Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel
Isaiah Hankel
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Author Justin Bariso joins us first to explain the theory and research behind emotional intelligence and how PhDs can use it to get industry jobs. Then PhDs Elizabeth Thatcher and Yuri Klyachkin join us to explain their science liaison roles and how other PhDs can work toward similar industry roles.

What is emotional intelligence? Can PhDs develop and use it to get industry jobs?

Justin Bariso thinks that they can.

This week on the Cheeky Scientist Radio Show, we are joined by Justin Bariso, Author of EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence. Justin has studied Emotional Intelligence and combines the theory and research into practical applications for PhDs. 

We’ll also be joined by Elizabeth Thatcher, PhD, Director at Pfizer, and Yuri Klyachkin, PhD, Medical Liaison at Amgen. Elizabeth and Yuri will be talking about their respective positions and how other PhDs can move into similar roles. 

Skip Ahead To:

00:06:23 Show Me The Data
00:23:56 Justin Bariso
00:47:55 Elizabeth Thatcher
(Yuri’s interview is accessible to Cheeky Scientist Associates only – get on the waitlist today!)

About Our Guests

Justin Bariso is an internationally known author and speaker who helps organizations and individuals develop their emotional intelligence. His thoughts on leadership and EQ draw over a million readers a month, and LinkedIn named him a “Top Voice” in the field of management and workplace culture three years in a row. His new book, EQ Applied, shares fascinating research, modern examples, and personal stories that illustrate how emotional intelligence works in the real world.

Yuri Klyachkin, PhD, is the senior inflammation and immunology medical liaison at Amgen. Yuri is an accomplished medical affairs professional with over 15 years of experience in the fields of immunology, rheumatology, and dermatology including roles as medical science liaison for Celgene and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Elizabeth Thatcher, PhD, is Director of Field Medical Malignant Hematology at Pfizer. Elizabeth began her career as a medical science liaison in small pharma. Throughout her career, she has utilized both scientific and communication skills gained in her graduate and post-graduate experience, combined with expertise in Oncology, Immunology, and Neurology with an emphasis on novel therapies. Elizabeth also has an extensive background in teaching, training, and public speaking. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand both your own emotions and those of others.
  2. This knowledge allows you to make emotions work for you instead of against you
  3. The role of medical science liaison relies heavily on relationship building and networking, which makes EQ an important skill for any prospective MSL

Real-World Emotional Intelligence For PhDs: A Conversation With Justin Bariso

Isaiah: What does EQ encompass in terms of individual skills?

Justin: “EQ” is great shorthand for practical knowledge. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions. So that includes your own emotions – being able to take feedback, to grow, to keep your emotions in balance… But it’s also your relationships with others. Being able to manage those, being able to communicate in a way that others can understand, and be able to understand your audience. So it’s the knowledge – it’s understanding how these emotions work. 

And then it’s practical – it’s being able to put that knowledge into action. That’s the tagline of my book: making emotions work for you instead of against you. And that’s something that we all have to do. I mean, I’ve been studying this for years and still get myself into situations like when I respond to an email and look at my response an hour later… Then I’m like, Oh man, what was I thinking? Or I react to my kids or my wife and in a negative way. Why did I react that way? So it’s really a lifelong process, but the more we’re aware of it and working on it, the better we get.

Isaiah: Some people say that “EQ” doesn’t exist. They say it’s just IQ. What do you say when you hear arguments like that? What new research is out there?

Justin: You know, I’m a lover and not a fighter, Isaiah. To me, it doesn’t matter. And I’ve had people attack me on LinkedIn and accuse me of proffering pseudoscience. This is rare, actually. I mean, 95% of the comments are positive, but my response to those people is, Okay, explain to me more – elaborate. And by listening to them and having a discourse with them, I’m sort of proving that emotional intelligence exists. It doesn’t matter what you call it – you can call it “EQ.” You can call it empathy. The important thing is that we’re working to make emotions work for us and not against us. Nobody can deny that there’s been a point in your life where you have made a decision or you have said something or done something that you later regretted. And it’s because you were in an emotional moment. The amygdala is the part of the brain that produces the fight-or-flight response. That’s a good thing, right? If we’re getting attacked, then we need to be able to fight, flee, or freeze. But there are other times where we misinterpret what someone is saying to us or we misinterpret the situation.  And then we react in a way that we later regret. That’s what emotional intelligence is all about: recognizing those moments…

Medical Science Liaison Career Track: A Conversation With Elizabeth Thatcher

Isaiah: A lot of PhDs, we initially think of all the reasons why we couldn’t get into a position. Did you have any initial limiting beliefs that came up for you?

Elizabeth: Oh, absolutely. Every single job description asks for 3+ years of MSL experience and clinical experience. And I was a traditional postdoc. I actually have an engineering background, and then I got my doctorate in Molecular Biology, and then a traditional postdoc. So I was like, I don’t really have any clinical experience. How am I ever going to break in? Definitely a limiting belief, 

Isaiah: So when you first started to try to get into this role, what are some of the early things that you did on the technical job-search side (resumes, etc.), and what are some of the early mistakes that you made? 

Elizabeth: I probably applied to a hundred positions, just applying “cold” into the system. And you know, everybody tells you, It’s who you know in this field. But for some reason, I felt like brute-force hard work was going to be enough to overcome it, and I was going to be unique, and I wasn’t going to have to network. I was still a part of CSA at that point, but I was being hard headed. It wasn’t until about 6 months into it that I realized my strategies were not working. So obviously I need to change something up. I thought, Maybe I should try this networking thing. And ultimately, I ended up with 3 job offers in the same league.

If you truly understand the MSL role, it is a relationship-building, networking job. So it makes sense that you have to network to get the job because it’s sort of like proving that you have the ability to build those relationships before you even get the job. So when you get the referrals and you get references to people advocating for you for these positions, they’re like, Well, she can obviously do it. She’s already got people in her, in her background who are rooting for her and pushing for her to be hired…

Medical Liaison Career Track: A Conversation With Yuri Klyachkin 

Isaiah: So I wanted to know how you found out about the MSL role. Did you have concerns with the contractor role? And what is a contract MSL role? 

Yuri: I’m similar to Elizabeth. When I began, I really didn’t know much about the MSL world. I just thought it was such a far-off goal. I thought it was completely unattainable. But I started to talk with colleagues in the field. These colleagues were doing pharmaceutical sales, and they connected me to a couple of MSLs. Essentially, my networking really developed once I joined the Cheeky Scientist Association. And I met an MSL while I was presenting a poster at our conference, and he actually came up to my poster, and he looked at my research, and we began a conversation. Then we had a phone call and I asked him how he broke into the role.

And he said, Listen, I’ve spent two years trying to find a prominent role in the industry. The shortcut is these contract goals – you should really look into that. He told me to diversify my job search, so that’s why I started looking at contract MSL roles. The way these contract companies work is this: Let’s say Pfizer or Bristol Myers Squibb will reach out to a contract company. They’ll say, I need five or six MSLs for this particular project for the next six to 12 months…

** for the full interviews, check out the video above

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