E005 How Do Jobs in Public-Private Space Look? PhDs in Business Development: Do You Need MBA Title?
June 7th 2020
Dr Ian Cameron works at the exciting interface between academia, entrepreneurship, industry, and society. Ian holds an impressive combination of positions: at the same time, he works as a coordinator at NeuroTech-NL, as a Domain Expert, Mental/Cognitive Health & Well-being, Precision Health & Nutrition, OnePlanet at OnePlanet Research Centre, and a Senior Researcher at the Donders Institute for Brain Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, and a Senior Researcher at the Biomedical Signals and Systems, University of Twente.
He is driven toward the societal applications of neuroscience and psychological research and brings management and entrepreneurial practices to academia. Ian enjoys working in multidisciplinary and team-based environments involving people from diverse organizations and backgrounds. Ian has an MBA from TIAS School for Business and Society, in the Netherlands, where he wrote his management thesis about the alignment of culture, structure, and strategy to achieve societal impact from research.
Beforehand, Ian earned his PhD from Queen’s University, in Canada, and did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, both involving human neuroimaging and behavioural studies. As a researcher, he is interested in big-picture questions that connect neuroscience discoveries to clinical and societal applications. Specifically, Ian specializes in cognition and sensory-motor control in movement disorders, making use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and eye-tracking techniques. In this webinar, Ian told us how to juggle a few jobs at a time, what new opportunities for researchers currently emerge in the private-public space, and whether it is compulsory to get an MBA title to work as a business developer.
Ian’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iangmcameron/
The episode was recorded on 7th June 2020. This material represents the speaker’s personal views and not the views of their current or former employer(s).
Natalia 00:10 Welcome, Ian, it’s great to have you. I met with Ian, while I was doing my PhD studies. And Ian was working as a senior researcher at the Donders Institute. Currently, he holds an impressive portfolio of four jobs, which is amazing. Today, I would like to know more about his self-management routines. Thank you so much, Ian, for accepting the invitation. And please tell us about your story. How did it all starts? How did you arrive in the Netherlands? What happened before? And how did your story look so far?
Ian Cameron 00:56 Thanks, Natalia for inviting me to join. I’m happy to start with a bit of a background on who I am and how I ended up here in the Netherlands. So, I’m Canadian. And I had originally studied what was called Life Science in Canada and that would be the equivalent here in the Netherlands to biomedical science. Like many people, I thought of careers in medicine or health care. And then halfway through, I discovered I like the brain. I like vision and hearing and kind of perception and how the brain works.
I decided to become that graduate student and do a master’s and then a PhD. I was excited. I think as many people hear about research, the topic of the brain was exciting. But the other thing that I liked is I was excited about how the research was done and could be done. I liked the idea of all these people that you have medicine and engineering and you have psychology combined. There are all these MRIs going at the functional level. It was a very cool time to be doing research.
I also liked how universities worked. I was very much interested in a kind of career within a research system because it was fascinating, both as a topic, but also as an exciting place to work. While I was doing my PhD, I realized that what was driving me was not just the scientific questions, but also kind of just being part of this team science and this kind of collaborative efforts towards making discoveries and trying to help society.
I found that exciting. The lab that I worked in was diverse. They had a lot of different people with different skills there. We had engineers, we had programmers, and we had lab managers, and we worked with medical doctors. It was really good. And what I studied was functional neuroimaging related to using eye movements to understand movement disorders and how do we control behavior. At that point, I knew I wanted to work in research.
I knew that there were steps you had to do to work in research for the long term, which probably you being a professor, needed to get your PhD, and then you needed to do a postdoc and so on. I started with PhD and afterward looked for a postdoc, and I found a nice one at UC Berkeley. I got great with the lab. And I learned some new skills. I learned transcranial magnetic stimulation to try to perturb the human brain, and then stick someone in an MRI and look at what changed at the network level.
It was very cool scientifically, and I enjoyed it. But then I started to realize that now I need to turn this into the next step. And the next step is at the time was when you had to either do a second postdoc or keep going or try to become an assistant professor. I knew that that was what I would have had to do. But what was difficult for me was that I was still really wanted to grow within the larger scientific picture.
