Our Team Members

Isaiah Hankel, Ph.D.

Isaiah is a Ph.D. in Anatomy & Cell Biology and internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant. He is an expert in the biotechnology industry and specializes in helping people transition into cutting-edge career tracks.

Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.

Professional Background:

Isaiah did his undergraduate work at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and received his Ph.D. in Anatomy and Cell Biology from the University of Iowa. Since graduating, he has been advancing his career in cell biology and business coaching. In the last two years, Isaiah has given over 250 seminars in 20 different countries throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia and North America.

Isaiah has worked with numerous leaders in the biotechnology industry, including Lilly Pharmaceuticals, Leinco Technologies, Orflo Technologies, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Cellerant Therapeutics, Miltenyi Biotec, McCord Research, Expert Cytometry, Tree Star, Amgen, Celgene, Ambrx, BD Biosciences, Baxter Bioscience, Pfizer, Roche, and Genentech. He has also presented at Harvard University, Stanford University, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Cancer Research UK, University of Amsterdam, German Cancer Research Center, Pasteur Institute, Curie Institute, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, University of Tasmania, University of Sydney, University of Western Australia, and many other prestigious institutions.

Special skills:

Academia to business career transitions
Entrepreneurship and startup organization
Corporate networking
Product launch
Social media and online marketing
Confidence and charisma training
Public speaking
Time management
Accelerated learning
Energy management

“Finding your purpose in life is the first step to having the career of your dreams. Whether you want to work for a large corporation, start a nonprofit organization, or build a massively successful business of your own, it all starts with purpose. Nothing you do matters until you know where you’re going. Find your focus and happiness and success will follow.” 

-Isaiah Hankel, Ph.D.

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Cathy Sorbara, Ph.D.

Cathy has a PhD in Medical Life Science and Technology and currently works as a publishing editor in Cambridge, England where she is involved in peer review of scientific literature as well as writing and public speaking.

Cathy is passionate about science communication including translating science to lay audiences and allowing access of scientific research to the public. She also cares about strengthening the voice of women in science and, as such, is a steering member in the Cambridge AWiSE, a regional network for women in science, engineering and technology in both industry and academia. In her spare time, Cathy shares her passion of science with kids as a volunteer at the Cambridge Science Centre.

Professional Background:

Cathy received an undergraduate degree in Medical Science and a Master’s in Biochemistry in Canada. From there, she travelled to Munich, Germany and completed her PhD in Medical Life Science and Technology. Her dissertation focused on the molecular mechanisms which lead to axon degeneration in Multiple Sclerosis. Cathy then decided to try her hand at a career outside the laboratory setting and, using her passion in science communication as a guide, became a publishing editor at a top scientific publishing house.

Special Skills:

Academia transitions
Time management
Networking
Job application and interview training
Scientific writing
Public speaking and communication

“I understand how paralyzing fear can be when trying to transition into a career that is off the beaten path. I am dedicated to helping others find what they are passionate about and not letting their own self-criticism stop them from getting the most out of their future.”

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Klodjan Stafa, Ph.D.

Klodjan is a Ph.D. and currently works as a Sr. Scientist in the Research & Development department of Estée Lauder Companies, New York.

Klodjan believes that self-innovation is paramount in today’s competitive job market and in the personal achievement of success and healthy life style that comes with it. He enjoys challenges and embraces them with determination thinking that we have the inner potential to unlock tools that will allow us to solve key questions and improve our lives. Taking action for yourself and not allowing others to dictate your destiny is crucial if you want to bring up your own potential and develop it in different gears.

Professional Background:

Klodjan performed his BS studies in Biology and his MS in Molecular-Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Bologna (Italy) and obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (EPFL) (Lausanne, Switzerland). During and after completion of his Doctorate, Klodjan published several prominent papers in a variety of scientific journals. He got the Brain Mind Institute (EPFL) best PhD thesis in 2013 alongside with a fellowship from Swiss National Science
Foundation. This fellowship allowed him to perform postdoctoral training at University California San Diego, where he initiated and optimized solid protocols for induced pluripotent stem cell research from patients affected by familial cases of Parkinson’s disease.

Recently, Klodjan moved to New York to work as a Sr. Scientist for Estée Lauder Companies in their Research & Development division. Klodjan is passionate about R&D and innovation. He enjoys working with people from different backgrounds and he sees that as an invaluable tool for creativity and personal development. He enjoys self-motivation, coaching different professionals by helping them understand and reach their potential, reaching out to clients in order to help them solve their problems.

