E007 How To Get Hired as a Consultant in Pharma as a PhD? How To Side-Hustle? On the Origins of BNFL

June 21st 2020

Dr Natalia Vtyurina was trained in Russia as a fundamental Physicist at Lomonosov Moscow State University (2011). She successfully graduated with a PhD in Biophysics from the Bionanoscience department at Delft University of Technology (2016) where she studied DNA-protein interactions at the single-molecule level. 

This experience prompted her to proceed further toward a new challenge in biomedical research. With the ultimate purpose of discovering how to maximize the delivery efficiency of engineered nano-sized drug carriers, she has completed a postdoctoral research project in the field of nanomedicines at the University of Groningen (2019). Being social and communicative, she is actively contributing to the dynamic, fast-moving, and multicultural environment of the Controlled Release Society (CRS). In February 2019 she established a new CRS BeNeLux & France Local Chapter and in April 2019 was elected to be president of this non-profit scientific association.

In November 2019, Natalia made a transition from academia to industry and joined ProPharma Group in Leiden, the Netherlands as an Associate Consultant. She is executing assignments and projects in Life Science Consultancy, Manufacturing & Development, and has experience in Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Internal Standards, Qualification and Validation, and Data Integrity. In this webinar, Natalia told us about the process of transitioning from academia to the pharma industry. She also explained how she created the CRS BeNeLux & France Local Chapter association, and how she manages working on her business as a stretching class instructor after working hours. Lastly, she answered many questions about how to talk to recruiters.

Natalia Vtyurina’s contact information:

LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nataliavtyurina/

Natalia Vtyurina’s Twitter profile: https://twitter.com/NVtyurina/

Please contact Natalia Vtyurina if you need some advice concerning: (1) How to do Networking & Communication effectively, (2) How to use self-awareness as a tool for career success, (3) How to sell yourself on the job market & transition from academia to industry.

The episode was recorded on June 21st, 2020. This material represents the speaker’s personal views and not the opinions of their employer(s).

Natalia 00:09 Welcome to our distinguished guest, Natalia Vtyurina who has had an amazing career so far. She’s a PhD in biophysics. She received her PhD from the biomedical science department at the University of Technology. Today, she manages three different activities. She is an associate consultant in the pro pharma group and as well as the head of the CRS, and balance local chapter. She’s also an entrepreneur with her own business. She’s an expert in stretching, which is an extremely interesting combination. I’m very curious about your secrets, and about how to develop a career and develop yourself. Thank you so much for accepting our invitation. Thank you so much for coming today.

The first question I would like to ask you is how it all started? Why did you choose this research topic for your PhD? And if you could tell us, what was your mindset? And how do you arrive at these three different amazing jobs at the same time?

Natalia Vtyurina 01:37 Thanks Natalia for inviting me. It’s a pleasure for me to join your company. I know you do a great job by combining quite many things. You’re mentoring people, and you share your experience, and you train them in the job search. That’s valuable. I think it’s a hot topic for many early-career scientists nowadays. I’m happy to share my experience. Because on LinkedIn, and many other sources, a lot of people are approaching me and asking me this question. Now, I can elaborate more about my career and I’m happy that now I can record it, and refer everybody to this great webinar and the great discussions.

I will just try to be short in a way about my introduction so that we have a little bit more room for your questions. I will just start briefly with my introduction from eight years back when I moved to the Netherlands from Russia, and I was trained as a fundamental physicist in Russia. I was looking for international experience and preferably in science so that I could get a scientific degree, and pursue for at least four or five years, a career in academia.

But at that time, I knew that I don’t want to stay in academia. After doing my PhD, I was even more sure that I don’t want to do that. I will maybe talk about it a bit more if you have any interest to ask me why I didn’t like academia and why I wanted to pursue a career in the industry from the beginning. If you’re interested, just ask this question. I served my teaching in TU Delft. It’s a technical university and I was doing biophysics. It’s the Department of bio nanoscience. They were studying the single-molecule interaction. I started with very small items, like small DNA molecules and proteins. It was quite interesting research.

I realized by the end of my PhD that my research will not be taken on as applicable research so it will stay fundamental and I graduated with success. I graduated with two publications in plasma cells and I liked it. I still had this feeling after graduation that my research was done, but I’m not sure at all that anybody will pick it up and bring it to the level that is useful for society. That brought me basically into this path of looking for a job in the industry. I was looking for a job for seven months after my PhD and it was very difficult because I couldn’t find any. All industrial companies to which I applied, rejected me. I was a little bit surprised because I didn’t expect my future like that. I thought that the most difficult part is over and now I can enjoy my career.

