitching.

What I learnt

The importance of creating a long-term relationship with your customer and to make the transaction about their wants and needs. It was also interesting to consider that one of the largest obstacles in a sales transaction is the lack of trust between the researcher and industry. My favourite aspect of the training session was the time spent on pitching. It made me think about how often I pitch daily and the best ways to present yourself and your ideas.

Tuesday and Wednesday

We were at the Corporative Research Centres (CRC) conference hosted by UTS. CRC programs match Australian universities and industry, so researchers can recognise and solve a problem for industry. I heard from politicians, CEOs, academics and media journalists. I found some sessions a little difficult to comprehend, however some of my favourite sessions were about commercialisation of technology, marketing and science in the media.

What I learnt

I was frequently reminded of the importance of marketing. One speaker said that if there is an amazing product with poor marketing, it will not sell as well as a poor product with amazing marketing. I saw many examples of companies that had an amazing product yet often there was minimal money spent on marketing. If investment is made in marketing the return will be much better and the product will sell better.

Thursday

We went into the city, meeting at Dymocks to prepare for a meeting with a potential client. We also discussed the website and I collated the feedback from the training session on Monday. At the meeting, most of what was discussed was a little beyond my knowledge, as the company’s focus is on port safety. Their products included a scale for transporters to weigh cargo shipping crates before they were loaded onto ships; safety tape that is stronger and safer to use to limit accidents of crates falling on people; and lashings that are faster to install than previous designs which keep crates stable when stacked.

What I learnt

While I enjoy business, I found it difficult to concentrate on something about which I had little understanding. It was still an amazing experience few my age can have. There are some aspects of running a business I would enjoy while others I would not be so fond of.

Conclusion

I enjoyed meeting various people from industry and a few researchers. At the beginning of the week, I was unsure of the role of gemaker but now I understand that they commercialise technology. They meet a researcher and help them market their product, helping them find the right marketing strategy for them and the correct market for them to target. I learned that gemaker will produce the best results for their customer when marketing plans begin early in the planning process.

By Jemmima Schembri, Year 10 work experience student