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New Networking Strategies For PhDs Who Hate Networking

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6:20 – Show Me the Data
25:50 – New Networking Strategies For PhDs Who Hate Networking w/ David Bradford
51:30 – How PhDs Can Get Hired Into Management Level Positions w/ Aja Isble
1:03:00 – Clinical Research Associate Track w/ Yara Pujol Lopez, Ph.D.

Do you struggle to see the point of networking and hate going to networking events? 

Ready to learn why you must invest in your network and how to make it fun?

In this episode of Cheeky Scientist Radio, we are very excited to welcome renowned networking expert, David Bradford as our guest. David is a proven business leader with over 35 years of experience. David is one of the most well connected people in the world (often called the ‘Human Internet’). He shares insight into how you can level up your networking strategies.
Plus, we have two more special guests joining us on the show, the Director, New Product Planning, Gastroenterology at Takeda, Aja Davis Isble and Yara Pujol López​, Principal Clinical Research Associate at NAMSA. They will will discuss the intricacies of their career tracks and how you can pursue a similar career.

About Our Guests

David Bradford is a proven business leader with over 35 years of experience in the computer industry. David Bradford is the CEO of FluentWorlds which is revolutionizing Language training in 3D Virtual Worlds. David Bradford has previously served as CEO and Chairman of HireVue and Fusion-io. Both companies reached the Forbes list of America’s 50 fastest growing Tech companies. In October of 2013, Bradford was inducted into the Utah Technology Hall of Fame. From 1985-2000, Bradford served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Novell, Inc. (NASDAQ: NOVL), where he helped lead the networking start-up through a series of acquisitions, public offerings and business development activities resulting in sales growth of $35 Million to $2 Billion. He twice served as Chairman of the Board of the Business Software Alliance, the world’s leading industry trade association for the I.T Industry. Mr. Bradford has been honored as the “Alumnus of the Year” for the J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University. Mr. Bradford has a Law Degree from Brigham Young University, a Masters in Business Administration from Pepperdine University and a B.A. in Political Science from Brigham Young University.  David has been nicknamed the “Human Internet” by his wife of 45 years, Dr. Linda Bradford. She and David were named with four other Couples as the Top Couple in America in 2014.

Aja Isble completed her M.Sc. in Pathology from the University of Iowa and obtained her MBA from Darden Graduate School of Business Admin, a Top 10 US MBA Program. She has over 10 years experience working in sales and marketing at Amgen, and in new product and strategy roles at Baxter, Baxalta, Shire. Aja recently accepted a position as Director, New Product Planning, Gastroenterology at Takeda.

Yara Pujol Lopez is a Principal Clinical Research Associate at NAMSA, a medical research organization speeding product development for medical devices, IVDs, regenerative medicine and combination products. Yara earned her PhD Neuroscience from Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München. She is a results-oriented biomedical scientist specialized in neuroscience and molecular biology with +2 years experience working in pharmacological clinical trials (Phase II and IV) and medical device clinical trials in the fields of cardiovascular / vascular surgery, nephrology, diabetes and infectious disease such as sepsis and pneumonia.

Key Takeaways

1. Your network is an incredibly important asset in your career. David Bradford outlines six timeless principles for networking your way to the top: 1. Start up. 2. Show up. 3. Follow up. 4. Link up. 5. Stand up. 6. Scale up. 

2. Business acumen does not mean memorizing business lingo. It is your ability to make sound business decisions and that ability only comes by cultivating a through understanding of how businesses function.

3. Clinical Research Associate positions include working in hospitals as well as managing the more administrative side of clinical research. This allows for CRAs to progress into higher clinical roles, project management roles and even regulatory roles.

Why Face To Face Networking Is So Powerful In Your Job Search  

Online networking is easy.

You can sit in your comfy clothes and connect with people on LinkedIn, it’s pretty great.

And these online connections can lead to wonderful opportunities, but the benefits of networking online are no where near as massive as the benefits of networking in person.

A study, reported by Forbes, found that 85% of the survey respondents reported that face to face meetings offered a greater ability to build stronger more meaningful relationships.