That was a mistake to think like that. Because I realized that I’m unemployed and I don’t know how to approach industries. The industries don’t want me and that was a little bit of frustration and I decided, okay if it doesn’t work, I better secure my future by continuing my work in academia. I just try to switch the field a little bit from biophysics which is very fundamental to something more applicable. My next choice was getting a position at Groningen University. I moved there from Delft to Groningen for two years of my postdoctoral research into the biomedical field and be more specific in the nanomedicine field. They control drug delivery and nanoparticles.

I felt like it was a more applicable field. If I will try my application to the industry again upon my postdoc, I will have some value-added to my resume as I worked at the Department of Pharmacy, and I was working on the pharmaceuticals as well in close departments in University Medical Center. This is sort of worked out. After two years, I could add a line on my CV that I worked in this for nanomedicines. They have a great potential to become future meetings and maybe at some point, complement or even replace conventional medicine. I enjoyed it.

While I was doing my postdoc, the conferences were the same as dreaming big. As a scientist, you’re supposed to attend conferences, but what I realize is the difference between my previous field and this field was the fact that the pharmaceutical industry in which I was wanted to work for was thinking the same conferences. Being in this field allowed me to expand my network towards the companies and companies’ representatives that could be my future employers.

It wasn’t very good to know and grow my network that way. It still didn’t give me a security that somebody is still interested in my profile. My search for a job was very lonely in terms of years. Because I was looking for a job, I was collecting a lot of people around me who are from a similar field or others. And I realized that I have such a huge network. I build it up just because I was looking for a job. It’s enough to create a society of people in four European countries who basically know me and who potentially could join me.

When I get accidentally into one of the conferences, I bumped into the president of the control-free society last year. And two years ago, she introduced me to this association. At some point, I realized that this association has a lot of different local chapters because they are located in headquarters. They have a lot of local chapters all over the road and they don’t have any in the Netherlands. I was very surprised about it. Then I started to dig further and further and when I realized that the reason for the change is actually to use all of my networks to establish this association, I decided to just take this opportunity. By the end of my postdoc, I was elected as the president of this association. That was an amazing feeling that I could establish something like that.

Unfortunately, I had to spend five months of my employment, looking for a job. This large network still didn’t give me the end. I didn’t achieve the end goal. I was so successful in other fields, but it was really good that this Dean, the president of this association, gave me a lot of experience and a lot of things I could try. That was the main bullet point in my CV. It strengthened my CV. And again, if we moved back to my PhD in biophysics, it was very fundamental. 

By the end of my postdoc, I had a biomedical experience. I was the president of the association. My condition was already automatically more attractive for industries rather than it was up to my PhD. It was with me in five months of unemployment. During this time, I did a lot of interviews. It gave me a lot of experience. Now, I can say that I’m never afraid. I will never be afraid to be hopeless because I know how to do the job. And eventually, I found a job.

And after a few offers, in parallel, I accepted the job as a social consultant at pro pharma Group. This is a consultancy firm. I completely left the lab and the bench. I entered the new environment. Now, I work in the pharmaceutical industry as I wanted. And in my role, I consult different clients about all of the details and old requirements that they can make during the whole lifecycle of the drug products. You may know the drug products, so it’s easy to put them on the market. It might take 10 to 12 years. That’s why we still don’t have a vaccine for COVID-19. Because it takes really long to develop.

We provide the services to the companies. It could be discovery development in all the stages during 12 years. It could be the preclinical phase, clinical trials, or marketing. We help different clients basically, to comply with their regulations. If you have any questions about exactly my role or what I do, you will welcome but with this, I would like to wrap up my short introduction. I’ll be happy to take some questions.

Natalia 11:50 Okay, great. Thank you so much for this introduction. I have to tell everyone that you can ask questions all the time in the chat, and we will address those questions. I have the first question for Natalia. I’m interested in this initial period after your PhD that you described, that you couldn’t find a job for seven months. I was curious, when you were talking about it, whether you already had a PhD title back then or you were preparing for PhD defense because I heard that from a lot of PhD candidates that a lot of prospects on the job market changed exactly at the point when you get the title.

As long as you don’t have it, you’re transparent to the recruiters, and all of a sudden, when you get it, and then the interview start. You get it noticed and invited to interviews. That’s my question for you. I would like to ask you if you have any insight why this was the case like you had such a good education and why you think that you were not successful back then?

