The former scientist who traded autopsies for business leadership

The former scientist who traded autopsies for business leadership

“If you’re not at least 20 per cent scared, then you’re not living life.”  

BY UQ Business School, 5 min READ

Thanks to our friends at University of Queensland Business School

Jamie Ford’s career journey has been driven by her desire to find a sense of purpose in her work. Determined not to settle for what was familiar, Jamie’s ability to pivot has led to a successful career that aligns with her values.

Growing up in a family with two scientists for parents, Jamie’s career started at the age of 18 when she began assisting with autopsies in a lab. But it wasn’t long until she began to question the longevity of a career in science.  

I started getting wrapped up in the story of the deceased person and decided a career focused on that wouldn’t be good for my mental health.” 

Jamie also had the self-awareness to realise she missed the social interaction lacking in this line of work. 

Being a scientist in a lab, even if you’re managing a team of scientists, is often an isolating role. 

The final straw was when she moved to Malaysia to set up a world-leading Renewable Energy Laboratory 

“I didn’t feel connected to the work and wasn’t passionate about it like some colleagues – something for me just had to change.” 

Deciding to leave what she’d always known to discover work she would be passionate about, Jamie quit her job and made a bold decision to move to Australia to begin her Master of Business Administration (MBA) with The University of Queensland (UQ) Business School. 

“I chose to do an MBA because I really wanted to understand my value in a business context. In the UQ program, theres a focus on connecting into who you are, which aligned with the self-exploration I was on. 

Ultimately, my MBA with UQ helped me understand and develop my leadership style. It also allowed me to network beyond my initial background and experience. It provided me with the tools and ability to apply my critical thinking skills across any industry.” 

Jamie now works as the Executive Director of Practera, an experiential learning education technology provider focused on preparing global leaders for the future of work through technology. 

“My personal passion is to help people solve complex problems in creative ways, and I think the current pandemic has really reminded us how important that is. 

Practera launched an Experiential Learning Innovation Grant to support a number of Australian universities in accelerating online experiential learning programs during the financial strain of the pandemic. Through the grant, Jamie was able to work with UQ to launch the Test Your Big Idea Program, an innovation accelerator for MBA students and alumni. 

“It’s been a rewarding experience working with education clients during the coronavirus outbreak, to help them innovate and pivot quickly by delivering experiential learning online. 

As a leader with young children during the pandemic, I’ve had to learn to recognise my breaking points, better communicate and stay calm. Most importantly, I’ve learned how to be patient with myself and say, I can’t do it all and that’s ok. 

Jamie’s advice to anyone considering a career change is to embrace uncertainty. 

“A basic rule of humanity is nobody likes change. But if you’re not at least 20 per cent scared, then you’re not living life.”  

Ask yourself questions like, ‘Am I still learning? Am I still growing from this? If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. 


If you’re ready for your next challenge and have been inspired by Jamie’s story, register for an upcoming University of Queensland MBA Info Session in October and November.   With flexible study options and scholarships available exclusively for women, the UQ MBA can help you pivot your career and remain current in an ever-changing business landscape. 


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