And 8 out of 10 respondents preferred in person meetings over virtual meetings, despite the flexibility that virtual meetings allow.

It’s just not possible to beat the power of meeting up with someone face to face.

When meeting in person you build stronger, more meaningful business relationships, you have the ability to read body language and facial expressions. We make all these snap decisions when we’re in person. We see people’s faces in person, their mannerisms, body language. It’s amazing.

Meeting in person allows for more social interaction, more bonding, more complex strategic thinking. It creates a better environment for tough timely decision making. There is less opportunity for distractions and that results in higher quality decision making.

When you meet someone via email, via a LinkedIn message, or even via video chat it is difficult to completely interact with that other person and you end up leaving a lot on the table in terms of networking with that person.

Whenever possible meet up face to face.

New Networking Strategies For PhDs Who Hate Networking: A Conversation With David Bradford

Isaiah: Can you talk about what it was like to reach out and hire Steve Wozniak? Just because we’re talking to a lot of STEM professionals who want to get hired. I’m just curious. From your point of view, it might be interesting to hear a short version of that story.

David: Actually this story illustrates some of the principles of my book. As you mentioned, I wrote a book, Up Your Game: Six Timeless Principles For Networking Your Way To The Top. I want to emphasize that networking, and this is the first principle, is all about thinking first of other people. I like to flip networking on its ear to begin thinking about other people.

And so I was at a conference, and there’s lots of background, and you can read about it in the book, but I was at a conference in 2009 in Sun Valley, Idaho. I’d done a favor for somebody who’d asked me to meet with his son, talked to him about his legal career, etc. And then his son came back to me and says, “Oh by the way, I’ve got one more favor to ask. Can you drive to Sun Valley, Idaho and give a speech at this conference?”

And I looked it up on Google Maps, and it was a five and a half hour drive from where I was, but I thought, “You know what? I’ll throw my golf clubs in the back. I’ll drive up, give my speech, play golf, and it’ll be a great time.” And so I did that, and I drove up. But you know, at that conference I gave my speech, and now I’m walking out of my speech. And a young man walks up to me, and he has some questions about what I was talking about. I took some time to visit with him. And as I was visiting with him, I saw a little white sheet of paper on a piano bench, something like that. And it says, “Keynote speaker conference, Steve Wozniak, inventor of the Apple computer.” And I went, “Oh my gosh. I’ve never heard Steve Speak.” And I knew Steve Jobs … Actually, he tried to sell us as company a couple of times in the late ’80s, early ’90s at Novell, but I’d never met the Woz.

And so I had a choice, and this is a definitive moment in my life where I could have gone and played golf, which I love. People that know me know I love golf, and I’m a low handicapper, and so I was ready to go out and play some golf. But then I thought, “Do I stay for Steve?” And so I stayed for Steve. I called them up, said, “Golf course, I’m not going to make my tee time, etc.”

So, the rest of the story is that …

Sit in the front row. If you are going to go to a conference, be present, sit in the front row.

And that day there was 500 people in the audience, but I sat in the front row. And I turned to the young lady next to me and I says, “My name’s David Bradford. What are you doing here?” She says, “Well, my name’s Julie Roebuck. What are you doing here?” And we started to exchange niceties. And I says, “Well, what do you do for living? She says, “Well, I’m Steve Wozniak’s executive assistant.”

And when she learned a little bit about my background, she says, “Oh my gosh, you’re an IT guy. Would you mind staying around to visit with Steve after his speech?” She’s asking me, “Would I mind?” I said, “Of course,” and so we visited with Steve. And in fact, as we were walking out of the audience … or out of the thing that day, he handed me his business card.

Now you can’t really see that, but I still carry it in my wallet to this day. And you can kind of hear it, but it’s a metal business card.

So if you want to be noticed, if you want to be memorable, create a metal business card.

Yeah. He handed me that. And I came back that night, and I’d just become CEO of a new company called Fusion-io. And I emailed him after our visit and I said, “Hey, would you consider joining my advisory board.” 24 hours later, Waz got back to me and he says, “I would be honored to join your advisory board.” Within three months, we’d hired him as our chief scientist.

