Profile - Patent examiner (Nicole)




Bachelor of Science and Graduate Diploma of Reproductive Science

Current employment speciality

Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetics

What were you doing before joining IP Australia and how did you hear about us?

I lived in Melbourne selling tickets at the movies and doing some patent searching for a plant biotechnology company endeavoring to genetically engineer blue roses. A patent attorney I met at a party originally steered me in IP Australia's direction.

Why did you apply to become a Patent Examiner?

Lab work really didn't appeal to me, (or rather I didn't appeal to lab work), so patent exam provided a way for me to continue an involvement with science. The idea of moving out of home to another city and finally learning to do my own laundry was also appealing.

How did you find the selection process and training program?

The selection process was a little different to your average job interview in that it involved writing a short essay and solving a couple of little puzzles. It wasn't particularly difficult and gave a good insight into what to expect on the job. The training was comprehensive and involved a lot of robust debate and friendly banter. I started with 9 others around my age. We were located in our own training unit with a a small group of experienced examiners who gave us their undivided attention. Indeed many of us still have a weekly lunch appointment.

What do you like most about your job?

I particularly enjoy exploring the more complex legal and technical issues that arise in intellectual property. Lately I've been doing some very interesting work in the analysis of court decisions and assisting with the preparation of submissions. From time to time I'm involved in the training and supervision of new examiners which I find personally rewarding.

I've also enjoyed a few 'extracurricular' roles as a staff representative on our workplace committee and a negotiator in our certified agreement (which defines our pay and conditions).

What do you think is the best thing about working at IP Australia?

IP Australia provides extremely flexible working conditions. I often take advantage of our 'flextime' system where I can build up extra working hours and then take an afternoon or full day off without having to access my recreation leave. This flexibility has allowed me to pursue all sorts of interests including owning and racing a go-kart, sailing, flying lessons, motorcycling and cooking classes. I also love wearing casual clothes into the office!

What opportunities have you had since joining IP Australia?

Recently I've become an assistant hearing officer and hope to move on to becoming a hearing officer within the next few months. Part of my training has involved a stint in our oppositions, hearings and legislation section which I enjoyed immensely. I've also been able to represent staff on several committees, served as an occupational health and safety officer and participated in a leadership program. Scientific conferences I've attended have been in Newcastle, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. While working in oppositions I also travelled to Sydney to attend a Federal Court case that IPA was involved in.

What would you highlight to potential applicants considering a career with IP Australia?

Interesting work, a family friendly, sociable, collegiate atmosphere and flexible work opportunites such as working from home or even in another city.

How do you like living in Canberra?

Canberra is simply an easy place to live. I live only a couple of minutes from work - it's amazing what a difference not having to commute for hours a day makes. Twenty minutes away is a swimming hole in the river where you can find your own little spot of sand in the shade. There are native birds everywhere and the virtually non-existant traffic lets me fang around on my postie bike without too much fear of becoming roadkill.

Last Updated: 13/12/2012

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