Special Skills:

Academia to industry transitions
Corporate networking
Lab Management
Stem Cell and Parkinson’s disease Research
Experimental planning and tracking (from dish to a product)
Motivational coach
Scientific writing
Time management
Fluency in four foreign languages.

“Being able to engage in new avenues and reinventing yourself in new challenges is detrimental for becoming successful, focused and confident. You be the one who takes action, steps out the crowd and starts your own journey without following someone’s else suggestions”

– Klodjan Stafa, Ph.D.

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Arunodoy Sur, Ph.D.

Arunodoy is a PhD in Integrative Biology and has training in intellectual property, entrepreneurship, and venture capitalism. He also has experience with global biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies, including clinical trial consulting.

Arunodoy is passionate about the translation of academic research to the real world and commercialization of scientific innovation so that it can help solve problems and benefit people. He possesses in-depth understanding of both technological and commercial aspects associated with the life science industry. Currently, Arunodoy conducts scientific and commercial due diligence for the healthcare industry. He enjoys helping startups, investors, and research professionals assess new technologies, conducting market research, and raise capital.

Professional Background:

Arunodoy received a BS in Zoology and a MS in Biotechnology from India and then worked for Accenture, a multinational management consulting company specializing in technology services. He specialized in projects relating to global pharmaceuticals, clinical trials, and clinical database management.

After two years at Accenture, Arunodoy pursued his PhD in Integrative Biology at Florida Atlantic University in Florida (USA). His PhD dissertation focused on two ocular diseases; developing a therapy for age related macular degeneration (AMD) and designing a mechanism of terminating ocular cancer (retinoblastoma) cells. Arunodoy’s graduate research has contributed to two patents, which were licensed out to pharmaceutical startup.

Special Skills:

Intellectual property
Entrepreneurship and venture capitalism
Academia transitions for international students
Green Card filing and Visa consulting
Advanced Interview and CV strategies
Job application and interview training
Communication training for international students
Public speaking for international students
Scientific writing for international students

“You owe it to yourself to be successful and happy, so no matter how many obstacles you face or how much negativity you receive from others don’t give up on your goals or stop believing in yourself.”

-Arunodoy Sur, Ph.D.

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Sarah Rodrigues, Ph.D.

​Sarah has a Ph.D. in ​Hematology & Oncology and currently works as a ​business ​developer in ​Paris, ​France where she is ​responsible ​for international strategic sales and developing new markets. 

​Sarah is passionate about ​biomedical research that is translated into products, bringing innovative solutions to market and improving global health. She also cares about giving to the minorities in both the local community and worldwide, having participated in a variety of volunteering activities internationally. Sarah believes that the key to professional success is perseverance coupled with a positive mindset.

Professional Background:

​Sarah received an undergraduate degree in Medical ​Biology in Brazil. From there she travelled to Paris, France, completing ​her​ Masters in ​Stem Cell Biology and​ her PhD in ​Hematology Oncology & Biotherapy​. Sarah recently transitioned into a business development and consulting role in industry where she is responsible for the ​strategic analysis of multiple biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies and markets.

Special Skills:

​Academic to industry transitions
Advanced networking
Cross-functional analysis
Strategic analysis
Business development
Business ethics
Time management​
Visa consulting

“You future lies in your hands. Stop living for the approval of others and commit to finding your individual purpose in industry and life. Do not make the mistake of trying to fix your weaknesses or fit yourself to a job. Instead, leverage your strengths and fit a job to you and the lifestyle you want to live.” 

-Sarah Rodrigues, Ph.D.

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Ann Grosse, Ph.D.

​Ann is a Ph.D. geneticist and business strategist. She is passionate about empowering individuals and companies to reach their full potential by creating a vision and taking action.

​As the client portfolio director at a leading CRO in Boston, MA, Ann leads a team of 7 managers in coordinating preclinical research studies for academic, government, biotech, and global pharmaceutical accounts totaling over $8,000,000/year. As a career consultant, Ann helps scientists and PhDs harness passion, find focus, define happiness, and land their dream job. Ann believes that everyone deserves the opportunity to find success and happiness.

Professional Background:

Ann completed her B.S. in Biochemistry at Denison University in Ohio and earned her Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan. She worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as the project manager for an academic-industry partnership to test small molecule inhibitor therapeutics in a novel preclinical model of late onset brain hemorrhage. Today Ann is the Client Portfolio Director at Charles River Laboratories and a Career Consultant for Cheeky Scientist.

Special Skills:

​Client portfolio management
Leadership & teamwork
People management
Public Speaking
Account forecasting
Business strategy
Client relations
Women in science
Creating vision
Taking action

“Every PhD has immense value and when you combine your PhD with confidence and professionalism, you can do anything.” 