At that time, I realized that as much as I liked scientists, science, and experimentation, I wasn’t the most technically oriented person. So I wasn’t so interested in being a dedicated technical scientist with computational modeling or whatever it was that I needed to do to remain competitive. And a job was posted at the door in the Donders Institute here in the Netherlands. It is very famous for neuroimaging and cognitive neuroscience. And the physician was known as a senior researcher.
It was something that didn’t have in North America. The idea was to contribute to a larger lab and develop your skills, manage students, and so on because you would be given a portion of the lab and to do your own scientific project in your own way. It was a six-year position of joining an institute that was very well known, heavily supported technically, and with a great infrastructure. That was appealing to me because this was a way that I could grow in the field of more team science.
I thought to work with others collectively towards some bigger picture. Donders was a head of other places by having such these decisions. It became a bit of a difficulty in the end. That was so much of what we all face as researchers in writing papers, writing grants, and trying to build a career as an individual scientist towards becoming a professor.
Even though I was a senior researcher, that pathway was still the only way to go long term. I was a bit disappointed because I was much more interested in being a part of the bigger picture of science. About halfway through, I started to realize that what I wanted to do was a different type of training. I did an Executive MBA Program here in the Netherlands at Tilburg. I was one of the few researchers that had ever done something like this.
But it made sense to me in the business world, or in a larger organization because you’re much more used to having a vision and being able to articulate that having a mission, having kind of a structural system and an organization set up to try to figure out what is it that we do? Where should we be in the world? What is our specialty? How should we get there? Who should we involve? What’s the end result? That was the whole aspect of organizational thinking I had.
I wasn’t formally exposed to research. Even though many scientists become excellent managers. It’s just not a part of the way we are trained to think. I enjoyed it during my MBA and being able to learn all of these business models. Those business models are not just financial models. They’re the models to tell us where do we fit in the world, who are we, and who’s our end customer, and you can substitute customer with end-user and society for your science. I felt that a lot of the things that I learned during the MBA, were applicable to science.
I did a lot of assignments during my MBA where I could look at translation from science into a product for the market, and also a lot of looking at organizational management and things like that I thought could be helpful to research. Now I’ve managed to be still involved in the university system doing research. Because of my interests and the skills that I developed doing an MBA, I now have these positions that fit very much with kind of a new way of doing science.
It’s not the only way of doing science now. This new model of these public-private partnerships, and these kinds of research institute models where you are trying to go across departments, across institutes, across universities and bringing in different stakeholders like industry directly, patient organizations, governments to try to work together towards a bigger kind of more structural goal with something coming out of science.
These positions that I have now are the way I can do four of them is because they’re all temporary positions that fit together in this kind of larger framework related to this public-private partnership. I still get to do research and by the research, I mean, the amount of research that I physically do in the lab myself is wound down a lot. So I’m now much more like a supervisor of PhD students and others, with senior professors and so on.
In my other time, I get to do activities that are much more on the translational side of science. So there’s a bit of management and coordination, a bit of almost trying to bring different stakeholders together to try to fit with a more of an organizational approach to science. That new model is interesting. It’s not the only way to do scientific research. But governments, especially in Europe are interested now in funding these types of constructions.
It means that there are a lot of these positions that are coming up for scientists, or for people who have experience in science to be able to contribute differently. And that’s it.
Natalia 11:17 That’s amazing. You had all the story in your head prepared? That’s amazing. I was going to ask you a few things. First of all, something that often comes up when people proceed from this postdoc phase to the senior positions. And some of them miss doing this hands-on experience doing research. How do you feel about that? Do you miss that part of your life or not really?
Ian Cameron 11:47 To be honest, I don’t personally miss it. And that’s true. I think I’m more excited about what I’m doing now. I’m happier with the bigger picture, and where it is going, and kind of seeing about how all the pieces fit together?
Natalia 12:15 I see myself the same way. I was also thinking in another way in the very beginning. I fought more in terms of a loss because I invested a lot of time in getting these skills. And these are rare competencies, if you can program networks, work on topics like causality. These concepts I was working on actually getting all this expertise.
