Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel
Isaiah Hankel
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join Isaiah and Alessandra as they explain what business development is and the strategies PhDs can follow to be hired in this field

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah discusses how PhDs get hired into business development roles with PhDs panelists who now work as business development managers
  • Next, Isaiah and Alessandra reveal how business development roles work
  • Finally, Isaiah and Alessandra explain how PhDs can get hired into these roles

From This Week’s Show… 

Why PhDs Make For Great Business Development Managers

Eventually, every single career track becomes a business development-based role. PhDs are rushing into these roles. There is a high demand for these roles. We will discuss what these business development roles are and how to be hired into these positions.  

Business development manager roles comprise numerous cross-functional roles as connecting with clients and locating the appropriate clients while simultaneously working with the in-house teams.

PhDs in this role have to work with the operations and R & D teams to generate study design. The experience gained as a postdoc and PhD is utilized to create the study design, analyze its scientific feasibility, and set timelines for flawless execution. It is the best of both worlds: client-facing, budget-making business side and evidence-based scientific acumen.

Business Development roles don’t require any specific experience beyond your PhD. In this role, you are not a transactional salesperson, rather you are developing a business. Understanding the metrics is really what accelerates your business understanding.

Why PhDs Are So Valuable As Business Development Managers

We know this field is very popular as we have seen a rise in the hiring of PhDs as business development managers. The scientific knowledge, client-facing skills, and experience of designing research study and communicating in scientific terms are few of the desirable qualities that make PhDs much sought after for these roles. 

PhDs are extremely valuable in this role because at the beginning, they design the study and are also the people that then build trust with the client. The expertise gained through lab meetings, grant presentations, PhD defense, seminars, and symposiums gives PhDs an edge with the clients.

The ability to work on multiple projects is equally desirable. It is always a different project,  a different study. This becomes quite challenging and takes you to think strategically; not only to design your study, but also to catch the attention of the client. PhDs are able to solve problems while innovatively research on the topic and speak in the technical language with the client when needed. 

You are talking with purpose to set up strategic alliances. You will be making deals that would profit two or more companies. The technical expertise that PhDs have is precious but you have to be very social, meeting different people, listening to their problems and answering their questions. 

It’s like getting to be a PI without any of the bad stuff, because you have a way bigger budget, and don’t have to think of the grants. You get to think strategically about how to innovate without restrictions.

How Business Developers Work 

The hierarchy of business development roles in an industry is: there is a head of business, then a manager, and a business development associate. Each department has this hierarchy. At the top, we have the chief commercial officer and there can also be a manager between the head and the business development manager. This is a promotion post. You get promoted to the position of the director in the department that you oversee.

There is a cross-functionality aspect to the job. For example, the decisions taken by the business development managers regarding product launch in a different country affects all the departments concerned with the product. Product introduction into an international market would need legal and financial implications as vendor management, type of regulation, cost differences amidst countries would be different. It is extremely important to comprehend and yield to the differences between countries.

You have to interact with different departments, organize and coordinate, at a highly strategic level. Even the marketing campaign might be different. PhDs in business development roles continue to take care of the product, seeing whether any amendment or advancement is necessary for product advancement. Project Management, sales, and negotiation also come into play. Altogether, it is a very large goal that mandates the use of business acumen, scientific knowledge, strategic planning, all while assuring the client and managing a cross-functional team.

** for the full podcast, check out the audio player above.

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