-Ann Grosse, Ph.D.

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Nikolett Biel, Ph.D.

Nikolett (Niki) is a Ph.D. with a background in oncology, hypertension, vascular biology, translational sciences and preclinical drug evaluation. She is currently a bench scientist in a pharmaceutical setting where she works on oncology drug target development.

Besides science at the bench, Niki is passionate about patient advocacy and taking part in fund raising activities for various diseases. She has also taught and mentored undergraduate and graduate students both in class and the laboratory.

Niki believes that anything is possible with perseverance. Positivity, focus, hard work and patience will get you anywhere you want to be.

Professional Background:

Niki completed her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology at Gettysburg College, a small liberal arts school in Pennsylvania, and her Ph.D. in Medical Sciences, Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, from the University of Florida College of Medicine. She worked as a postdoctoral associate at the University of Florida Department of Pathology, where she was an instrumental leader in the basic research initiative to combine pharmacogenomics and induced pluripotent stem cell technology to pursue precision medicine in hypertension.

To pursue her passion for oncology and drug discovery for the advancement of patient care, she joined Otsuka Maryland Medicinal Laboratories, Inc. (Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals) where she works in research and development of new oncology drug targets.

Special Skills:

Academia to industry transitioning
Audience directed scientific presentations
Scientific writing and editing
Grant writing
Translating science to general public
Mentoring young scientists
Networking
Fundraising

“It is essential to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones, no matter how scary or awkward it may feel at first. Never turn down a challenge, it is a way to learn, grow and develop new skills that will benefit you both in your professional and personal life.”

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Jackie L. Johnson, Ph.D

Jackie has a PhD in Oncology and is the founder of JLJ consultancy, a management-consulting firm based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Jackie specializes in medical communication platforms for international pharmaceutical clients, academic institutes, and biotech companies. She has extensive training in medical & scientific writing from AMWA, EMWA, and Stanford University. She is passionate about communicating scientific advances to the public to address important medical questions.

Jackie believes that the best method to succeed in the future is to first experience failures head-on. She thrives on challenges and believes that personal growth depends on the struggle to execute difficult or nearly impossible tasks—like getting a PhD. She considers owning up to personal goals with a positive, can-do attitude to be the quickest way to realize full potential. Jackie enjoys hearing other peoples stories, and ultimately, helping others grow.

Professional Background:

Jackie grew up in rural Ohio, and then received an undergraduate degree in Biology from The Ohio State University. From there, she travelled towards the sunshine, arrived at The University of South Florida, and then completed a PhD in Cancer Biology. Her dissertation focused on the molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis and the role of nicotine in the process. Fleeing the research-funding crisis in the States, Jackie then went for a postdoc at the Netherlands Cancer Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Recently, Jackie left the bench to serve as an expert scientific writer and consultant for a variety of international clients including Novartis, MyTomorrows, venture capital firms, academic journals, and more. She enjoys working with people from different backgrounds, and considers this the most satisfying aspect of launching a startup company.

Special Skills:

Medical & scientific writing
Academia to industry transitions
Corporate networking
Entrepreneurship
Business development
Medical blogging
Professional branding
Online marketing
Visa consulting

“Sometimes life is tough, but so are you! You are not the byproduct of your past experiences, mistakes, or perceived failures. Instead, you can leverage these experiences to understand what makes you a unique asset to businesses. You can have the life and career you want if you only dare to imagine it.”

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Naomi Knoble, Ph.D.

Naomi has a PhD in Counseling Psychology and currently works for a global healthcare research organization in Boston, MA, where she conducts patient-focused clinical outcome assessment research. Naomi is driven to find solutions to improve health outcomes and promote effective healthcare delivery to give patients the best possible quality of life.

With more than 15 years of experience in counseling Naomi believes that professional success is found through total clarity in your life priorities, committing to resilience, and receiving support through a mentoring network.

Professional Background:

Naomi holds a PhD, MS in Counseling Psychology and MEd in Couples & Family Therapy from the University of Oregon. Passionate about research, Naomi received a prestigious NIMH Predoctoral Research Fellowship and developed expertise in statistics and research methodology. During her doctoral training, Naomi bridged psychology and medicine with an emphasis in pediatric cancer and neurodevelopmental disabilities and completed a competitive accredited internship in pediatric neuropsychology with the University of Minnesota Medical School. Recently, Naomi brought her commitment to excellence in research and patient-centered care to a global healthcare research organization in Boston.

