Industry Transition Spotlight: Ester Boix Garriga, PhD, Area Sales Manager
Industry Transition: An interview With Ester Boix Garriga, PhD, Area Sales Manager
1. What is your name, your full job title, and the name of the company you work for?
My name is Ester Boix and I am currently an Area Sales Manager at Infinitec, in Barcelona, Spain.
2. What is your favorite part about working in industry?
In this specific role, I have the chance of having a very good manager and being part of a very nice team, with a good atmosphere in terms of personal relationships. I feel listened to, valued, and that there is space for being proactive and asking questions. In this sense, I have taken the opportunity that I was new in the field and the company to ask all sorts of questions (even if sometimes I thought they were elementary ones) and in all cases, this has been beneficial. As the phrase says, “there are no stupid questions,” so the best is to be humble, recognize your limits and ask.
3. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
I start my mornings looking at my e-mails from my clients since I am the manager on several accounts in Asia and since they are ahead in time, they have usually already communicated with me before I start. Depending on the day, I can spend between 1 to 4 hours if I have several requests. Sometimes this gets interrupted if I have internal or external meetings. Then, I dedicate my afternoon to more strategic work such as reading about market trends in my territories, analyzing their performance, or planning what actions to do to boost the sales forecast. I had never imagined how much strategy and profound market learning is involved in a sales job (of course in a type of industry where we provide a high value merchandise).
I realize that this is actually the part that I enjoy most about my job, and moreover, I can transfer my analytical, learning and project management skills to a new domain which is sales. Finally, I review my mailbox in the afternoon. It is relevant to say that I have started this job at the same time as the COVID-19 lockdown and due to this situation, work travels have been canceled over these months. Otherwise, I would probably be visiting customers once a month as part of my sales actions.
4. How is your current industry position different than your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?
A job in sales is quite different from a research position in academia as a postdoc, even though I was also collaborating with a start-up company for my project. I am not in the lab anymore and I am working all day in front of the computer, except for internal meetings and calls with customers, and if it were the time, in situ customer visits. Here, although each area sales manager has to manage individually their accounts (and you need to be self-sufficient), the whole sales team is in the same boat, with common objectives and common actions.
Communication is also very important; I spend perhaps 60% of my time communicating, either with my manager or my customers. Therefore, it is also vital to have (or to learn on the go) people management skills, since managing well my customers is of capital importance for the business. I feel it is also relevant to say, for the Cheekies and all PhDs or scientists that might be reading this and are hesitating to reinvent themselves and start on a new path, that although I am not in the lab, I am working relatively close with the R&D team and marketing. From sales, we translate the needs of the market (related to trends and new products) to R&D and marketing, and this serves to shape future product developments. Therefore, although it is not a research position, there is a relationship with it. Furthermore, sales and marketing teams are key departments in decision-making in pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies in terms of projects to be developed.
5. 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?
I have to say that I was well prepared and also kind of lucky and the recruitment process for this job was quite smooth. Anyhow, my piece of advice at that moment, would be “think of what skills are relevant for that job position, how you can translate your skills as a researcher in skills relevant for this position, and how, besides not having previous experience specifically in sales, you can translate your past experience in something relevant for this position.” Fortunately, having had a few months of experience in technology transfer just before this opportunity helped me a lot doing this reasoning and demonstrating I was capable of performing outside of a research position.
6. What was the most important thing you did during your job search that enabled your success?
Networking. It helped me enormously to gain insight on different job types, expanding my network, and finally, finding this opportunity.
7. What is the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?
The most memorable moment as a Cheeky Scientist Associate was the big support found both in the R&D and SMBA associations, where I have been most active. Support from both the organizers and also many members, in networking tips, in resume and cover letter personalized suggestions, in mock informational and real interviews preparation, and a long list of etc.
8. What do you see as the next step in your career?
Thinking what is next… never ends! Now, I want to dedicate the first months to be fully concentrated on my job, and especially, in networking inside the company and demonstrating my full potential. The next step is still unclear since this is a very recent career path change and I still need more time to evaluate for how long I want to do it and what will be next.
9. How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?
I will definitely need to be involved in networking again, and of course in keeping updated with my resume and interview training. I hope I will find support and accountability on this, as I have in the past.
10. Now that you’ve spent some time working in industry, what is the biggest piece of advice you’d like to share with those Associates who are still executing their job search?
Do not lose hope. There are moments that are very difficult and frustrating during your job search, since it can be long. However, if you work every day on it, tackling it from the different angles (self-analysis and introspection, networking and informational interviews, resume and cover letter preparation, mock interview preparation, etc.) you will find your way. And do not forget that sometimes, as it was in my case, you need to open new doors and reinvent yourself. It works.
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