Business award winner tells girls to aim for PhDs

Sharni Hardcastle in her lab
Sharni Hardcastle, PhD student and winner of 2013 Gold Coast Women in Business Award.

Sharni Hardcastle has as message for girls heading into university in 2014, think seriously about a PhD.

The 21 year old 2013 Gold Coast Women in Business award winner is completing a PhD in Medical Science at Griffith University and sees real benefits in aiming for the highest levels of education.

The former Varsity College High School (Gold Coast) grad is now researching Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) with the recently opened National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases at Griffith.

Knowing everything about something

“A PhD is unique in that you get the opportunity to direct your entire focus on what you want to do. A PhD also tells you a lot about yourself and can really cement your long term goals by allowing you to realise what you want to do and how you go about getting your work done,” said Sharni.

“By specifically focusing your research on a topic for a period of time, a PhD also allows you to become an expert in your chosen field which can benefit you greatly when it comes to graduate outcomes and future job opportunities.”

Unlike years ago, when a PhD almost guaranteed an academic career, PhD’s are sought after in all sorts of industries and Ms Hardcastle believes business, not just academia should be a focus.

A PhD for business not just research

PhD graduates also emerge with skills beyond research including; teaching, leadership, public speaking, project management, teamwork and often industry experience.

“There are amazing opportunities within any industry for a young women to excel in her position. I believe that hard work pays off and it is very satisfying when goals are achieved.”

“It was truly fantastic to be part of the Gold Coast Women in Business Awards. It was a way for young women to get recognised for hard work and it gave me a great sense of accomplishment and achievement.”

Solving the great problems of the world

A PhD not only puts a woman ahead of her contemporaries, but gives her a chance to find answers to some life’s great problems.

Ms Hardcastle and her team, led by Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnek, are hoping to find a way to positively diagnose and then treat CFS/ME, a condition which is suffered by thousands, often in lonely, home-bound silence.

Focussing on the immune system dysfunction, her research is the first of its kind in the world and deals with the most profoundly affected.

Next year they will open Australia’s first CFS/ME clinic.

“Now that will be exciting,” she said.