From India to Australia…for polymer technology research

The chance to work with emerging polymer technology in pesticide formulation was the lure that enticed Dr. Harsh Vardhan to make a major career jump and move from Gurgaon, India to Melbourne. Here’s why.

23 years ago, scientist Harsh Vardhan left the University of Delhi with a Master of Science in Agrochemicals and Pest Management and began work as a research chemist developing surfactants for Agrochemical formulations and providing technical support to formulation manufacturers.

Over the next two decades Harsh completed a PhD, also in Aqueous based New Generation Pesticide Formulations, worked for National & Multinational  organisations and covered all areas of pesticide formulation development, applications and their analysis.

“I’ve seen advancements in environmental safety, made assessments of new formulations and designed household and agricultural products,” he says. “Any new technology is interesting but I always keep three aspects in mind: to make the formulations safer, cheaper and easy for the customer to use. The farmer should know what he is using and what benefits he can get from it; and, of course, environmental safety is paramount.”

One day however, Dr. Vardhan received an email from Brett Price, a Principal of agricultural recruitment specialists, Agricultural Appointments, needing to fill the role of a Research Manager in Melbourne.

Finding people with specialised pesticide formulation experience in Australia proved difficult in the wake of the global financial crisis. Price had to broaden the field, and searched the world, from New Zealand, to the US and Canada, before finding Dr. Vardhan in India via social media.

Price felt Dr. Vardhan’s experience, researching for pesticide formulations giant brands such as Mortein and Baygon in India as well as his experience in overseeing the development of pesticide formulations globally, would make him a great fit for the Australian client.

For Dr. Vardhan, the chance to be one of the first scientists in Australia to study Agrochemical (crop protection) formulations using polymer technology, was extremely attractive; attractive enough to move his wife and two children to a new country and culture.

After a long six months of interviews and immigration  Dr. Vardhan arrived in Australia in October 2013. His family followed a few months later. Dr. Vardhan says his kids were absolutely fine with the move and have fully adjusted.

“My wife and I still miss our relatives and friends and our social circle,” he says. “But the upside is the chance to see new technology employed in crop protection. After all, when you work on advancements in my field, it’s a major challenge to get them out there and convince customers to use them.  It is often fear and apprehension rather than the reality; somebody has to take the initiative or knowledge will be lost.  You may work on one advancement and it may not come onto the market for 20 years and that is 20 years wasted – you’ll be retired by then!”

Dr. Vardhan looks back on his career so far, and has this advice for other research scientists just starting out: “A research scientist is an important conduit in getting new advancements into practice and to do this the one should first refine their interest and decide if that work is going to be in the field, the lab or in sales.”

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For over 35 years Agricultural Appointments has helped agribusinesses of all types meet the hardest challenge: recruiting the right people. From farm managers to food technologists, winemakers to research scientists and product developers to CEOs, they recruit for roles right across the food supply chain.

“From paddock to plate, we know people: how to find them and make sure they’re right for your role and culture.” Dr Ray Johnson, Agricultural Appointments

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