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

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Scientists who go to the field... and then run companies

As the evolution of our integration moves forward, I am slowly getting ready to move on in my career. I will be within the same company, but just have a bit of a different role. That means my current role will be open.

That means I have to hire.

I tried to just pretend that magic elves (HR possibly?) would fill my position, but it has been made abundantly clear to me that I have to "Back Fill" my position.

There is an internal person who might expect it, but that person has shown themselves to not be up to the job.

SO... the hunt begins.

I started by talking to a senior person who just joined us. He has been in business a long time. New to our company, but been around. Started talking about this and he just leaned back and whistled. "good luck, going to take awhile" - I looked at him a bit confused. Huh? How hard can it be. I need a Ph.D. with field based experience. An "outgoing" scientist who is not afraid to learn new fields. We have a bunch of them in the company doing a variety of things. Most too senior and in other fields to be interested in my role.

then it hit me.

1 Everyone above me is a Ph.D.

2. Everyone above me did time in a "field" role (application scientist, sales, etc....something where you are out face to face with customers and dealing with them WELL (i.e. you have to be good at it))

There are males, females, couple of races etc.... the absolute unifying thing is those two statements above. I want one of those people.

Apparently, we are rare. I know, speaking for myself, that we are expensive. BUT - looking at several companies, we also seem to do well.

The fact that I am surrounded by them is, apparently, odd. When I was interviewing, I was only talking to them. Apparently that is odd as well. When you look at the company as a whole, the "field" part rules out most of the Ph.D.'s BUT most of them are in the lab at the bench (or managing the bench people).

So - to the Ph.D.'s out there. If you have a desire to really move up the company management totem pole, I can say that it has really struck me in the last week that the number one thing you can do is get some sort of position where you are in the field learning how to deal with customers. Learn what makes sales people tick. Understand the sales process. really, at a level that makes you totally get it, understand how business gets money. If you get that, you will rise up the business pretty quickly. I personally am seeing that in my promotion speed, and notice that everyone ahead of me has that common past (and about only that as their common past).

1 comment:

Bill said...

I think a lot of PhDs are probably biased against "customer service" type jobs. I have to admit in my mind it would be hard to make that kind of a switch. Based on what you are saying, perhaps more of us should lose that bias if we ever want to make enough money to live well.