But if you do career orientation, it is directly necessary. I was also initially having this success of loss. But now, I enjoy what I’m doing so much. I don’t even think about it anymore. Next question is: do you perceive yourself as a generalist, or as a person who prefers to look at problems from the helicopter point of view?
Ian Cameron 13:08 In that sense, I would call myself a generalist. But I’m not a generalist, technically. I’m not the type of person who can both program at a high level and do mathematical modeling. I’m not a technical generalist.
Natalia 13:32 I see. Guys, if you have questions for Ian, please post them in the chat. Please, whatever you want to ask, just ask any time. We’ll answer those questions. Please tell us a little bit more about what you’re doing at the moment. Because you have four jobs. And you go one by one and tell us how your week looks like.
Ian Cameron 13:59 Right. I had a bit more of an explanation about these four jobs. On the research side, a few years ago, I and Senior Professor Richard van basil and Siska Haida, who’s a professor at 20, as well as business developers at Radboud University, put together a proposal that is about mobile neuroimaging. This is a European Regional Development Fund proposal. The idea is to have researchers from more than one university plus companies working together towards a bigger problem where everybody’s doing these different work packages.
Two of those work packages are handled by 20 universities and Radboud University. I am a researcher in both of these work packages. That’s how I have the appointments at Radboud University was because I contribute as a researcher to this package. That is only part of my week where I’ve been exposition, then neurotech.
NL is a group of professors, recognizing that neurotechnology is a real strength of the Netherlands, not only from the research side, but if you tie in the engineering schools and the clinics, and also the ecosystem here around neurotechnology, we need kind of a national level platform to coordinate activities and be able to do these kinds of translational neuroscience around neurotechnology. That’s also a part-time position where I’m the coordinator of this initiative.
One planet is a research organization that is funded partly by the province of Helder land, as well as Enoch, which is a sensor technology company from Belgium, as in partnership with Wagner and university and Radboud University, again, to collectively do innovations around digital nanotechnology. In that position, again, as part-time, we have roles of linking the university to the organization.
It’s almost like a business developer, except it’s not linking towards the customer. It’s linking the science coming out of the university with the goals and the roadmaps of the One Planet organization. That’s also a part-time job because they want you to be spending your time also in the research environment, connecting to researchers as a researcher, which I do.
There’s sufficient overlap between the technology that’s related to movement disorders and everything that you would do neurotechnology with one planet digital technology. In a short answer, it can be difficult to manage all of these things. But topic-wise, they do overlap. They formed synergy. The knowledge that I learned helps me. The other networks that I need are the same networks that apply to the other. And that works well.
What can’t work is I can’t say Monday, is this Tuesday, or is that Wednesday. It’s more just over two weeks at a time, sometimes even three weeks at a time. It roughly sorts itself out and sometimes I have to lean more on one than the other.
Natalia 17:48 Is that you have specific days assigned to this project, or are you juggling these projects at the same time?
Ian Cameron 18:03 I try to do this is. It’s better to focus. I wouldn’t necessarily say that you have to focus an entire day on one thing and an entire day on another thing, but not five minutes to one thing, and five to other. I try to have a morning on one, an afternoon on another kind of thing.
But the reality is, especially with COVID, when meetings need to happen, meetings need to happen. The biggest disrupter for trying to come up with a schedule if you have a job made up of three or four smaller jobs is to be able to structure your meetings. Because a lot of the other people that I’m working with have split positions. We do agree, we tend to say okay, let’s make for one of these things, let’s make Thursday the meeting day, and then for the other. We tend to try to sort itself out that way, but usually, meetings become the most difficult to juggle.
Natalia 19:04 I would like to know if you’re one of these persons who prefer to close the office at five or you have an entrepreneurial lifestyle where you work when you feel like it.
Ian Cameron 19:26 I used to work when I feel like. I now am trying to be more efficient in a workday. And the reason is that I have a daughter and a wife. It’s easier if you can manage it that way.