Isaiah: And so I want to make sure we have time to talk more about the book too. In terms of those timeless principles, what are they? Why are they important? Why did you narrow it down to these six?

David: That’s a great question, and I appreciate it. I have observed the rise of social media. I was in the earliest days of the internet back the early ’90s. Mid ’90s, I was on a PBS special called Nerds 2.0: The inventors of the internet, or something like that. And so I’ve observed this whole phenomenon since 1980 when I got involved in the computer industry. And as I’ve watched that, I’ve seen the technology change, but the underlying principles do not. And so that’s where I came up with this concept of these. These are timeless principles, changing technology, but timeless principles.

And so my six, just quickly, are:

First, you start up your network by giving with no thought of getting. Like as I interacted with your folks as we prepared for this, I’m genuinely interested in them. I think God gave me some kind of a blessing that showed me some natural curiosity in other people. So, be curious, ask questions, get to know them. They will reciprocate.

The second thing you’ve got to do in your life is to show up.

The third thing is you follow up. Now that day had I just met Woz, and then not followed up that night with an extended email explaining our technology and so forth, nothing would’ve ever happened there. You’ve got to follow up, and follow up within 24 to 48 hours, then you become memorable.

The fourth principle that I like to talk about is to link up. And today’s world of social media gives us that opportunity to link up via Instagram, Facebook, Google, whatever it might be, in email, so forth.

The fifth principle is to stand up. Be a standup person in everything you do in your life. People will know that, especially today’s wild social media. If you create an act, or you do something that is off color or inappropriate in your life, people are going to know about it, so be a standup person.

And then finally, sixth, scale up. You scale up your network by working hard at it. The word network has the word work in it. So it takes time. It takes effort. I spend probably an hour or two every day connecting, building relationships, etc.

Isaiah: More and more companies are hiring in an automated way. Or they’re doing some sort of video interview before they bring people in, two follow up questions are: Number one, do you still bring these candidates in, in person after you choose the top ones? If so, why? And what do you look for when choosing the candidates? In the videos, what do you look for in general?

David: Listen, I’ll give you a quick example. When I hired my first executive assistant at HireVue, I’d gotten 40 or 50 resumes that came in. I narrowed it to the top 12. And the person who was probably 10th place on paper, if you will, from just pure experience, she’s the one who got the job. “Why did she get the job?” is because I saw her in that video, demonstrated enthusiasm for what we were doing, a passion for what we were doing. And you could tell she was a doer in life, right? And so, Sharline Andersen was her name, and she was terrific. And she’s been a dear friend for many, many years now, once we hired her at HireVue.

But the point is, if you demonstrate enthusiasm and interest in the company during that videoed interview, if you will, you’ll rise to the top of the list, even if your resume does not.

How PhDs Can Get Hired In Management Level Positions: A Conversation With Aja Isble M.S., MBA

Isaiah: I think a lot of PhDs have a hard time understanding how developing business acumen, how to speaking the language of business, can help them get into a job. Can you talk to us a little bit about that?

Aja: Yeah, so first of all, does anyone know what acumen actually means in this context? So business acumen is simply making sound business decisions, and you can’t really do that unless you have a sense of what business actually is and how functions work together. They types of decisions that you can be required to make and how that impacts business overall. So it’s really about in some ways, kind of harking back to what we were just talking about, learning a language is a language to business that you need to learn, and there are words that you will never hear in any other context, or there are words that you guys know that have a completely different context in the business world. So without having that kind of context or that background, it can be very confusing in the business world, and it can be very confusing to see how you fit and where you should be making decisions, and where decisions are made elsewhere.

Isaiah: Yeah, and maybe let’s dive in and talk about the biggest flubs that you’ve seen from PhDs or technical people who come in and try to have a business conversation but they don’t really understand what they’re talking about, versus someone who really digs in and develops that skill?