Natalia Vtyurina 13:05 It’s a very good question. First of all, I did have the degree by that time. I started my search way before. I could say that my search was around 12 or 15 months if I take the time before my PhD, because I started way earlier than that when I graduated. When I graduated, it was my expectation. I was thinking that my degree will end with something towards my CV that will look more attractive with the job market. That’s from the other way round. And that’s what most PhDs don’t realize it sometimes for certain industries like r&d departments specifically.

But r&d departments are rather small, and they’re way more producing industry. And for that one user, you don’t do it. It’s an advantage. I never regret it. I get a PhD. I hope you also will never do that. It is sort of put some limits on the number of position to which you wish you can apply because if you apply to the positions where the master’s degree is needed, you’re overqualified. If you look at the positions, then you will realize there are not many positions because your next step is that you have 10 years of experience.

There is this gap in you being overqualified but at the same time, if you want to have like a senior position, then you have five or eight or 10 or 15 years of experience. I think, in my case, the reason was not only the PhD title because if you haven’t titled you just have a harder time identifying where are the positions and where you can find this position that is suitable for you. You can be successful with your PhD.

You have to focus first on the sort of what do you want? Or what kind of company? What kind of position? How many positions per year do they have for PhDs? If you start your job search in advance, if you start with one company, you can see what does chance for you to get there, because you could see and track how many positions are open for your level. But in my case, I think I attribute my success in finding the two factors. One is my fundamental background. I don’t want to scare you because what I wanted was quite unrealistic. I was a physicist who was trying to enter the pharmaceutical industry.

This is not like a very straightforward wish. I made myself very challenging to do that. I think that was more difficult than it could be. Because if you have a PhD in pharma, then there are fewer questions of the company. For me, it was the first and the second factor was the economical crisis. This is something you don’t realize. You don’t think it will affect you. In my case, in 2016, there were not many positions. I thought there was something wrong with me. That was just something wrong with the environment, with the opportunities. A part of that is also another factor, which is specific.

Many PhDs graduated the same year and they were more than the previous year. The year when I graduated, there were a lot of competitors in the market. And again, I didn’t know about that until a few years past, and then I realized. It is what happens.

Natalia 17:24 I agree with this. It goes in waves unlike with job markets. Sometimes, the job market is dominated by job seekers. It’s dominated by employers. Depending on the economical situation, one side can dictate conditions. Sometimes, it’s hard with investment. You have to spot the right type, and the right timing to get in. The same goes for the job market. We have questions from the chat. How do you feel in the pharmaceutical industry?

Natalia Vtyurina 18:05 After working seven months for my company, I cannot tell you about the pharmaceutical industry, and how do I feel there, because it’s too little time. But I do like my job. It’s diverse. I have a lot of clients. The difference between if I would work for the pharmaceutical industry, is I want specific products that would be a bit more different experience rather than working as a consultant because I work with many different pharmaceutical industries and companies.

I work a little bit with one idea, and from one project to another. It’s very diverse. I think the pharmaceutical industry is very concise. It’s consistent because we work with medical products, with drugs. We should take care about the quality of products and it should be always number one on the list, whatever product you produce, and I like it. I like this ideology. I think it’s very important that people have the right drugs in the market. I feel very much engaged there.

Natalia 19:19 It means you produce something. There are so many of these coming projects that they just have this promise of creating a new platform and new innovative solution. In the end, nothing happens other than getting money from investors, and that’s it. That’s the end of the project. I can see that in pharma too. There must be some discovery that is involved. It’s like you cannot sell anything without having a working product. That’s good. Okay, we have more questions, which is great. The next question is what is the big difference in the work environment in Industry vs academia?

Natalia Vtyurina 20:08 To be honest, I don’t feel that it’s two completely big differences. You work with people, you have a certain structure, and you work usually in a team, in a group. This is all the same. I mean if you have a supervisor in academia, or you have a manager in industry, then the work environment is the same. In university in academia, many people like it because you have more flexible hours. You can sort of shape your day, more or less in the industry to less practice like that.

I’m not saying that it’s not possible because if you work for a big manufacturer, and corporates usually, there you have less flexibility. You have to come to the working hours that are set like between nine and five, and you have to be there. If you work for consultancy as I do, you have a lot of flexibility in your hours, and it’s just certain hours that you have to make for your clients. Making these hours doesn’t matter for anyone who just read the deadline and has to meet it.

But my client is not going to call me in check. I’m working today on this project. I might have four or five projects running right at the same time. I have to just split my hours between them. And how do I do that? That is pretty flexible. I would like just to emphasize that the environment is actually in a way how it’s structured and how people communicate is completely the same. It’s still valuable when you do teamwork. But from company to company, from your one university to another university, or from one supervisor to another, you have some differences on how exactly things are arranged.