Natalia 19:48 I think age people are also more capable of standing their ground, right? They usually start at a very young age and work themselves to death. And then at some point, they say, No, I don’t want my life to look like this. I set my boundaries. And I think most people are only capable of doing that after they like hit 30 or 35. At some point, I have to take care of myself, and then at some point,
At least this is what I observe among people I know. I had a question for you. Guys, if you have any questions, ask us because it’s an open webinar. I wanted to ask you about a little bit different topic now. Because I know you are from the Donders, and we had some legal project together before. I know you from all the social and social activities. We’ve been around each other for some time.
I think that in the institute, you want to work with one of these people who never really argue with anyone, that you have very good relations with people. I mean it’s quite unusual, which I don’t mean ironically. Because, you know, academics is made in this way that you put a lot of ambitious people together in one place. The odds of getting promoted or even staying are quite low.
At the end of the day, in neuroscience, only 10, like, only 2% of PhDs become professors. It’s competitive. You put a lot of competitive people together, and you close them, and they are brought by kind of bonds with contracts as well. If something doesn’t work between them, they still have to get to the end of the contract, which is usually three years or five years. They know that the odds of staying in academia are small.
It’s kind of the system that naturally puts people in a situation when they can get very feisty often. Sometimes, they are completely different than what they would be if they are not under all these extenuating circumstances. There are a lot of conflicts between people. That’s what I see. I think it’s a system to blame. But what I’ve seen is that you are one of these people that have this amazing ability to work with a lot of people at the same time, but never fall into trouble. Maybe I’m wrong. If I’m wrong, then tell me, please. I thought that you are a good example of someone who can find his way with other people.
Ian Cameron 23:05 Thanks for the kind words. I guess it’s also what I like. I tend to work well with people. I’m not a combative person. It means that I yeah, I seek out those types of working relationships where that can happen. It’s a good point because it’s serving me well, now in these positions where I do have to work with a lot of people. And I do have to see both sides, especially at One Planet.
It’s about building relationships between researchers at the university and the one planet organization. It is trying to come up with a match of what everybody wants to try to make something that’s going to work for everyone. It is true that’s why I’m better suited in these types of positions than in a traditional path where maybe you do have to be much more sure about your answer being the right way, perhaps.
Natalia 24:19 I mean when I interact, like my interactions with you, I always have this feeling that the person is playing political games. That’s the vibe I’m getting. At the same time, people who get these positions that you’re getting, it contradicts my beliefs.
Ian Cameron 24:40 No. I guess the types of positions I have are about stakeholder management, building relationships, forming networks, trying to manage a project, and the people involved this kind of thing, right? In that sense, I think you want the right fit or the right person that would want to do well at that is someone who tries to see to see a win win for everybody.
Natalia 25:22 People who are good at something sometimes don’t know why they are good at it. It’s obvious that you just find your way with people and you never really have to analyze that. I was curious because I think it’s rare. It’s quite something that should be analyzed and put us somewhere else. 10 Simple, Simple Rules, saying, you know, what, maybe this is a conversation for another time.
In the meantime, someone asked the question. Can I just read it aloud? Hi, Ian. This is Murali. I’m working in the area of nano neuro aspects. I’m passionate about neuro and I strongly believe engineering and nanotech have the interface of the neurosciences to solve neurological problems, and other neuromuscular disorders. What kind of opportunities I will get if I bring any translational ideas to solve neurological problems?
Ian Cameron 26:37 You want to bring translational ideas? How would you? What do you mean?
Natalia 26:45 I think the question is about opportunities at the job market because that’s what we are here concerned about.
Ian Cameron 26:51 It’s certainly the initiative that I’m involved in. It’s a great many opportunities. To give you more concrete examples of what we’re talking about in terms of opportunity, the ones that I’m most familiar with are, of course, these initiatives that are around forming these types of public-private partnerships. The concept of that is letting industry completely solve things on its own to make something for the market instead of having basic science exist in a vacuum.
We’re trying to link everybody together with the idea of trends and translational ideas in neuroscience. They fit in these models, where you have brain research about nanotechnology coming out from the engineering schools. The funded projects coming from the government that you can see specifically announced on the website through Taytay Bay and some of these Dutch government organizations and the EU level, are the same thing.
There will be a lot of these funding calls when you have researchers at university along with industry partners, along with patient organizations writing together. It depends on what stage you are Murali. If you’re a PhD student or postdoc or a researcher still in training, then you would be ideal for someone working within these projects. That’s the most obvious opportunity I can think of.