Special Skills:

Academia to Industry Transitions
Networking
International Collaborations
Mentoring
Freelancing
Project Management
Public Speaking

“Your professional identity is defined by you, your aspirations, and the future you are creating for yourself right now. Your professional identity is not defined by your current job title, circumstances, or prior work history. Create the career you want and live up to it in every moment.”

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Amy Heffernan, PhD.

Amy has a Ph.D. in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, and currently works as a Research Fellow at the Florey Institute at the University of Melbourne in Australia where she uses mass spectrometry to investigate Alzheimer’s disease.

Amy is motivated to integrate advanced analytical technology into applied health research by building interdisciplinary networks across industry and academia. She is passionate about supporting the career development of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to reach senior management positions, and to mentor and encourage the next generation of female scientists at the high school level and beyond. Amy dedicates time as a volunteer for Women in Technology (QLD) Women In Science (Aus) supporting gender diversity in Australian science.

Professional Background:

Amy completed her honours program in Applied Chemistry at the University of Technology Sydney before pursuing at PhD in Analytical and Environmental Chemistry at The University of Queensland,Australia. Her dissertation focused on developing analytical tools to measure chemical exposures in children, and her research contributed to a national biennial population monitoring program in Australia. Amy is widely published in her field, delivering invited presentations for Agilent Technologies and the World Health Organisation, and is committed to using technological advances to improve human health.

Special Skills:

Job application and interview training
Project management
Scientific and technical writing
Public speaking
Government job applications
Gender and sexual diversity in the workplace

“The opinions of others do not determine your worth. Know your value, develop your skills, and learn how to market them.”

-Amy L Heffernan, Ph.D.

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Michael Smith, M.B.A.

Micheal is not only an Accredited Cheeky Scientist Consultant, he is a Henley Business School Coach. Currently Michael is the Director of Sales in Europe at Align Technology.

Michael is passionate about personal development for sales and marketing professionals. He believes that strong relationships and connections lead to success and that the best way to create them is to “GO NAKED”. Going naked is Michael’s philosophy that professionals in business and entrepreneurship should build authentic relationships with each other.

Professional Background:

Michael graduated from the University of Leeds after completing a BSc in Biochemistry. After taking up a sales role within a medical device company, he quickly established a successful career within the industry which has since seen him appointed to numerous sales and marketing management roles across three multi-national companies.

In 2010, Michael was awarded an MBA with distinction from the University of Warwick where his final dissertation focused on strategies for market entry. Most recently, in 2012, Michael completed his Professional Certificate in Coaching at Henley Business School. Michael is currently serving as Director of Sales, Europe. Michael loves coaching and personal development, and as such, chooses to work with a handful of individuals each year who are striving for improved performance on a one-to-one basis.

Special Skills:

Personal and professional selling
Corporate and startup marketing
Corporate networking
Corporate management
Coaching certification
Public Speaking
Time Management

“Life is a contact sport, business is a contact sport and ultimately it is people and the way in which we interact with people which will make the difference.” 

-Michael Smith, M.B.A.

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Aja Davis, M.S., M.B.A.

Aja is a M.S. and M.B.A. biotech professional, who is a strategist and management professional but a science nerd at heart. She currently juggles the many roles and responsibilities of a working mom and believes you can ‘have it all’ if you appropriately define your purpose and the ‘all’.

Aja is passionate about coaching you to realize the impact that you can have–however you define it–and ensuring that you have the practical tools you need to achieve it. Aja is a ‘keep it real’ type of person and sees value in helping you to be your most authentic self, always. She thinks that one of the most overlooked keys to your success is aligning yourself to people and companies that fit your personal values and beliefs systems. She also thinks a little grit and fortitude goes a long way!

Niki believes that anything is possible with perseverance. Positivity, focus, hard work and patience will get you anywhere you want to be.

Education & Professional Background:

Aja attended the esteemed liberal arts college, Grinnell College, and earned a BA in Biology. After three years of lab work at the University of Iowa she then went on to earn an M.S. in Pathology at the same institution. Aja earned an MBA from The Darden Graduate School of Business where she focused on General Management.

Aja has not only held several roles in sales in marketing management in highly regarded biopharmaceutical companies but she has also had opportunities to build and execute strategic plans for global, multi-billion dollar biopharmaceutical businesses. She is currently focused on a role where she is responsible for transforming the culture of an 18,000 employee biotech business. Aja is also currently an executive committee member of an early career professionals group at her employer.

