Lauren Celano recently moderated a panel for the Mass General Hospital (MGH) postdoctoral association in Boston MA about The Business Side of Science. This panel discussed how scientists make the transition into the life sciences industry and more specifically into the business side of the industry. The panel even touched on how scientists can start or lead their own companies. This event is part of a series of events that the MGH postdoctoral association holds to provide career development to the members of the association.
An expert and distinguished panel was assembled including: Abbie Celniker, CEO of Taligen Therapeutics, Alain Stricker-Krongrad, Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice-President Science and Business Development at Biomedical Research Models, Albert Luderer, CEO & Board Member of Integrated Diagnostics, and Katherine Turner, Chief Development Officer of Attogen Inc.
Below are a few takeaways:
The types of business careers could include roles such as: business development, marketing, product management, program management, strategy, consulting, team lead, scientific lead
An MBA is not required to transition into the business side of the industry, however an MBA can provide useful tools. There are ways to learn the business skills needed without a formal MBA. You can always take specific business courses or learn business skills from colleagues.
Scientists have many transferrable skills – ability to synthesize data, decision making, perseverance, work ethic, planning and project management, for those who give talks – communication skills and presentation skills.
Big companies provide structure and learning, while small companies can provide more learning experiences. Both are worthwhile to experience at some point in ones career since both provide a unique perspective and insight into which is a better fit for you.
Mentors are important in shaping career development choices.
Serendipity is important.
Have a plan – it can change, but at least have one to start so that you can use it as a guide.
Volunteer to develop skills.
Make yourself a "go to" person at a company.
Be flexible, wiling to learn new things.
Define your own path – follow your passion, surround yourself with a good team.
Business is a lot about relationship building.
The power of your network is critically important as your career develops.
Keep in touch and follow up.
Relationships are built over time.
Network, network, network!