If you’re also more on the entrepreneurial side or something like this, then you want to be going to these networking meetings that are organized in these ecosystems to talk to the other people because you’re going to need this. You’re leading towards clinical trials or something like this. Right? I would say you’re looking at an industry job and in a company that makes these technologies. If you’re still on the research side, you’re looking for these kinds of these models where they are getting funding postdocs and assistant professors, and PhD students working with industry to make this connection. Did that answer your question?
Natalia 29:34 Exactly. That’s what he says I have a question now, which is, how do you see yourself now? Do you see yourself as a researcher, who is working on linking research to the economy? Do you see yourself as a science communicator? Or do you see yourself as a business developer?
Ian Cameron 30:04 That’s a good point. I would say It’s a combination of the first one and the third one. One of the interesting things is that One Planet has business developers, right? Business developers tend to be more market-focused. They tend to be also involved in both the legal and the financial aspects of connecting to an industry or connecting to a customer and industry partner.
In my case, I’m slanted more towards the research side and bringing the research to the business developers, if that’s a way I could say it. In that space, I’m kind of in-between business development and research.
Natalia 31:00 I think many people who do research, but kind of funds also, think of going towards business development. I might have this question. Do you think that MBA was necessary for you to get a business position? Or was it maybe helpful to some extent, but there were some other circumstances? Do you think, what would you advise to researchers who want to take steps towards that direction?
Ian Cameron 31:33 I would say the MBA was helpful, but not necessary. You can be a business developer without an MBA. A business developer needs experience, they will look for experience in business development, experience in setting up contracts, and things like that. That’s probably worth more than a degree because you have more experience. But it certainly is helpful, because I understand the business models, and I understand a bit of the financial side, and so on. It’s definitely helpful.
What I would say is there are other types of degrees or skills training that you can pick up as well besides an MBA, but there are there other master’s programs in the Netherlands. There are also online professional courses, and everything from project management, and so on. These things can be very helpful. They set you on the path and they expose you to those types of positions. I had interviewed for a business developer position. And I didn’t get that business developer position, because I had less experience directly in business development.
Even though I’d done an MBA, I wasn’t like a master in finance, and they were much more interested in the financial sides of things. There are differences.
Natalia 33:04 I have to tell you that the people who contact me, and through the company looking for training in one of these career orientation courses that we’re doing, actually, among those people, like 30, to 40%, are actually thinking of entrepreneurship in some form. I would say 40 to 60, like people who are searching or possibly launching their own company, or doing maybe something towards business development.
Maybe 60% are actually looking for employment in corporations and some other companies. It’s a relatively high percentage, I would say, which makes sense because when you think about it, like, lifestyle of the researcher is quite close to a lifestyle of entrepreneurs, just shooting the whole day. And you have to decide about how your day looks like by yourself. I guess, at least in terms of working style is kind of the same type of life.
Guys, I’m waiting for more questions from you. Okay, next, another is asking, Ian, do you have connections in Toronto? I’m a fourth year PhD at University of Toronto and I’m looking for opportunities here. I have a question for you like what types of opportunities because are you already decided on what type of career path you are interested in? Or this is an open question for you. Please tell us a little bit more so that we can help you more.
She says that I don’t want to stay in academia. This is still very broad category because scope of options is very different. It depends on if you want to work in a big public institution, or maybe a startup, or maybe start your own career. It’s a very broad category.
Ian Cameron 35:11 Can he message me directly or something afterwards? That’s probably better.
Natalia 35:20 Great. I was actually going to suggest that. Please don’t hesitate to connect. It’s contexts, you know, context is a very relative thing. Because the same contexts might be very useful or useless, depending what you’re actually looking for. I think the fact that without context, it won’t help you much.
I’m actually curious about how you see your future because you have such a portfolio of positions right now. I’m just thinking, what type of life philosophy you have ? Do you have this philosophy that life flows like a river, and you have to take opportunities along the way, and you just see how it unfolds? Or you have very concrete picture. How you want to see yourself in five or ten years?
