Businesses today are heavily reliant on technology and data to drive growth. Because of this, the need for leaders who are able analyze data, understand trends, and construct hypotheses are in high demand. PhD’s possess many of these skills as well as other transferable skills that are highly sought after in the business world. Historically top consulting firms including Bain & Company, McKinsey and The Boston Consulting Group hire PhDs because of their ability to problem solve. With such a valuable foundation in place, trainees who learn core business skills (i.e., negotiation, strategy, economics and marketing) can bridge the gap between science and business. Below we provide a few examples on how to do just that.
Skills Valued by Businesses:
- Technical Skills: Data Analysis and problem-solving
- Management: Project management, process management–i.e. ability to improve methodology
- Communication: Ability to craft a vision & communicate purpose
- Leadership: Resourcefulness, creativity & determination
- Interpersonal Skills: Ability to work on a team and build peer relationships
- Agility: Ability to deal with ambiguity and make recommendations
Examples of Business Development Positions:
- Business Development Associate
- Strategic Planning Associate
- Market Researcher
- Project Manager
UCI resources that provide training, address skill gaps & build networks:
- UCI New Venture Competition. Formerly known as the UCI Business Plan Competition, this program offers UCI students, staff members, and researchers the opportunity to form a team, launch a startup and potentially fund their business idea all within five months. Most teams excel when there’s a researcher, analyst, scientist or engineer on board!
- Tech Surge Competition. A specialized track of the UCI New Venture Competition that utilizes UCI intellectual property as a core part of the business plan.
- I-Corp @ UCI. NSF funded program that trains individuals to broaden the impact of basic-research projects and develop effective solutions to customer problems. Participants are not required to have previous experience in business or entrepreneurship to be accepted, just enthusiasm to learn!
- Lunch and Learn: The Lunch & Learn seminars occur on Fridays and provide an opportunity for the UCI & Orange County community to learn about branding, marketing, investor relations, pitching, and prototyping.
- UCI Division of Continuing Education offers a variety of courses and certificates within Business, Management & Leadership. Many of these courses can be taken online or in the evening.
- GPS-BIOMED Business of Science Course led by SciPhD. This comprehensive 36-hour program prepares academic scientists to be “business-ready” for professional positions, whether in academia, government, or industry. SciPhD’s experiential “learn by doing” methodology provides hands-on training for participants to experience the essential skills valued and required by professional organizations.
- Lead & Mentor: UCI Grad Division offers a Foundations of Leadership series that connects graduate students and postdocs with a range of leaders from corporations, nonprofits, government, and higher education. Additionally, they offer a Mentoring Excellence Program that focuses on how to build and cultivate mentoring relationships across diverse backgrounds and environments.
Additional resources to address skill gaps & build networks:
- Bridge to BCG. Boston Consulting Group: three day summer experience where you develop project team experience.
- Mckinsey Insight. Insider’s look into management consulting at McKinsey for PhDs, Postdocs, MDs, and Post-MDs in STEM and healthcare-related disciplines.
- Managing Science in the Biotech Industry: An Intensive Course for Students and Postdocs. MBA-style case-based teaching offered annually by the American Society for Cell Biology. Attendees learn how science is commercialized and how to leverage PhD skills within industry.
- Business Principles for Basic Researchers featured article on Science Careers
- Leadership Best Practices for Scientists and Engineers report by the Management Research Group
- The Science Careers Guide to Consulting Careers for Ph.D. Scientists
- The Harvard Business Review