Sunday, 30 June 2013

Mentor of the Month: Dr Tony Worby, Deputy Chief CSIRO

Welcome to our first Mentor of the Month post.  For the inaugural post we feature Dr Tony Worby, Deputy Chief CSIRO.

Dr Tony Worby, Deputy Chief CSIRO

1. What was your PhD thesis?
The thickness distribution of Antarctic sea ice, University of Tasmania (1989)

2. In a standard day, how do you earn your keep?
I manage CSIRO’s marine research across our three sites in Hobart, Perth and Brisbane and have overall responsibility for managing the marine research ‘capability’ in our Division. This includes our long-term planning and setting strategic research directions.

3. When or why did you decide to follow a career in your field of interest?
I enjoy managing people and programs, hence my move towards a career in science management.

4. Name someone (or multiple people) who has had a great positive impact on your career development, and what did you learn from them?

My Hons and PhD supervisor, Ian Allison. He gave me quite a lot of responsibility, coupled with appropriate support, early in my career, which is something I also try and do with early career scientists and junior staff. Also, a colleague Willy Weeks, who is the grandfather of sea ice research in North America. As a young scientist, very early in my career, he treated me as an ‘equal’ (even though we were at opposite ends of our careers) and I learnt a great lesson about being egalitarian and open to

5. What’s one of the most memorable experiences working with Antarctica?
There are too many to choose from.....working on the ice at sunset when the red and pink colours are reflected from horizon to horizon....having an orca swim directly under the ice floe I was standing on....flying around icebergs in helicopters....great camaraderie among fellow sea ice enthusiasts.

6. What do you think are the key issues/challenges of Antarctic science today?

The cost of research. Antarctic research is almost exclusively Government funded, and Governments of all persuasions are increasingly looking for a return on their investment. The cost of logistics and maintaining stations in Antarctica is becoming more closely scrutinised at a time when some of the most interesting research to answer big questions requires additional investment

7. Do you consider yourself a leader or a follower, and which do you think is more important in science today?

I consider myself a leader in the sense that I am involved in setting the broad strategic directions of our research and manage/lead a large organisation. People will be leaders or followers at different stages of their career. I believe many important leadership roles are informal.

8. As a manager, do you implode or explode in the face of adversity? Provide an example.

I have a policy of not losing my cool – at least not publicly. Nothing is to be gained by having a hissy fit. Some of the best advice I ever received is that we all have a choice about how we respond to any given situation. Saying “you made me do that” is a total cop out.

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