Ian Cameron 36:23 I really do believe that this public private partnership model towards science is going to be a big one. And if you’re the government, you can really streamline things towards having a direct benefit to the society, while at the same time being able to fund science and training new people and things like that. What I’m talking about is just to be a bit more clear instead of an individual researcher competing for a small personal grant to fund him or herself plus one or two students. We’re talking about a much larger grant that’s going to be spread across many research centers, and they’re each going to have their own portions of a larger thing, right.
In that model, you’ll have companies working in there, and you’re trying to complete this whole value chain from basic science up to something that you can create around a top. I really believe and those can be small little projects. And by small, I mean a few million euros that exist for five years, and then it’s done. Or they can be something larger, like, well, Nida brings up Toronto, so Toronto has the Ontario Brain Institute and there’s many of these models, not just in the brain button in the Netherlands on code, which is about cancer and things like this.
Within those types of organizations, I see myself. I really see myself doing continuously what I’m doing now. None of these types of organizations are going to be necessarily guaranteed that they’re going to be there forever. Some of them, as I mentioned, are tied to a specific project. And others are more virtual platforms, or a group of people that are really involved around one type of research and can connect to the universities and the ecosystems of industry.
They need to continuously generate funding and this kind of thing. I see myself being involved in this area. I don’t have a direct answer of a specific position, but kind of continue what I’m doing within this path.
Natalia 38:54 I can see what you mean. I actually started thinking the same way. The process is more important than the actual goal. Setting just one very specific goal, might lead to a major disappointment, if that’s not what you end up with. It’s better to focus on the process indeed. Okay, so you don’t have like one vision you will see along the way about how can you improve and how can you proceed?
Ian Cameron 39:32 I think what’s hard for for academics is that we’re so used to a ladder, first PhD student, then postdoc, and second postdoc, assistant professor, and associate professor. But in the models there’s project manager, project coordinator, business developer, external collaboration coordinator, program director.These all these different positions.
You can expect to a little bit more fluid perhaps in this space. In order to be one, it might be best if you were a research first and if you had business development experience and so on, right? And if you think of an industry, not all industries, but certainly an industry, then there are more of these types of multiple routes that you can do.
Natalia 40:30 And since you now work as a business developer for this part of your time.
Ian Cameron 40:36 You’re not actually a real business developer, just to be clear.
Natalia 40:42 When you work? What you’re doing right now. Aren’t you tempted to start your own company?
Ian Cameron 40:50 I think there are some people who are born entrepreneurs. There are people that say, I want to be an entrepreneur, I don’t care what it is, I want to be an entrepreneur. Right? And then there’s others that have potential. They’re like I’ve created a competitive advantage that no one else is seeing. I’ve come up with a business model and so on. Then they are open to that.
I think people who’ve been academics for a while and are not necessarily born entrepreneurs. They could go this route when there’s an opportunity.
Natalia 41:50 You were waiting for your opportunity. That’s what you’re saying?
Ian Cameron 41:53 Yes. It’s the same thing with anything, even in a company. One of the things that I like is not just being an entrepreneur, but entrepreneurial thinking within these organizations. There is a branch of a company or a research institute that is more focused on innovating something to go to the market.
Natalia 42:22 Right. I understand. I know that you’re well balanced person. And you probably think one step at a time. Was it always like this? Or you also had also some crises in the past, or you felt like you were on the crossroads, and you didn’t really know where to go next.
Because now it feels like you like really have this inner peace with you.
Ian Cameron 43:02 It’s not always easy. For instance, I think one of the problems I had personally was, I kind of held on in my own mind to this vision of how I wanted research to work. And when it wasn’t working the way that I wanted it to work, I had to do something to get myself on the path towards how I wanted it to go. That can make a bit of a crisis, right?
For me, doing the MBA really helped, because it was a way for me to say I need to do something to get myself back on on the path towards how I what I wanted to do. Right, so that would be an example. What I can’t say is that nothing is easy. All of these these organizations, such as these public private partnerships aren’t 100 year old companies that you assume they are going to be around forever. it’s not like that. I can be complacent I’ll have to have any of these things constantly to keep moving and delivering, or otherwise they won’t exist.
