Dr Julie Bernhardt is passionate about helping those affected by stroke and has lead major trials on rehabilitation techniques. The scientist is one of our Real Role Models and answers our Q&A about life and work.
What is your job now?
Co-head of the Stroke Division, Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne, Principal Research Fellow (senior scientist), and mother.
Describe an average day for you.
Walk the dog, get my son ready for school (14 years old, still needs a prod), get to work, meet with my team, work on grants/publications, THEN open email. Work on urgent email. Go to meetings (science, management, executive, equality in science) – hopefully progress a few things. Prepare presentations for up coming conference attendance. Leave work about 5.30-6 pm, pick up ingredients for dinner, cook, chat to family, relax for an hour. Go to bed early ready to do it all again.
How did you get there? Did you wing it or plan it?
A bit of both. I trusted my gut, thought at least five years ahead of now and was prepared to be flexible. I worked out my values very clearly and have held to those throughout.
How do you manage the logistics of your career and your life outside of work?
As well as I can, but it’s tough. I’m lucky to have a great partner who supports my endeavours. I have rules about travel, and working weekends (only when time critical important things come up).
What is the easiest part of your working week? And the hardest?
Easiest – Meeting with my team, I encourage autonomy so it’s exciting to hear where they are up to. Hardest – working out priorities and sticking to them.
How do you think your younger self would view your current career?
Pretty pleased I think!
If someone else out there wants to develop a career like yours what advice would you give them?
Identify your passion and follow it, work hard but look after yourself and those you love (find balance). Be clear about your values and stick to them. Be generous in how you treat others, it comes back to you.
Have you got any anecdotes about your career or daily life you’d like to share?
My husband broke his foot, my son broke his leg two days later, and I had a huge grant to write. I had to ferry my family around to appointments and still make progress at wok. It was challenging to juggle, but we got there with humour, good people around to help, flexible work practices and hard work. I’m pretty satisfied that I got the balance right and got the job done … but don’t want to repeat the experience again any time soon!
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