Special Skills:

Cross-functional collaboration
Corporate marketing
Corporate strategy
Corporate communications
Public speaking
Professional sales
Leadership coaching
Interview coaching
Working mom

“I think my entire philosophy for being successful in industry and life is best summed up by this quote by Theodore Roosevelt, ‘It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds, we hope knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

– Aja Davis

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Karin Weigelt, Ph.D.

Karin holds a Ph.D. in Molecular Cell Biology and has training in professional sales. Currently working for Bio-Rad Laboratories as an Account Manager in the Southwestern part of the Netherlands, she understands both the technological and the commercial aspects of the life science industry.

Karin loves innovative technologies and to help people in science to implement or combine these new methods and technologies so both science and patients can profit of technological progress and applied science. Karin enjoys listening to other people and sharing experiences in order to find new solutions and help people grow.

Professional Background:

Karin completed her BS studies in Biology and her MS studies in Molecular Cell Biology at the University of Regensburg (Germany) where she also started her PhD. Her intriguing findings on microglial activation in the retina contributed to several publications in well recognized journals in the field of immunology, neuroscience and biotechnology. Furthermore, her work was supported by a scholarship from the Pro Retina Foundation and the results obtained during her PhD project were presented at several international congresses. Karin completed her PhD at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam (The Netherlands) where she continued to work on microglia and activation of the immune system and collaborated successfully within a large EU-project. Karin continued to work as a postdoc and Marie Curie Fellow within an EU Marie Curie Seventh Framework Programme which allowed her to work at a small spin-off company at the University of Cambridge (UK).

Special Skills:

Academia to industry transitions
Corporate networking
Professional Sales
International collaborations
Immunology and Microglia Research
Experimental planning (including studies with patient material)
Creating structure and a positive attitude towards problems
Fluent English and Dutch

“I strongly believe that a good mix of structure and flexibility in your life form the basis of success. Focus but don´t become obsessed, be open to learn when things get tough and you will be able to expand and develop your personality to get yourself exactly where you want to be.”

-Karin Weigelt, Ph.D.

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James McCracken, Ph.D.

James is a Ph.D. with postdoctoral experience who is a Chief Technical Director at the University of Louisville’s Diabetes and Obesity Center.  He speaks publicly, manages advanced training courses, and assists doctors and other professionals in experimental design and scientific writing.

James believes that fear and other limiting beliefs are the only things stopping you from being successful in business and in your personal life. He specializes in helping individuals develop the leadership skills they need to take calculated risks and advance their careers in both academia and industry.

Professional Background:

James completed his undergraduate studies in Biology at Emory and Henry College in Virginia and completed a PhD. in Microbiology and Immunology from Tulane University. After a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Chicago, James left the traditional academic track for a post as Chief Technical Director of the flow cytometry core for the University of Louisville’s Diabetes and Obesity Center. In this role, he coordinates training, experimental design consultation, data acquisition and analysis, and assistance with grant and publication writing for the Center.

Special Skills:

Nontraditional academic careers
Lab management as small business
Time management
Personnel management
Networking
Caregiver planning
Professional and personal relationship planning
Financial planning
Goal setting and tracking
Mindfulness meditation

“I want to show you how to make plans and how to roll with the punches when obstacles inevitably present themselves. If you prepare your mind properly, you can clear any hurdles that come your way.”

-James McCracken, Ph.D.

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Ping Lu, Ph.D.

Ping received his M.D. from Nanjing Medical University and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a prestigious Harvard University Research Center.

Ping is passionate teaching people how to be strategists, rather than tacticians. When you’re on a professional journey, you should always know your options.  Ping loves to tell the story of the man from ancient China who went into the mountains to learn how to slay dragons. This man spent his entire life, and every penny he had to learn everything there was to know about killing dragons. Then, one day, the man left the mountains and went into the city to be a Dragon Slaying Hero. But there were no dragons for him to kill. Dragons don’t exist. Professionals earning and holding advanced degrees face a similar challenge. After spending so much time focused on a very narrow career path, many of these people lose the skills they need to function effectively outside of these paths.

Professional Background:

Ping received his M.D. from Nanjing Medical University in Nanjing City, China before completing his Ph.D. in Immunology at the University of Iowa. Currently, Ping is a Research Fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a Harvard University Research Center.

Special Skills:

Academia transitions for international students
Green Card filing and Visa consulting
Job application and interview training
Communication training for international students
Public speaking for international students
Scientific writing for international students
Time management for international families
Scientific consulting

“Hard skills are not enough. You need to develop personal skills too. Young professionals, especially international students, should learn to not only work hard, but to work smart. Learn to work for yourself and never stop developing social skills. The best career strategy is one that involves confidence, connection, and effective communication. ”

-Ping Lu, Ph.D.

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