Natalia 44:26 Right. Maybe you could also share some tips with us about looking for the jobs outside academia. From your personal experience, what are the effective strategies and tips and tricks that you could share with us?
Ian Cameron 44:45 I think one is networking with people who are outside the pure science, right? Do talk to people who work in industry and do talk to people who work and startups and so on. But one of the things that I’ve been surprised is there’s a lot of these people at the university themselves, right? So especially, there’s an Yeah, there are a number of universities that have business developers and innovation departments and many universities have project managers for the super large projects and that’s also a way to actually connect to people while doing your research.
I think LinkedIn is very important, right? I don’t really need LinkedIn but if you want recruiters to find you, and things like that, then you need a good LinkedIn profile. The other thing I know the most of is, these kinds of funding models that I’m working in now, they get more common, and you start to see more of them. There is opportunities for more people to do kind of what I’m doing.
If you are a full time postdoc, and you are thinking of something like science communication, or you’re thinking of something like being a business developer, project manager, something like this, these other kinds of alternatives,then you have to connect to the right grants. But there’s often people as part time positions, so a postdoc for point six is full time equivalent. And the other point for that person is doing things like communications, coordination, that kind of thing. It’s good way while you’re doing your postdoc. if you’re thinking of introducing a second one you have to get connected with these other jobs.
Natalia 46:58 Guys, if you have questions you still have time to ask. This is actually something that comes back over and over again, that after all, networking is the most efficient way of getting jobs. It’s a pity that we have a crisis right now. It’s not as easy as it used to be. I have another question about strategy. Can you share some personal tricks, like how to self monitor yourself at work? Especially now, that you are juggling these four jobs. Do you use any techniques to streamline your work, anything other than to do list and trying to cut down as many things as possible.
Ian Cameron 47:55 To do list is helpful. What I do find is it’s easier said than done, definitely. But I’m trying to set to do list. I’m going to get here, before lunch with this job or before I get to my next meeting about on one of these other things. I’m going to make sure that I have finished one of these tasks. I really I really tried to do that. Because otherwise you’re just multitasking. That’s always hard.
Natalia 48:30 Maybe, that’s why you’re so slim, because I always have issue with losing weight. I think that’s what I should do. You just don’t eat before you do this.
Ian Cameron 48:50 I’m not up and down under my seat running all over campus like I was before. I do take extensive notes that’s what I find too is because I’m talking to so many different people I really have to take minutes and meetings. That’s one thing I really have to because otherwise, you’ll forget conversations and you’ll forget things or at least I do.
I really find that I am really taking a lot more extensive notes about what was said and so on, because I end up having to review them over and over again. Otherwise it can be a bit to change your focus.
Natalia 49:37 I understand. We know that you don’t really need much, you know, self management procedures and self management tools and that’s wonderful. I’m just thinking what else could they ask you like? Maybe tell us also one in few sentences like how can you effectively manage all your complex professional life together with your private life?
Ian Cameron 50:25 It’s not easy. One thing that I’ve had to work on myself is I do take my work home with me and I really try not to so even if it’s not that I’m physically sitting there working, because my mind does is thinking a lot right. So there that can also be be difficult here right? Because with these many different jobs, there then becomes a lot of things to do, right? Because there’s that for this organization and that for another research project. It does take a lot of headspace. That’s something I need to continue to work on.
Natalia 51:11 Do you also have some relaxation techniques, something to clean your mind from all this logistics?
Ian Cameron 51:21 That’s a good one. I try to exercise and go for runs or go to gym. Now I can’t go to gym because Corona and other stuff. But I do try do that. I wouldn’t call it mindfulness, because I’m not really good at doing that but trying to just take time when you just downtime. You just not staring at TV, your social media? Nothing like that. But genuine downtime, just looking out the window or something like this?
Natalia 51:55 I would still like to ask you one or two questions. First of all, there’s one question that I often ask people, and I would like to ask you also about this. What is your relationship with your job? Do you feel like, your job really defines you and you are your job in a way? Or is it not a way to express yourself, but you don’t really think that you are your job, and it’s not the same? Or maybe you have distance? And it’s just one of the boxes that your life is like, you know, like fractions into a few different areas? How do you treat your job?
