Sharmila Kannan recently joined Wintec as the Research Operations Manager. Sharmila originally hails from Singapore where she was the Director of Administration, Research Affairs and Support Services at the Singapore Eye Research Institute, Singapore’s national research institute for ophthalmic and vision research, and the largest eye research institute in the Asia-Pacific region. Her role there was as diverse as it was multi-faceted, encompassing research administration, operations, grant management, contracts, ethics as well as corporate affairs and philanthropy, with indirect oversight of finance and human resources.
Sharmila begin her career managing a laboratory after graduating with an honors degree, majoring in Microbiology, however, she soon found herself in the realm of research management, and enjoying every minute of it. Indeed, that was when she realised her true calling!
When asked about her reason for moving to New Zealand, Sharmila responds, “What I have found truly unique about New Zealand is really its people. Everyone we have had the pleasure to meet thus far have been so generous in spirit, and so gracious in rendering their assistance. It’s really wonderful and I am so inspired. I was in Wellington in Sept 2017 attending the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS) conference, and I was extremely impressed by the beautiful city, the rich heritage and the graciousness of the people. I have travelled to many countries e.g. US, Australia, in Asia and UK, but I must say that New Zealand strikes me as one of the most progressive yet keenly attuned to culture, people and heritage, thus making it very holistic in outlook and perspective.
Consequently, the idea of relocating to New Zealand…New Zealanders have their priorities right and do not compromise on family time, while still being able to achieve excellence at work”
Asked about the challenges of managing research operations, Sharmila notes that there are challenges in every facet of life but we need to be objective in assessing these challenges, understand and study the dynamics of the problem, engage with all stakeholders and look at ways towards a reasonable and fair resolution that generally aligns with most parties, and move towards reaching our strategic goals.
Importantly, we should always be guided by a strong moral compass, good work ethic, empathy, consideration for others, and pragmatism - essentially a set of principles that serve as guidance in all that we do.
Helen Keller once said: ‘Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing at all’. While there will always be challenges, I personally would rather focus on the ‘adventure’ of riding over these challenges.