Philippa Stevens

Name Philippa Stevens

Current Job Title GM Science

Organisation Plant & Food Research

Academic Background Bsc, Msc(Hons)

My Story

Career path: I started out as a casual worker at the DSIR assisting with trials to provide evidence that fumigation treatments killed the phytosanitary pests of apples being exported to Japan. I moved to a technician position in the Entomology area, and gradually developed my career within the organisation, becoming a Scientist leading projects/programmes of work to develop improved pest management for kiwifruit and subtropical crops. I moved into a full time management role in 2004 (Team Leader) and finding that I enjoyed this role, made the most of new opportunities to develop my leadership skills. I became GM Science in 2009 when Plant and Food Research was formed.

Why did you decide to get into science? I got into science because I knew I didn’t want a desk job and I wanted to work in a field which helped the environment.

What do you like most about your job? I love working with smart innovative people.

What is the highlight of your career so far? I am very proud of the way our primary sectors have transformed their approach to pest and disease management as a result of our science, leading to pesticide risk reduction and adoption of new biologically based tools for pest and disease control. While this is not something I have personally done, I feel very privileged to have been part of the team.

What is your advice for women looking at a career in science? My advice would be to make sure you can get the basics right – learn to write and present your research well. Have confidence in your own ability and expertise, and make sure your very wise voice is heard. Develop personal connections/networks and never lose sight of the fascinating bigger picture beyond your own research area.