Postcard from Singapore: Mastering the art and science of networking

Mayura Wagle was a part of our 2023 Nextgen program and is the Director of Investor Relations and Communications at ASLAN Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage biotech company.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself, where your home is in Australia, and where you now call home.

Mayura Wagle Advance contributor based in Singapore

Hello from Singapore! I completed a PhD in immunology at ANU before venturing into the biotech industry in Singapore five years ago. Since relocating, I have worked across various roles in venture capital, operations, and communication within the biotech sector. I have also been active in the biotech ecosystem in Singapore and globally through my involvement with various non-profit organisations. Apart from my professional pursuits, I have a passion for Indian classical dance and am currently learning Odissi, a traditional dance form, in Singapore. Exploring new destinations through travel is another activity I thoroughly enjoy.

What led you to move overseas, and what advice would you give for those following in your path?

I had always wanted to work and live overseas, but I had imagined it would be in Europe or the US. When the opportunity arose for my husband, who was my fiancé at the time, to relocate to Singapore for his work, I found myself in the midst of writing my PhD thesis and searching for the next step in my career. It was a pivotal moment for me, and I decided to embrace the transition and move with him. While Asia wasn’t part of our initial plan, our experience here has been truly remarkable, providing tremendous opportunities for both professional and personal growth.

For those seeking an overseas experience, it is indeed beneficial to have a clear plan regarding the desired country and job. However, it is equally vital to maintain an open mind and be receptive to opportunities that may arise outside the boundaries of your initial plan. Relocating to a different country can be a challenging process, and embracing serendipity can not only ease the transition but also lead to extraordinary adventures.

Mayura Wagle at the GapSummit

What’s been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in making your move?

Moving overseas and transitioning from academia to industry simultaneously proved to be my greatest challenge. In addition to adapting to a new country, I faced the daunting task of navigating this change without any established professional networks. As a fresh PhD graduate, I lacked industry experience and struggled to identify suitable roles that aligned with my background in Singapore. However, I approached this opportunity for growth and exploration with an open mind, ready to embrace the challenges that lay ahead.

What helped me find my footing was networking and seeking assistance. Prior to the move, I proactively reached out to my connections in academia in Australia, seeking introductions to their networks in Singapore. These valuable “warm contacts” provided a solid foundation for my journey. They graciously welcomed me, offered insights into the local industry landscape, and connected me with additional contacts in Singapore. Attending various networking events proved instrumental as well, where I had the pleasure of meeting incredible fellow Australians who generously guided me through the local job market, ultimately leading me to my first role.

How have you found creating a new network in your new home? Have you still managed to maintain your connections in Australia?

Creating networks and communities is key to successfully settling into a new place, but it also demands deliberate effort. At the beginning of my move, I actively attended numerous professional networking events in Singapore to explore job opportunities. However, even after finding my footing, I continued to engage with the community by taking an active role on the committee of a local non-profit organisation called Biotech Connection Singapore. This valuable experience not only deepened my connections but also exposed me to individuals from diverse sectors in Singapore, including academia, industry, and government.

The short flight between Australia and Singapore allowed us to fly home multiple times a year to visit family and friends, and I made sure to stay connected with my networks in Australia as well. However, the Covid pandemic presented challenges, making it increasingly difficult to maintain those connections. As we begin to plan our eventual return to Sydney, I have started reaching out to both old and new networks. Advance has also been a great support through their numerous programs for overseas Aussies!

What are some of the benefits that have come from becoming a Global Australian?

Living abroad has truly deepened my appreciation for the Australian culture and lifestyle, which I now deeply miss. It has also afforded me the chance to connect with numerous remarkable Australians around the world, whether through engaging with Advance or participating in events organised by the local High Commission. These unique advantages are special and a testament to the experience of being a Global Australian.