Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

More about hireing and interviewing for Science business

I have, as I mentioned previously, been looking to hire another business development person.

We posted the ad to our website, monster, and everyother job board I have ever heard of (and some I haven't). We got dog-doo for a response. I am looking for an 'entry-level' Bus Dev person. My version of entry level has some form of graduate degree or has been working in a relevant field (the lab, and application scientist, sales rep or something) for several years. Basically - can' t be just out of college. Ph.D. a real bonus. MBA OK, but better have worked in a lab for awhile.

I got responses from people with A LOT of experience. All of them unemployed. None of them hireable as their salary expectations were way out of line with what I can pay (high 5 figures + bonus). I talked to a few of them just to understand what the story was, and was really universally disappointed with them. I would have tried to make it work for a great person, as we have a lot of work to do and can fit people in a lot of places, but in general (n=5) these people were unemployed for good reason. They had worked at some large company for greater than 10 years and really didn't understand the rest of the world. They had 1 world view and weren't adapting. They couldn't break that mold in their heads, and that was a problem.

This discouraged me a great deal...

So I got a recruiter on my side. He got me 4 decent candidates pretty quickly - we filed them through phone screens (me only) and visits to the office to interview with everyone and their brother, and I have an offer out to one of them.

Didn't end up going with a Ph.D. - the offer went to a guy with a masters, most of an MBA (graduate in the fall from and executive MBA program) and a bunch of years as an application scientist.

Of the 4 - only 1 had a Ph.D. and she was, once I met her, unable to really put together a business story. She had the technology half under control perfectly, but fell down on how to think about making money at things. This was the feedback from all of us who interviewed her, and is a very common failing of Ph. D. 's. You just don't think through this side of things when you are a post-doc (what she was). I brought her in to see if she had the ability to think about it (and thus could be taught) and it failed. I was sad, as she really wants out of the lab but I don't think has the ability to think in a non-science way. This job requires both, which I am finding to be an odd mix.

The other 2 were sales reps, and it really came through that a sales rep just wasn't what I needed. They had masters degree's as well, but had drifted too far from the technology side.

I really hope this guy accepts (offer on Friday - answer on Monday please....) as I don't want to go back to looking for people.

*fingers crossed*


Anonymous said...

So I've been following your blog for a while now as I'm interested in business development. I have a few questions that are a bit specific/personal in nature - and while I realize that you're not in the business of handing out career advice, the answer may be informative to your readers. (As I assume that they too are interested in bus. dev.) So rather than waste your time with a direct email begging for personal advice for a stranger it's probably more appropriate to ask in the public forum.

My question is this: given my below (intentionally ambiguous) qualifications, if I had applied for your position, would my resume have passed the initial screen? Or would someone of my background be considered 'under qualified' for your position from the outset?

I'm currently in a Tier-I PhD program in molecular biology. If I were closer to graduation you would have gotten my resume, but alas, I am still at least a year away. Prior to coming back to school I got an MBA and worked in corporate (technology/non-biotech) finance for a few years. Prior to that I worked as a tech in academic medical research.

I realize that there is a vast amount of detail that I have not provided you that would be needed to make this decision in reality. So my basic question is this: you've stated many times that 'industry experience' in both business and science is a prerequisite for an entry level business development position. Would non-biotech business experience satisfy this requirement from the business side? Is a PhD without a postdoc or industry scientist position adequate to be considered for an entry level business development position? While I realize that you are only familiar with your situation specifically, your recent hiring exercise makes you by definition privy to the general state of this job market.

My situation is this: I returned to get the PhD after realizing that I wanted to work in biotech business development - the degree is in effect the world's longest resume builder. As I approach the end of my program I am beginning to get offers for postdoc positions, yet, I am not interested in remaining at the bench long term. (Indeed, I never was - my interest has always been more on the business side. But early on I realized that biotech is dominated by the PhD - it's a requirement for most higher level jobs. So off I went into the world of scientists.)

On one hand, spending another few years at the bench seems like overkill if not a step in the wrong direction. On the other, if a PhD isn't alone adequate to get where I need to go then I guess then I'm headed for more bench work - either as a postdoc or scientist of some sort. (Although I suppose that this wouldn't be altogether bad, I'm just not sure that it'd be optimal given my goals.)

Anyway, while any light you could shed on this rather specific situation would be helpful to me I think that it'd be helpful for others as well - there is always a lack of frank real world career advice out there, particularly for less common career tracks.

yes said...

answered in post on blog

Anonymous said...

Hi :)

I just found your blog and had a great time reading it- very realistic and hilarious...and yet also informative!

Ok so I've been a postdoc for 3 years now and just got a call from a recruiter re a Fields Application Scientist position. The salary they suggested sounds great- but that's because I'm in academia and not making so much.

So i need to ask you for some advice- I think this position fits me very well and I'm also confident that I can add value to this company.

So based on 3 years postdoc experience, 19 publications, great track record for oral presentations and also a good personality- is $80K a good salary for 70% traveling? From a postdocs point of view this is fabulous but is this salary competitive for the job it self?

I cant seem to find any info of what this type of position pays- all they say is its negotiable! Negotiable is a great term because I negotiated my salary for the postdoc and it is $7K higher than the other two postdocs!

Also can you talk a bit about other areas for negotiations ie vacation, signing bonuses, benefits?

Thanks in advance :)

DAPI said...

DAPIBLOGS here- I just discovered your blog and enjoyed reading your insightful info! Very realistic and funny :)

Ok i have a question for you and I hope you can help me!

I've been a postdoc of 3 years now and just got a call from a recruiter re an Field Applications Scientist position. They wound excited and Im waiting to hear more. Im doing my research on the company now.

From a postdoc point of view the salary SOUNDS fantastic- $80K with 70% traveling. Only problem is that I dont know if this salary is competive and appropriate for similar jobs in this field.

1) How do i find out what the AVERAGE range is for such a job

2) How negotiable is salary for such a job? I negotiated my salary for this postdoc and i got $8K more. I believed i had a better CV than the average postdoc and my PI agreed. But hey this offer is $40K more than what im on now..

3) Can you tell me about signing bonuses, how they work, what about negotiating vacation and benefits?

Basically i need to know how to get the best package for this position.

Now about me,
-3 years postdoc experience,
-19 publications (yes i worked hard during my PhD and got 19 pubs)
-proven record of managing, purchasing and negotiation purchases
-proven record of recruiting sponsorship for conferences
-great networker, business minded

So basically I want to know if the $80K salary is good or should i negotiate for a higher price?

Please enlighten me!

Thanking you in advance!

yes said...

These comments answered in new posting that will go up in a few minutes.