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Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

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Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby RGM » Sat Nov 03, 2012 6:53 pm

Hello everyone..sorry for such a lapse..I've been busy working.

So this is a tip/point of view I heard from a friend of mine after she was speaking with a senior level hiring manager of a company. I thought I'd pass it along to the those seeking/considering careers in industry.

She asked what were the factors that contributed in the hiring process. My friend is a PhD, in a research oriented position.

What the hiring manager said was "well there's a difference between a scientist and a business-minded scientist". Implying scientists are everywhere, but finding the right business-minded scientists is not always easy, and it isn't, especially those fresh from training.

So people, when you are looking for that position in industry, remember this, it's not always your research that is so important, it's also how you think.

Can you see beyond the bench in 90 days, 180 days, 5 years out both at the bench and in the business?

Developing that business mind will take extra time. Instead of reading JNeuro, read articles focused on the business of doing science, of making a product, marketing one etc.

There are many ways to go about this however.
"Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say why not"
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Re: Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby PG » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:56 am

However do remember that this goes both ways. I would say that it is more common that even mentioning leaving the bench during an interview for a bench position will hurt you rather than help you. Being perceived as a business minded scientist might in some cases be a good thing but I would recomend finding another way of achieving that than mentioning that you are looking to leave the bench.
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Re: Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby Suzette Lawson » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:22 am

I think it is absolutely critical to be a business-minded scientist at the bench.

To those not in industry, from my perspective here is what it looks like:

1. Business-minded scientists can define deliverables in a project and come up with reasonable timelines for meeting these objectives. Business-minded scientists can meet deadlines.

2. Business-minded scientists can envision a budget for meeting project milestones and stay within a defined budget.

3. Business-minded scientists can see early when a project needs to be killed, and communicate the justification for ending a project clearly to superiors.

4. Business minded scientists are in the habit of communicating their work in terms of dollars. With this process we saved X dollars. We met this deliverable ahead of schedule and saved X dollars, and so on.
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Re: Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby Rich Lemert » Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:46 pm

You don't need to be in industry to benefit from having a business-science mind-set. Even academics can gain from thinking more about their "bottom line". For example:

1. Business-minded scientists can define deliverables in a project and come up with reasonable timelines for meeting these objectives. Business-minded scientists can meet deadlines.

Academic scientists can also define deliverables and timelines for their work. Their over-all objective might be more open-ended (e.g. understand the function of protein 'x'), but the individual steps taken to get there are generally very concrete.

2. Business-minded scientists can envision a budget for meeting project milestones and stay within a defined budget.

Academic scientists need to budget in order to manage their grant's effectively and avoid running out of resources near the end of a project.

3. Business-minded scientists can see early when a project needs to be killed, and communicate the justification for ending a project clearly to superiors.

This is "a big one" for many academics. Some of them get so wrapped up in "proving" their pet theory that they fail to recognize that further work is a waste of time. Their don't seem to realize that their careers will actually benefit more if they move to a more-productive line of enquiry.

4. Business minded scientists are in the habit of communicating their work in terms of dollars. With this process we saved X dollars. We met this deliverable ahead of schedule and saved X dollars, and so on.

Academic scientists may not have the same need to talk dollars and cents - although it will make it easier to justify their work to the funding agencies and the public that is paying for the work, but they should be able to explain why someone should care about what they're doing. Even if all you're doing is something basic light studying gene functions in yeast, you should at least be able to describe how that work will benefit people working in other systems.
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Re: Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby RGM » Sun Nov 04, 2012 3:54 pm

I don't disagree w/the above. My mentor was very much like that, I was fortunate. But many grad students/PDs are not exposed to that way of thinking or even realize they MAY be doing it but using a different language to arrive at the same goal. When some of them reach the industrial side and hear such language they don't always put 2+2 together at times.
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Re: Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby P. Lues » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:58 am

Business minded scientists aren't only relevant to industry. There is a small minority of (usually highly successful) business minded academics too. They often have spin-off companies and collaborate extensively with industry. They fit the profile of the type of scientist that others mentioned. I would have loved to have been mentored by one of those when I was a graduate student, but they are hard to find so I never got the chance. I was in one of those "pet theory" type labs. Oh well... Never too late!
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Re: Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:00 am

Really great thread, thanks RGM . . .

In the many years I've worked for companies, I've never been asked to find a plain-vanilla scientist. It is ALWAYS the "business minded scientist" that companies want to employ, even if the work is at the bench.

Dave
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Re: Are you a Scientist or a Business-Minded Scientist?

Postby RGM » Sat Dec 29, 2012 8:04 pm

Dave Jensen wrote:Really great thread, thanks RGM . . .

In the many years I've worked for companies, I've never been asked to find a plain-vanilla scientist. It is ALWAYS the "business minded scientist" that companies want to employ, even if the work is at the bench.

Dave


Thanks Dave! I hope your holiday season is going well.
"Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream things that never were and say why not"
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