Aja: Yeah, so actually funny enough I was at a conference last weekend and I actually talked about this within SMBA, and I was sitting in a bunch of scientific presentations, and the biggest flub that I saw there was the complete lack of recognition by the presenters that were industry professionals in the audience who may actually be interested in partnering with them, and the work that they’re doing.

But they could not tell me why I should care about the work that they’re doing.

So I have a very different viewpoint than someone who’s going to be sitting in R&D meetings all day, if you can’t tell me the implications of your work, if you’re continuing on about R&D, then you’ve lost me. You’ve lost an opportunity to work with me, you’ve lost an opportunity to work with industry even from like a business development perspective. So there’s a little bit of the understanding your audience and then tailoring what you say and how you say it to the audience. I realize that that’s presentation skills, but honestly, it’s the thing that’s going to help differentiate you from your peers. So there’s a little bit of the soft skills aspect of this, but then there’s also the harder skills and knowing the language to use when you speak about the work that you’re doing.

So that’s a huge flub I see PhDs do all the time. Literally saw it for 72 hours at this congress, and something I would hope to help you guys avoid.

Isaiah: I want to ask one more question about mergers and acquisitions. We’re going to be talking about that tomorrow. Let’s go back to why. Why is this important? Why do PhDs, people looking for jobs, or next level job, looking for a higher level job than entry level, why do we care about this? What does it matter?

Aja: Yeah, so actually it was funny because right before we jumped on this I was thinking about the webinar for tomorrow and how at any point in the last eight years you could be asking me if I was impacted by a merger and acquisition directly, and the answer would be yes, that’s why you should care.

Because literally the minute you step into industry, you’re going to be impacted in some way by a merger, an acquisition, or a reorganization. It’s just the fact of going into this industry.

The reason why you should care is not just that you’re impacted by it, but you want to know how to navigate it so that you can continue to be successful in industry, right? So the way that you would work at a company that you think you’re going to be with for 15 years might look very different if you think that you’re going to be acquired, or you’re acquiring somebody else, right?

So that networking that you guys have been talking about in the last, this whole radio show and for months, right? That networking becomes even more critical in an environment where there’s so much change. So on the webinar we’ll talk about the nuts and bolts of what a merger or an acquisition is, but I want more than anything to kind of give you some practical advice on how to navigate through that situation, because it can be very stressful.

Clinical Research Associate Career Track: A Conversation With Yara Pujol Lopez, Ph.D.

Isaiah: Why did you want to transition into industry out of academia?

Yara:  Yes I was a bit tired of academia, the instability, the contracts of just a few months. I didn’t see myself as doing as doing a postdoc or being in the lab my whole life. So it was quite clear that a change was coming. Yeah, I wanted something else than just follow the usual path, or doing always research at the bench.

Isaiah: So you decided to transition, how did you eventually lock in on this specific career track as a Clinical Research Associate? How did you find out about it? Did you even know it existed?

Yara: No, I didn’t know. Actually I found it thanks to the association. So someone recommended it to me, and then I began to work through the different models, and then I realized there was a whole world outside, a lot of possibilities, and then I thought that the CRA approach would be quite nice for my type of job that I wanted to do, and then yeah, I got it.

Isaiah: What should we know about this particular position? Maybe you can just start by tell us what you do on a day to day basis. Take an average week, what does that week look like?

Yara: Yeah, there are two kind of days I would say in this profession. So the days that you are in the hospital, that you’re at your sites where the clinical trial is going, or you need to go out there to monitor the data of the patients, to talk to the doctors, to talk to the study coordinators, to train them if necessary. So that would be like the work you do when you are in the hospital. Then you have the days at the office where you are planning your visits or writing your reports after the visit, or following up with the sites if there are some issues that need to be solved, then you have some internal meetings, some meetings with the sponsor. So more like kind of admin work.

Watch the full podcast episode above to learn more about how to up your networking game from David Bradford, how you can secure a management level position from Aja Isble, and what it’s like to work as a CRA from Yara Pujol Lopez.

To get advanced access to the full length versions of these podcasts, as well as access to our live training webinars, exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the waitlist for the Cheeky Scientist Association now.

Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.

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.
Isaiah Hankel Ph.D.