Biomedical science degree sets stage for international sales career

Cerissa French


By Rebecca Turner

Selling genotyping solutions for human and agricultural biology research and routine screening is all in a day’s work for Cerissa French.

Based in Berlin, Germany, the Griffith University Bachelor of Biomedical Science graduate now works for Affymetrix, a leader in genomics analysis.

Genotyping is the process of determining differences in the genetic make-up (genotype) of an individual by examining the individual’s DNA sequence and comparing it to another individual’s sequence or a reference sequence.

“I am solely responsible for the sales of a specialist and high throughput genotyping portfolio called Axiom which has both human and agricultural applications.

“Working with distributors in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia, I assist the distributors to sell my product by providing them with sales and marketing support including visiting customers and giving seminars, as well as training their teams on the technology and sales arguments.

Understanding the applications

“One of the biggest challenges in my role is understanding all of the different applications in genotyping, especially in the agricultural world which is quite different from where I have traditionally sold before.

“I have to tailor my style to these customers’ expectations scientifically and culturally as different cultures and market conditions make it difficult to have a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

“I try to overcome this by really taking on board the information the distributors can give me about the customers they work with.”

Cerissa finds that travelling as often as she does can prove quite challenging from a physical and mental perspective, however she sees the travel as an adventure.

“I like it when I can try the cuisine of the country or see something that is at least, not the inside of a lab!

“It’s so long ago since I studied at Griffith, but what I really liked about the biomedical science degree was the down-to-earth and approachable nature of the academic staff.

“I found the subjects engaging and at the time we did a lot of laboratory pracs which I think is so important in a science degree.”

Undertaking the Bachelor of Biomedical Science, says Cerissa, set her up with her first job as a research assistant, with the qualification certainly facilitating a fantastic career so far.

“Affymetrix has just been bought out by Thermo Fisher, which is a huge organisation. I’m hopeful there will be some career advancement opportunities.

“My goal is to get back into a leadership position in the next 1-­2 years, or perhaps take a sideways step into a marketing role,” she says.

“Eventually, I will probably come back to Australia where I hope my international experience will enable me to have the pick of a variety of roles.”