Natalia 22:06 Okay, great. The next question is do you get any industrial support from CRS local chapter?

Natalia Vtyurina 22:25 I don’t get any industrial support. I know what exactly do you mean by support, but what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to build up the network with industries, and which are open from a typical industry. We stay to that sector where work and what is the advantage of me being the President of the service local chapters because we’re teaching in this environment. This is like my personal professional interest in building a relationship with industry that can be very useful for the local chapter that I’m running.

I think it’s just everything for me. My job is connected to the local chapter and local chapters are connected to other companies. I also work for different clients. In that sense, we don’t have any support from outside but I try to build this support from industry to the local chapter.

Natalia 23:22 Okay. I’m not sure if everyone here actually knows what CRS is because it would be good if you explain in two sentences what CRS organization is. What does it stem from and what does it stand for? That would also need an introduction. How do you feel about it?

Natalia Vtyurina 23:53 I think you also mentioned in your introduction that I’m a president of the control society. Since I was looking for a job, I gained a lot of networks and these networks were an opportunity to do this association from scratch. This is a scientific association that’s called a Controlled Release Society (CRS). They focus on targeted drug delivery and nanomedicines. If you’re assigned a certain association that combined so that all the research is leading researchers in your field. For me, that was a controlled release society if you’re in a different field because it can be different and it was not my first association that I was trying to join.

Many were deliberately looking for volunteer opportunities. This is because what allows you to grow your network is if you can meet for some time and invest some time in these small benefit organizations that are specific for your scientific field. It’s amazing how you can get learn and not only learn like in your network if you’re volunteering. It means that people know, what do you contribute? How do you work? How to work with you like how fast do you reply to new emails, like these kinds of things. How your attitude is shown there?

And when you’re looking for a job, this can be very helpful because people don’t have to judge you by your CV, but people can judge you by your appearance and by your contribution to this volunteering opportunity. I was just simply looking for that. These controls release local chapters, as I mentioned, are the local chapter of the huge association that I decided to run.

Natalia 25:55 Okay, great. We have a next question from the participants. Hi, I’m Eileen, a graduate student studying in the US. My question is how do you make the transition from research to consulting as a student? How can we prepare ourselves for the job as a consultant?

Natalia Vtyurina 26:17 I was not deliberately looking for consulting job. Nevertheless, I was quite interested in that. Many people were saying that I should try this. When I was looking for a job, especially after my PhD, I had no clue as to which specific field I should focus on and what consultancy offers is this opportunity to try different projects from different angles and try to work with different clients. Some might have preferences towards the project.

It’s over two companies to work for. I didn’t look for this deliberately. That was one of the other positions I was considering. But in the end, again, I liked it because it gives you a little diversity in terms of work. I can learn a lot. But you can’t prepare for that unless you know exactly the position. When you have a description of the position in front of yourself, then you can prepare. But otherwise, you should prepare for hard work. But how do you prepare for that?

I would just start with looking for companies because there are many consultancy companies like McKinsey or Accenture, or KPMG. You know, these are like global leaders. It’s a little bit different in terms of work than to work for a medium-sized consultancy company. There are so many different business models for a consultancy that you can prepare yourself by actually learning who is in the market, what kind of jobs will they consult for because some consultants consult on the manufacturers and how to manufacture the drug.

And McKinsey consults companies on the corporate strategy. It’s completely two different things. You can say that consultancy is something that has one definition. There are many business models and you have to see what kind of business models you do because if it’s Accenture or McKinsey, you have to be ready to work 60 hours per week. If it’s a medium-sized company, then it could be more flexible. You have to see what do you like, what do you want, and then look for the companies’ position that they offer. When you have a position in front of yourself, then you start to prepare for all these jobs based on the description.

Natalia 29:18 I have a question since I’m very curious what associate consultants specifically mean. I know that there are different types of consultants and you’re the first person I meet that has that particular title. Can you explain what does the associate stands for?

Natalia Vtyurina 29:36 This is an associate scientist position. This is a very common tradition in the pharmaceutical industry and r&d department. Associate means that you need a lot of years to grow in a way that you have a senior, a principal consultant. The associate is just one of the levels of seniority that describes your position. Different companies use different names for that. It could be just a consultant. Sometimes, they prefer not to differentiate between who just started or who sold experience.

It depends on the company. I could also apply for a senior position in different companies with the same degree. As the title leads, it matters when you start working for the company and you shouldn’t be afraid to apply for senior positions.

Natalia 30:49 Do I understand correctly that this is a form of grading. The seniority is a bit similar in academia with grading professors as an associate and full professors. It’s a kind of similar system to indicate how senior you are.

