Keynote speaker

Dr Sarah Dods

Dr Sarah Dods

Dr Sarah Dods is the General Manager for eHealth Solutions with Telstra Health, a new arm of Telstra with a mission to make healthcare simpler, developing solutions to build a better connected health system. Her portfolio includes tools to improve the accuracy and currency of health provider information across hospitals and healthcare organisations; and secure messaging solutions to facilitate the safe exchange of discharge summaries, referrals and other patient information across the health system.

Dr Dods was previously with CSIRO in various roles, including implementing CSIRO’s new entrepreneurship and innovation program (CSIRO ON), and leading research programs into the Digital Economy, and Health Service Delivery.  Her career spans Australia’s innovation system across high-tech startups, public and private research organisations, telecoms, IT & resources innovation, business development and commercialisation.  This smorgasbord includes 13 years as an academic, researching optical broadband network engineering (think NBN), which culminated in co-founding Monitoring Division, NICTA’s first Victorian spin out.

Sarah’s deep passion is in realising economic and social value from technology advances; to bridge the gap between research challenges, market opportunities, and implementable solutions to create value and make a difference for everyday Australians and our businesses. She is a fan of life-long learning, a believer in the value of diversity, and an incurable optimist.

Dr Dods’ qualifications include a BSc (Hons) in Physics and a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, both from the University of Melbourne.  She is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a Senior Member of the IEEE. Sarah is also a Member of the Australian National Committee to the IEC (Standards Australia) since 2016, and is a State and National Judge for the iAwards Australia since 2014.

Presentation: Customer is not a dirty word (and why you need them to do research that makes a difference)

Most of us want to do something in our work that makes a difference.  In research, we believe the difference we make is from solving problems—big or small. The challenge is that our solutions don’t make a difference unless they get out of the lab—and that happens through a customer.  A significant gap between academic and corporate thinking is the articulation of problems and solutions in a way that is meaningful to customers and a market. 

This presentation will discuss this gap, and suggest strategies to close it.  Sarah will look to provide research students with insights on how to ask the right questions to find out who their customer is: who values the solution to the problem being tackled, and what the solution needs to look like for them to be able to use it.  Drawing on examples from her own experiences, she will walk through how research and development can lead to introducing new products in a market.