Getting More PhDs Into The Board Room – The Cheeky Scientist Story

The academic PhD career track is dead.

The academic system is completely broken. 

Not too long ago, you could become a tenured professor right after graduate school. 

Then, you needed one year of postdoctoral experience to become a tenured professor. 

Now, you need 6-10 years of postdoc experience just to get into a part-time, contract or adjunct professorship.

Here’s the good news…

In industry, PhDs are highly valued, respected, and paid. 

This is the mission of Cheeky Scientist – to get as many PhDs hired into top industry positions as possible. 

Specifically, we want to get more PhDs into the board room because PhDs should be running the world’s largest companies, not be stuck in entry-level positions.

Today, you’ll learn why a PhD is worth it and how it can help you land a high-paying job in industry. 

The Cheeky Scientist Story – Driving PhDs Leaders In Business

Decades ago, PhDs were revered in academia. Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore. 

In The Cheeky Scientist Documentary, our CEO, Isaiah Hankel, PhD, explains that between 60% and 80% of PhD graduates are unemployed. Those who do a postdoc end up going from one postdoc to another for years – some even for more than a decade. 

PhDs in academia are overworked and underpaid. 

Hundreds of thousands of PhDs are stuck in academia working tirelessly to support a few remaining tenured professors and a handful of high-level administrators at each institution. Yet, they don’t receive the pay their work deserves. They’re tired and frustrated. One PhD in the documentary even described it as living with Stockholm syndrome. 

Cheeky Scientist was born out of the need to remedy the despair so many PhDs experience. We want to turn PhDs into confident and successful industry professionals. Our goal is to show you that getting a PhD is worth it, that it can be harnessed to secure a comfortable role in a career you love.

To do that, though, we need you to get out of the mentality that academia is going to save you. We need you to step out of the academic mindset and step into the world of industry so as to find your way to the boardroom of multinational companies. 

Why Getting More PhDs Into The Board Room Is Important

Too many PhDs think staying in academia is their only option after earning a PhD. 

This is simply wrong. You have so many more options in your career as a PhD.

In the documentary, Isaiah lists a variety of positions you’re qualified for as a PhD, including: 

  • R&D Scientist
  • Technology Assessment and Alliance Manager
  • R&D Project Manager
  • Quality Assurance
  • Quality Control
  • Health Economics and Outcomes Research
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Technical Sales Specialist
  • Business Analyst
  • Product Manager
  • Marketing Communication Specialist
  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Business Development Manager
  • Science Public Policy Advisor

…and that’s just to name a few of the careers available to PhDs. 

PhDs have the skills needed to fill these roles. CROs, the biotech industry, Big Pharma – they want and need people who have the knowledge and training you received during your PhD. 

A recent paper published in Emerald Insight found that companies with a higher number of PhDs on their boards “generate superior innovative output and more efficient monitoring.” This study is the first of its kind to suggest that a company can increase its innovative output and improve its R&D monitoring. It’s also the first study to investigate the role and benefits of PhDs in the boardroom. 

Why Employers Find PhDs Valuable 

Your doctorate is proof that you know how to: 

  • Find answers to hard questions: You don’t skim. You study. You had to in order to get your PhD. Employers love that you’re willing and able to look at a problem/question from multiple angles and find an innovative solution/answer. 
  • Learn from mistakes/failures: Science is all about trial and error. You must run multiple experiments to test theories and gather data. You can use that experience to your advantage. Being comfortable with failure and being able to learn from it are highly valued in a variety of industries. 
  • Thrive on collaboration: Most companies are team-oriented. Since you’ve worked closely with other PhDs, lab-mates, mentors, and colleagues, shared resources, and collaborated with them to get published, you understand the value and need for collaboration. This is a highly desired skill to work in a team in your industry of choice. 

Is A PhD Worth It? Why Your PhD Is So Valuable 

Many PhDs worry that the job market in their field is saturated with other postdoc graduates. Over the years, the unemployment rate for everyone has had its spikes. It’s no different for PhDs. 

A US government survey shows that the unemployment rate for college graduates is slightly higher than other workers (3.9% compared to 3.6%). The survey also showed that nearly 40% of college graduates are underemployed. 

And because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a higher rise in unemployment in 2020 than in previous years. 

Figure 1: Unemployment rates for college graduates and other groups. Source

According to a recent analysis, the US is expected to experience a deeper and longer-lasting economic impact from the pandemic than China, Europe, and emerging markets in Asia and Latin America.  

Figure 2: Counterfactual real GDP projections for emerging markets 2020Q1-2021Q4. Source.

Does that mean that the time, effort, and money you put into getting a PhD wasn’t worth it? Does it mean you won’t find a job?

Not if Cheeky Scientist has anything to do with it.

At Cheeky Scientist, we recognize that PhDs have great value to offer their employers. 

You’ve accomplished something less than 2% of the population can claim. A PhD tells an employer that you are: 

  • Hard-working
  • Tenacious
  • Dedicated
  • A self-starter
  • Willing and able to offer something unique to your industry

These valuable traits are in high demand. Unfortunately, employers don’t always get them from their hires.  

And that is why employers are excited to see “PhD” on a resume in addition to all the skills, knowledge, and experience you have to offer. 

Let Cheeky Scientist Help You Find A Great PhD Job 

Our goal is to show PhDs that they have nothing waiting for them in academia, unlike in industry. Industry can not only offer you more pay and greater stability, but also help you gain a sense of achievement by working in areas of immediate and high impact to society. By shifting the mindset and encouraging PhDs to enter the industry, we can get more PhDs into the boardroom of large companies.   

Cheeky Scientist can help you land one of the top PhD careers even in our current economy. By expanding your awareness of options, opportunities, and income potential, we can show you how to get hired in the pharmaceutical industry, biotech, or whatever field you want to enter. 

You need a plan and a specific methodology to craft the perfect resume. We’ll teach you to create a resume that will make potential employers single you out of the pile. Our team of well-qualified PhDs will prep you for job interviews. We’ll even show you how to negotiate a job offer. The Cheeky Scientist Association contains everything you will need to pursue a fulfilling career in your field of choice and guide you step-by-step on how to make your PhD work for you.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD Chief Executive Officer at Cheeky Scientist

Dr. Isaiah Hankel is the Founder and CEO of the largest career training platform for PhDs in the world - Cheeky Scientist. His articles, podcasts and trainings are consumed annually by 3 million PhDs in 152 different countries. He has helped PhDs transition into top companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Intel, Dow Chemical, BASF, Merck, Genentech, Home Depot, Nestle, Hilton, SpaceX, Tesla, Syngenta, the CDC, UN and Ford Foundation.

Dr. Hankel has published two bestselling books with Wiley and his methods for getting PhDs hired have been featured in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, The Guardian, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and Success Magazine.

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