From an early age, Susan MacLean Michel, was always encouraged to keep her academic options open. Now, as an Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP), she is proving that a background in science can take you in directions you never dreamed possible.
As an animal lover and avid equestrian, Susan wanted to be a veterinarian – a passion that required her to study science and math. While obtaining her BSc in biology at University, she had the opportunity to work as a research assistant at a biotech start-up. There Susan learned lab life was not for her, and she decided to find opportunities to leverage her science background and apply it to business.
With Susan's new business focus in mind, she went on to work in sales with a major healthcare company, and obtained her MBA; a move that allowed her to transition her career into product management with a leading innovator in natural health and nutrition products. Here, Susan broadened her experience in all aspects of the product life cycle, from concept to commercialization. She later went on to work as director of business development with a not-for-profit focused on fostering collaborative R&D projects between industry and academia in Nova Scotia. All of this experience proved the perfect mix of skills, leading her to become an ITA with NRC IRAP in 2013.
As an ITA, Susan relies on her expertise to provide technical and business advisory services to innovative small and medium sized companies mainly in the digital health sector. While her clients are in the Atlantic region, she also enjoys lending her expertise to other ITAs and companies across the country as part of NRC IRAP client teams – providing a holistic and team-based approach to helping companies succeed.
Susan's work also provides her the opportunity to mentor and support a number of innovative businesses that are women-led or have a number of female technical and business personnel – an experience she finds, "especially rewarding"
"Working closely with Canadian companies is the best part of my job as an ITA. Helping them innovate, thrive and benefit Canadians fuels me. Having spent most of my career in industry, it's where my heart is so I live vicariously through the success of clients."