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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jul 17, 2006 1:41 am

Please post your questions about careers in consulting companies in this thread. You may address your question to both guests, to Dr. Clare Ozawa specifically or to Dr. Greene specifically (if your question is about bioinformatics careers, post it in the companion thread).

Dave Jensen, Moderator
"One of the most powerful networking practices is to provide immediate value to a new connection. This means the moment you identify a way to help someone, take action." - Lewis Howes
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby Walter » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:52 am

Hello Dr. Ozawa: Thank you so much for being here for us.

I am at the juncture of either continuing in science or going out and getting an MBA (or finding an employer where I don't need one!). I've always thought that at some point I would consider a consulting career, because I know that firms often hire PhD's.

Can you tell me please what "pecking order" the PhD's are in at your firm? Do they rank as highly as MBA's, and is moving up in the company as easy as with an MBA?

J.
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby C.Ozawa » Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:37 am

Hi Jeanne,

I can't speak for all firms (since I don't know the career progression across all firms), but at my firm PhDs are hired in at the exact same position as MBAs. There is no difference in title, job, salary, etc. and the career progression timeline is exactly the same.

Clare
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Guest Host Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby J.M. Greene » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:52 am

I'll save a lot of typing - our bios are now up on the front forum page,

Basically, getting to SRA was a lucky accident. I was very unhappy at Gene Logic, which in my view broke the balance that must be maintained between biology and IT, with too much weight on IT that was not serving the customers well. My wife and I wanted to stay in metro DC, and I hit my network hard. A friend of mine, Dr. Ron Taylor of PNNL, had worked at NIH in the Center for Information Technology for a wonderful Section Chief named John Powell, CAPT USPHS (ret.). I cold-wrote John P., who was just starting up a microarray database project, staffed by SRA under contract. John sent my resume on to SRA, and after they and he interviewed me, I was offered the position of Task Lead on the NCI microarray database (mAdb) project, which has now grown to over 60,000 microarrays and well over 1,400 registered users at NIH and their collaborators. SRA has been a great place to work for the last 6.5 years - literally. We have been on the Fortune magazine List of "100 Best Companies to Work for in America" for SEVEN straight years. It's never been dull, and something new always is popping up. I never thought I'd be happy as a Gov't contractor, but here I am...

John G.
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby J.M. Greene » Mon Jul 17, 2006 8:58 am

It's a little different for me at SRA. As a scientist, I'm a little bit of an oddity around here,a nd bridging the two cultures is hard sometimes. SRA has Subject Matter Experts in many areas, and was smart enough to realize early in their 28-year history that you had to understand your customer's business domain to apply IT successfully. Still, I was promoted from Senior Member of the Professional Staff to Principal early, and certainly am treated the same as others. It's a point of pride that in my SRA tenure, the IT folks have not lost me yet. I can't sling code as well as they can; but I understand our customer requirements and particularly User Interface(UI) needs better, since I often use the systems we build. As time goes on, it will be interesting to see how things go - it is very difficult to be promoted to Senior Principal at SRA, and even harder to become a VP.

John G.

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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby Ted B. » Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:20 am

Hello and thank you for sharing your experience! I am currently a PhD candidate in Oregon and am thinking about my future career path. I am not horribly excited about academia at the moment.

When you started looking into consulting, where did you start? Now that you have some experience, what would you recommend as a good place to start researching the possibilities? Like you, I'll be graduating with my PhD in neuroscience (behavioral). I also have considerable technical skills (I.T., programming, and semiconductor manufacturing). Thanks in advance for your advice!

-Ted
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby MPB » Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:21 am


Dr. Ozawa, good morning. For years, I have heard people talk about careers in consulting at organizations such as McKinsey, but I don't think I really know what it is that a biomedical PhD actually does as a consultant at one of these places. Could you briefly describe some of the specific types of things you might do during a day on the job?

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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby J. Smith » Mon Jul 17, 2006 10:25 am

Dear Dr. Ozawa,

I have recently obtained my Ph.D. in Geology from a state university in the northeast US, and I am considering a change in career path to the consulting industry. I was wondering what advice you would have for someone like myself from a standpoint of marketing my skills to a firm like McKinsey and Co.?

I guess a follow up question might be: how important is the field that you obtained your Ph.D. in to a consulting firm? Is the tendency to hire people with applied sciences backgrounds so that they can jump right into consulting for a specialized industry that the candidate has some prior knowledge of? Or are firms like yours simply looking for "bright people" that they can train as generalists to consult to a wide variety of industries? The reason I ask this question is that my Ph.D. is not in an applied science area of geology (e.g. oil production or environmental), and so I wonder whether or not I would be seen as a valuable candidate to a consulting firm?

Thanks!
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby Emil Chuck » Mon Jul 17, 2006 3:48 pm

Along the various scientific questions that have been asked: do you have any insight regarding the types of projects consultants are assigned depending on their background in science (i.e., biology, geology, chemistry, physics, ecology, etc.)? Also can you comment about differences in recruiting those with baccalaureate, MBA, or doctorate professional degrees?
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Guest Adviser Thread: Careers in Consulting Firms

Postby Walter » Mon Jul 17, 2006 4:27 pm

Hi Dr. Ozawa: Thank you for telling me about the PHD vs. MBA situation at your company. Very interesting. I tend to agree with MPB on this one. I have a vague impression that I'd be interested in working in your kind of job, but I don't know enough about what it is that you actually spend your time doing. So, your response to MPB will probably be of interest to many of us. Tnx, J.
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