Ian Cameron 52:51 I guess they treat it like, I need a job, and I need to work. And I’m trying to find a nice a job that I like and I’m good at. I wouldn’t say that my life is my job. No. But I do put effort into my job. And I care about it. But I also like to say job is just a job. Right? We all need to work and we also need time over not working. While I’m working, I’m glad I’m doing this and that. That would be how I put it.
Natalia 53:38 A lot of employees of the public sector try to keep some healthy distance that after all, job is a job. It’s less personal. That’s just a comment. I’m not assessing it in any way. It’s Just an observation. Lastly, do you possibly have any advice for a person who is starting their PhD, or finishing their PhD?
Ian Cameron 54:36 What I would say is, if you’re starting your PhD, pay attention to the aspects of the PhD that you really like to do. I wish I could remember this quote. I forget it but basically, you want to find something that you like to do, or good at and can get paid for doing it. There are these things you should be thinking of in a career, right? It’s easier said than done, but you have to like it, you have to be good at it. And you have to be able to monetize it, right. That’s what you should be aiming for. Right?
If you’re starting your PhD, because your PhD is going to be coordination, it’s going to be data, it’s going to be analysis, it’s going to be writing, it’s going to be a bit of teaching, if you start adding up all these different things, pay attention to the things that you like to do that are good at and that you could see being employed doing right. I would say, if you are in your postdoc or nearing the end, I would definitely say ask yourself, why are you still there? Right?
If you are doing a postdoc or a second postdoc or something, and it’s fine to say, I think, I like it and and I still want to do science. And even if this project ends, I’ll be happy to look for another one as another postdoc. People suggest not to do that. But the reality is, is there are going to be new projects and projects are going to look for postdocs, and sometimes they’re looking for postdocs who have already done postdocs, because they’re the best fit right?
I would say, it’s important to not just do a postdoc for the sake of doing one, right? You could do a postdoc, because you want to learn something new to see if you like it or to use it as a stepping stone to something else. That would be just my personal advice.
Natalia 56:36 I see that a lot of people are a bit confused after their PhD. They feel this is not for them. But since they only have academic experience, so finding a postdoc is the simplest solution for them also, especially if they have a good CV and a few publications. Getting a postdoc is easy for them as compared to getting a decent job in a company in terms of recruitment.
They postponed the decision. They’re like, I know deep inside, intuition tells me that this is not for me. I will just have to see the opportunities later. Because I cannot do anything, like, I don’t have an idea. There is disposed of next door and I can get it. Why not postpone the decision by two years. And then they postponed it by another two years and another two years and then wake up as a 40 year old person who feels they got stuck in their own job. And it’s a bit late then.
Ian Cameron 57:42 The reality is that people do need a job right. Sometimes it’s your own department says no, we’d like to keep you around and you say, okay, and you stay. There is practical reasons. It’s still a job and you get paid for it. You’re doing what you’re trained to do. My recommendation is to ask yourself why are you doing it? And if you aren’t sure, then the time is there where you can explore some of these other things. That would be my recommendation.
Natalia 58:25 All right. If there are no further questions, then I would like to thank Ian, for joining us today and for sharing all this advice. That’s really very interesting story. I’m curious to see how your career will continue to develop. I would like to see where you get into next 5 to 10 years. Do you still think that you will be leaving in the Netherlands until the end of your career, or you still consider that you might relocate?
Ian Cameron 59:04 It’s hard to say. I do think that the place and the type of environment I’m working in, is replicable in other places including my own country, Canada.
Natalia 59:32 We’ll see. Thank you so much again, for all your information and advice. Thank you for being here and for accepting the invitation. I wish you all the best and I would like to see how it all turns out in the future. Thank you so much, Ian. And thank you everyone for coming and for asking questions. Have a nice evening.
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Please cite as:
Bielczyk, N. (2020, June 7th). E005 How Do Jobs in Public-Private Space Look? PhDs in Business Development: Do You Need MBA Title? Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/career-development-strategies-e005-how-do-jobs-in-public-private-space-look-phds-in-business-development-do-you-need-mba-title/
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