An interview with Elena Stavenschi Toth, PhD
What is your name, your full job title, and the full name of the company you work for?
Elena Stavenschi Toth, Scientific Officer at Axiom Regenerative Therapies.
What is your favorite part about working in industry?
My favorite and most challenging part of the job is the fast dynamic of the working place and realizing where my knowledge gap is. An interesting challenge that I find is leveraging scientific and clinical need with a business mindset where such decisions essentially define the business model.
Since I have the option to work from home, this gives me the flexibility to decide when and how much I can work, allowing me to take care of my family and myself without affecting my work etiquette and dynamic.
Can you describe what a typical day at your job looks like?
A typical day for me can vary depending on the stage each project is at: between visiting client’s practice to oversee the flow of a new procedure to researching and strategizing new projects with the stakeholders. Since I work from home, majority of the meetings are taking place during teleconferences or webinars, which takes around 10-15% of my week. The best part is, I decide what to work on each week depending on what projects are ongoing or develop new projects. However, this is currently a novelty to me, and sometimes struggle, since I am used to being told what to do, instead of thinking of what needs to be done to achieve a certain goal on a higher scale.
How is your current industry position different from your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?
I enjoy being treated like a professional that is trusted to oversee projects where I can exercise authority over the decisions that will shape the success of it. The ability to voice my opinion in a setting where it is not only heard but also considered to its full potential. The team always praising my efforts and the way I think, instead of being criticized the moment I voice my opinion only for later to be acknowledged.
If you could go back in time, to before you received your job offer, and give yourself one piece of advice or encouragement, what would it be?
To be more confident in my abilities and instead of wallowing in uncertainties, to plow through all those negative emotions and make a game plan of where I want to see myself career wise in the future. CSA for me was an unconventional method for determining a career direction and job search since from my high school years I was indoctrinated the same dogma of entering the job market and ‘acceptable setbacks’ during the job search. CSA approach taught me that searching for your career path is very similar to speed dating, the match has to fit both ways, or if partially, to know w
What was the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?
I was absolutely thrilled to get my first experience on the radioshow. When I joined the CSA, I was wondering, when will I be able to achieve that level of success to be on the radioshow like the other more senior and accomplished CSA members. They represented role models of how accomplished scientists with PhD can develop and progress industries, and not being taken for granted by bureaucratic academic system. So, when my turn came to be on the radioshow, I felt that I overcame that huge personal wall of being perceived just as student who just finished a PhD to a competent professional.
What do you see as the next step in your career?
Working in a startup, is giving me the overall experience of what it is and how to run a startup. As a part of the executive team, the whole experience is planting a seed of possibly opening or running my own business in the future. For now, I am learning everything I can get my hands on, as it is valuable experience regardless of discipline.
How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?
I found a lot of inspiration from reading CSA members Facebook posts about their successes and struggles. They gave me perspectives on different situations for networking, salary negotiations etc. and that is a valuable resource. Currently I am looking for a career mentor or buddy (buddies, the more the better :D), with whom I can discuss industry progression on a more personal level. If any Cheekies are interested to swap emails or phone numbers or meet over a beer, let me know!
Now that you’ve spent some time working in industry, what is the biggest takeaway(s) you’d like to share with those who are still executing their job search?
Personal branding. You are your own business regardless where you work. Tailor your pitch to the level of your audience. Only piece of criticism that I have received so far from my superiors was that I don’t say explicitly ‘I don’t know’ when faced with a question that I do not have the answers to. My own personal philosophy instead of saying ‘I don’t know’ is “What do I know and where can I find the things I don’t know.’ In essence, this is also part of my personal brand that I carry, and it is the cornerstone on how I tackle unknowns and progress.
The limit of your potential is as narrow as your field of vision. Only by expanding your mind to see your inner self, your potential becomes limitless.
To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career like Elena, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.
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.
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