Each Friday we post a new v i s t a profile, a career beyond the academy story (use the tags at the bottom of the post to find the entire list). These posts accompany our curated events to support post-PhD career transitions, v i s t a mentoring, and also #sheffvista on Twitter.
Approximate salary range for your type of role: £40-60k (more information here)
I read for a BSc. in Genetics and Molecular Cell Biology and PhD in Cardiovascular Science at the University of Sheffield. During my PhD I became increasingly interested in translating research into real and tenable commercial solutions. The impact of academic research can be very long term, and my motivation to move out of academia partly stemmed form the need to see the impact of my work forthwith. I also wanted to move into a role that opened my career options and after speaking to some friends about their career moves, I was introduced to the idea of pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting.
My first role straight out of a PhD was as an Associate at a life sciences competitive strategy consultancy where I helped pharmaceutical and medical device companies identify opportunities and competitive risk in various therapeutic areas across various markets.
I supported clients to identify opportunities for clinical development, manage complex regulatory challenges, design and implement product launch strategies across different markets, and conduct competitive landscaping in various therapeutic areas.
I particularly enjoyed attending medical and scientific conferences to identify unmet therapeutic needs in various disease areas and assess how the pharmaceutical industry was addressing these requirements. This allowed me to travel around the globe, meet various scientific leaders and explore disciplines beyond the topics of my PhD.
I also learnt to conduct ‘so what?’ analysis, assess the commercial implications of market developments and drive strategic recommendations to my clients.
I later joined the Healthcare and Lifesciences Risk Analytics team at Deloitte. Here I use various data analytics tools to help clients assess risk in their R&D, clinical development and commercial strategies. I find the inter-disciplinary aspect of this job very interesting and highly engaging. I work with people with differing expertise that come together to solve complex client problems. I also enjoy interacting with key decision makers both at my clients and within my firm.
Consulting is varied, very fast paced and continually challenging, but can also be intense and from time to time may require longer working hours. The ‘no day is like the next’ may very much sound like a cliché but it is a fact of life in consulting and this can take a while to get used to. Consulting often requires a significant amount of travel and while it may allow you to see the world, you often need to work on the move. Thus, consulting tends to attract the self-driven types, people that are happy to build and maintain networks and manage their own work life balance.
It is not essential to have a PhD to work in consulting, especially for larger firms, but academic research experience is definitively a plus. The misconception that skills gained during your PhD are only useful in a research lab or within an academic institution can make the move to industry daunting. Nevertheless, I feel that the fear of moving from academia to industry often stems from being surrounded by very bright academics who may have only limited experience working in industry, especially outside of their area of expertise.
Consulting experience can open the door to a variety of other industry careers in business intelligence, business development, strategy and operations management, both in the private and public sectors.
My career tip to researchers leaving academia is simple; be humble, be curious, be adventurous.
Where can researchers look for jobs like yours?