Life of a Consultant Series

From academia to consultancy – a journey of growth

When I started working at Catalyze in January this year, as a scientist who worked in academia, I was not sure what this job would bring me. As a life sciences consultant, I help my clients to write a multi-dimension grant application for attaining the grant money to bring their innovative technologies to the market or in case of early phase innovations to attract investors.

However, slowly I started to realize how fulfilling and dynamic the world of consultancy is. I already had the personal skill set to be a good consultant but, in my job, I am learning how to be an excellent one. I would like to share some of the skills I am acquiring or enhancing during my day-to-day work at Catalyze.

Coping in a dynamic environment:

During my Ph.D. and several postdoc positions afterward, I was mostly busy with one or a maximum of two projects per year. The study was based on one problem or related problems and needs one solution. During the first month at Catalyze, I start realizing that it is going to be very dynamic. Every month a new project or two, where you are not just busy with planning and executing the experiments or writing technical articles, but everything. Starting from writing the customer needs, technical innovations, business plan, commercialization strategies, sales forecasts for the coming year, and much more. To switch your mind from one project to another and master it in a very short period is what I learned at Catalyze.

Creative thinking:

In my Job, creative thinking takes a much higher place. It helps me think out of the box for my projects and present an innovation in such a way that a reviewer finds it as a pressing need for the market. Creative thinking also encourages brainstorming and listening to ideas from my other highly skilled colleagues which is highly encouraged at Catalyze.

Conceptual thinking:

To grab and develop the concept of the project and to find out if it is aligned with the visions of a particular subsidy is a skill I had difficulty to master in the past. As innovations have many aspects attached to them, to find out which aspect is the most enchanting and how will you leverage it is the key to draft a good concept. As a conceptual thinker, I have also learned to organize projects into their parts with clear distinctions on which part should contain what.

Effective communication/Communicating with different clients empathically:

The biggest part and the biggest challenge in my job is to communicate with different types of people. Some clients are very friendly while others are more demanding or challenging. Very often I come across clients who have difficulties with writing business plans, defining strategies for their product or technology commercialization, and drafting a budget for the project activities. I find it a big responsibility to help my clients most adequately and empathize with them through kindness and understanding.

Time management:

I am already good at time management and working as a consultant has polished it further. Team and Client Meetings, writing subsidy applications, searching for the right information for the right section of the proposal are some of the main tasks, I perform during my day-to-day work. To divide them fairly throughout my working day is another skill I learned at my job.

Ask and learn/Be dependable:

The idea to conquer the world alone is fascinating but in the world of consultancy, I have learned to ask and inquire. Every innovation and subsidy application is different. Ask around if someone else has the expertise and provide you some tips and tricks or has worked with a similar company or innovation. It helps to ask, communicate, and to collaborate.

Furthermore, this job is very rewarding which gives me the satisfaction that I was thriving during my academic career. The first project that I worked on was about treatment for an orphan debilitating skin disease followed by a project for developing a monitoring system to prevent early neonatal deaths in sub-Sahara Africa. Furthermore, I assisted sustainability-related projects such as making plant-based steaks (yummy) and re-usability of construction material for the circular building industry. Recently, I have written a project for COVID-19 diagnostics with our USA customers. This proves the dynamic nature of my job and that there is never a dull moment during working hours.

I am very happy that I work for a company where I am surrounded by people who are PhDs and want to make a real impact rather than to just publish in high-impact journals, JUST LIKE ME.

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