Hidayah Shahidan has wanted to be a scientist ever since she was a kid.
She came to the School of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences as an undergraduate to fulfil that dream.
“UNSW is one of Australia’s top universities, and Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”
Hidayah most enjoys unravelling the mysteries of microbiology.
“Even though we cannot see these amazing creatures without the help of a microscope, we are essentially sharing this world with countless microbes.”
She still remembers experiments she did as an undergraduate, like isolating microbes from samples collected out in the world.
“It was satisfying as our team managed to isolate kerosene-degrading bacteria from seawater collected in Darling Harbour.”
“There was also a project in which we isolated Lactobacillus from a fermented yogurt drink we bought from the supermarket!”
After she graduated from UNSW, she returned to Malaysia where she continued her studies with a Master of Science in industrial microbiology.
Despite her move, Hidayah is still in touch with many friends she made during her undergraduate years.
Her masters led to a role as a research scientist for two years, before she struck out on her own, founding a biotechnology start-up called Zymeratics that made enzymes for industrial applications.
“With the thought that I can save the planet through green technology, I can channel my passions of science and business into something important.”
The strong technical knowledge she gained in her degree helped her build the company. She also attributes her success to hard work, perseverance, and always wanting to learn new things.
When she first ventured into entrepreneurship, Hidayah had little experience in science communication and even less in business. She initially struggled to explain her work to potential clients, collaborators and investors. With practice and perseverance, she honed these skills and successfully introduced products into the Malaysian market.
“It is important to explore, don’t limit yourself by working on things that are comfortable to you.”
“I would also recommend that scientists who aspire to become entrepreneurs attend start-up events and entrepreneurship training courses as much as possible so they can meet other like-minded people.”
Hidayah is currently completing a PhD in entrepreneurship and in the future hopes to see more impactful scientific discoveries bring benefits to humankind.