Vicki at Apple Park, Cupertino. 

Vicki Powell’s (2013) career has taken her from working in multiple health start-ups and product design engineering at Apple to co-founding her own startup. Now, after securing an MBA from Oxford, she’s launching into the most exciting phase of her career yet – co-founding a wearable technology company.

Vicki Powell loves the energy and passion of working in a start-up company.

“You get to do everything, whatever needs to get done; you’re imagining what’s possible and building it from scratch,” she says.

After over five years as a Silicon Valley product engineer, Vicki has this year completed an MBA at Oxford University’s entrepreneurial-focused Saïd Business School, where she put together a rigorous business plan and product development for her own co-founded new venture, a health technology start-up called Rythym.

The company will make wearable technology to measure health at a deeper, molecular level, where the early signs of poor health first appear,
she says.

“Our first product uses wearable biosensors to measure concentrations of different biomarkers in sweat, aiming to directly identify disruptions in the circadian rhythm—a primary cause of poor sleep and a mechanism driving many leading causes of death including cancer and heart disease.”

The next step after building their first prototype is a move to San Francisco, to raise capital.

The city has become Vicki’s second home; it’s here that she did her first internship, while studying a Master’s in Engineering at the University of Michigan, and then moved there to start working at Apple after graduating.

“That summer interning at the startup in Silicon Valley was a big turning point in my career and led to me working at Apple,” Vicki recalls.

Much of Vicki’s time at Apple involved working as a product design engineer in Apple’s sensor technology research and development team.

She describes her nearly-five years at Apple as ‘fascinating’ and says she learned a lot quickly, becoming consumed by the company’s high-performing culture, before deciding to embark on her own start-up journey.

Mechanical Engineering Prototyping Team, Apple Park, Cupertino.

It’s a long way from regional Victoria, where Vicki grew up splitting her time between Daylesford with her mum and Kooweerup, her dad’s farm where she spent lots of time hands-on outside.

Those practical skills, plus her love of maths and physics at school, led Vicki to enrol in engineering at the University of Melbourne. On moving to Melbourne and making her new home at Ormond College, which her dad also attended, Vicki began honing her leadership skills.

She was on the GC (General Committee), was the sports rep in her second year and captained both the Ormond College football team and rowing crew.

“Ormond cultivates an environment that not only challenges you academically but creates lots of opportunities to experiment with becoming a leader, I loved it” Vicki recalls fondly.

Vicki also joined the Varsity rowing crew during postgraduate study in the US and rowed for her College at Oxford.

“There are many parallels between sport and engineering,” says Vicki. “You put in the work together, day in day out, to chip away and get to a shared goal.”

Sport has also informed her leadership, she says. “You learn to work within
the different dynamics of people’s working styles.”

While Vicki has travelled and worked all over the world and plans to keep doing so, she says she will always carry a little bit of Ormond with her.

“When I think about my undergrad years, almost all of my memories are Ormond memories; it formed such a foundational part of my experience.” 

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