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Industry Transition Spotlight: Sara Artusi, PhD

An interview with Sara Artusi, PhD, Scientist Platform Development, Krystal Biotech, Inc.

 

What is your name, your full job title, and the name of the company you work for?   

Sara Artusi – Scientist platform development at Krystal Biotech, Inc.

What is your favorite part about working in industry? 

What I find most exciting about my job is the possibility to make a direct impact on patients. In my current position, I can contribute on a daily basis to the development and production of innovative gene therapy products to treat rare conditions. I can follow their clinical trials and witness their great potential in improving people’s lives.

What does a typical day at work look like for you?   

First, I check emails and upcoming meetings. I am currently in charge of designing and developing our new generation of viral vectors, so my efforts are equally divided among viral genome editing, planning of new cloning strategies, and best viral production. This is followed by bench work. I spend half of my day (sometimes more) in our new R&D facility and cell culture room. The platform and development group has recently been incorporated into “product development,” together with the pre-clinical division. This gives me the chance to interact with many colleagues, contribute to the production of vectors approaching new clinical trials, evaluate how patients respond to drug treatments and also learn from all of it. Being in a relatively new company, work is very dynamic, and I often support different groups such as upstream/downstream process development and contribute to different tasks like formulation.

How is your current industry position different than your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?   

First, companies are overall profit-oriented therefore we work at a much faster pace compared to academia. Work is not driven by a final publication – it focuses instead on developing and bringing a final product/drug on the market. Second, every experiment or procedure has to be carefully designed, validated and recorded in official databases/files. Third, being team-oriented and capable of working together with others truly matters in a corporate setting. It is highly expected and valued. In a corporate setting, moreover, I see many potential future opportunities for growth and to advance in my career.

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?   

There was a moment when I was almost obsessively looking for a certain position in a very specific and limited location. It’s certainly important to have a sense of direction, to know who and where we want to be. However, it’s similarly important to be open to the world and the opportunities that present themselves on our path, which at times is more exciting than what we were initially planning for ourselves. To my old self, I wish I could give this piece of advice: 

Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and take some risks. See and accept your fears – don’t try to get rid of them, but don’t give them the power to stop you.

What was the most important thing you did during your job search that enabled your success?   

I did not apply for this job, but I was directly contacted by the company itself. A position was later tailored to my skill profile. In order to get here, I changed my mindset and improved my networking skills. I started to listen, to be receptive to others’ professional (and at times personal) experiences. I truly shifted my attitude from how can I ask for a job? to what can I learn from this person? This was mind-opening, and it gave me the opportunity to get to know many professionals in a variety of job fields. Some later became incredible mentors and even good friends.

What is the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?

After publishing my transition story on our private fb group, I had a long phone call with a CS associate. She was interested in knowing more about my experience and transition. We ended up chatting and sharing many difficulties in our job search and networking experiences. I had the chance to help her a little, encourage her, and give back some of what I got from Cheeky Scientist.

What do you see as the next step in your career?   

I would like to keep learning and growing within my company, accomplish the professional/personal goals recently defined in my first performance review, and eventually obtain a promotion. I am lucky enough to work in a good environment that is very welcoming and full of support from all colleagues, which makes this experience even more exciting and fun!

How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?   

Even if I successfully transitioned from academia to industry recently, our private FB groups (CS associates and CS executive associates) remain an important resource for tips and suggestions that help show me how to best navigate the corporate world.  That is still new to me.

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?   

Take the job search as a journey, an occasion to learn a bit of yourself, your full potential, and to design your “personal brand.” A job interview is not just the moment when the company evaluates and screens you. It’s also your unique opportunity to test the company, environment and culture, expectations for the candidate and job requirements. Even if it is hard to accept and digest at times, a rejection is not necessarily a negative thing. It’s just one more step towards the position that best fits your skills and aspirations.

 

To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career like Sara, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the waitlist for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Isaiah Hankel

Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist
Isaiah Hankel holds a PhD in Anatomy and Cell Biology. An expert in the biotechnology industry, he specializes in helping other PhDs transition into cutting-edge industry career tracks.

Isaiah believes--from personal experience--that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life, it’s a clear sign that you need to 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.

Isaiah is an internationally recognized Fortune 500 consultant, CEO of Cheeky Scientist, and author of the straight-talk bestsellers Black Hole Focus and The Science of Intelligent Achievement.
Isaiah Hankel

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