Natalia Vtyurina 31:08 Exactly.

Natalia 31:10 Okay. We have a question. Are you consulting for India or Indian pharmaceutical industries?

Natalia Vtyurina 31:23 On top of my head, I cannot remember any pharmaceutical industry we consulted for that is located in India. But I know that we do like to have some consults with Dr. Reddy with the Indian company. In that sense, that’s possible. But I think it’s only one example. We don’t focus on the Indian market. It’s mostly European because we try to support the companies in their application to the authority and it’s very context-specific. You have to be a specialist who could submit this application to the authorities. It’s very specific to do if it’s Europe and it will be same with India, or Russia. It’s deeper.

Natalia 32:30 Okay. I have a question that is a little bit different. When you’re networking, do you have some rules for that? Do you have some criteria for how to select people to network with?

Natalia Vtyurina 32:44 The only thing that you should do is to select people because most people don’t do that. Most people think that it should go naturally. And then you attend the conference, you meet people and talk. Conferences are rather short. If it’s a one-day conference, you cannot talk to like hundreds or 1000s of people. The thing I do is that I’m trying to check who is attending the conference, who has a particular interest for me, and who I’m going to approach. And then I’m trying to set the goal, for example, I’m going to approach in these conferences, five people, or one person, it doesn’t matter because many people have a frustration after attending the conferences.

They just sink in this environment. There are so many people and they talk to some people, but then they realize it was not a useful connection for them. They have a frustration for the whole day or three days after the conference is over that they don’t get a benefit. If you just go there, you will be out of 1000 people, the person you want to know.

Many scientists do this for the conference and for the sessions that they want to attend. If you plan to network, you have to do the same but with people.

Natalia 34:20 I think sometimes, it’s good to learn whom to approach because the person who has impact and decides about everything is not the loudest in the room. But it’s the person standing just behind them like the calm person standing somewhere in the corner and just looking around everyone. I also learned that it’s not necessarily the loudest person like the alpha male in the room that has the most connections and you should actually approach but sometimes it’s like the peaceful person standing in the corner. It’s also good to learn something in situations when you don’t have that information.

Natalia Vtyurina 35:06 You not only have to select people by names, but you have to read what they’re going to present or check their LinkedIn because to start a conversation, you need to talk. You approach someone and you start talking about this person and asking like, you had such a great experience or you were at this conference like last year or something like that. You have to create this common space first.

Natalia 35:38 That requests practice for sure. Okay, we have questions in the chat. The question is, as a pharmaceutical industry consultant, do you think it would be helpful working in the industries for a couple of years before doing consulting? Can freshly graduate PhD students find a consultant job?

Natalia Vtyurina 35:59 Everything is possible. I think any industrial experience is useful for the future. In that sense, I don’t have advice on what to start with. It could be both. Being a consultant for pharma industries is a completely different concept than working for the pharmaceutical industry on a specific product. In that sense, one can help another in any way. In my case, why I decided to do consultancy is because I didn’t know, from all of the opportunities that exist, what exactly I liked the most, what kind of job with an industrial environment I want to have, and where I want to be in five years.

I realize if I make this investment in the consultants, I can learn a lot about different projects. I can then apply this knowledge to certain fields. I’ve also seen some people who were working for a single product and they were happy about it. But at some point, they realize, okay, I’m a specialist in the single product, I want to learn more, and I can bring my experience on that product and apply it to another product, and then they go to consultancy. It could be both ways.

Depending on what you like, I just advise you to start with anything. If you don’t like it, you can always leave. Nobody is holding you. You can just try it. If you don’t like it, you just move on. It could be one year or a couple of years of experience. I think the most important for these things is to get this industrial experience. With this current job, you get it, and then you will understand where to move on. Try to get any kind of job and then see what you like. And can fresh graduate students find out consultancy jobs? Yes, you can but it’s a bit more difficult because of the reasons I explained. But it’s possible.

Natalia 38:30 Okay, great. The next question is from Monica. Do you have any specific strategy while you were looking for a job before or as well as after the postdoc?

Natalia Vtyurina 38:42 I did have more strategy. After my PhD, I was in the illusion that I will find a job very quickly. My strategy was damaged by that way of doing. After a postdoc, I was already prepared that it might be a bit more difficult than I expected. My strategy was to understand what do I want? And everybody who’s asking me actually where to start with, it’s where you start to think about it. What do I want to try to make arguments? Why do I want this job? Why do I want to work for biotech rather than for Pharma?

I would like to work for medical devices. If you’re like my background, you ask these kinds of questions first. If you’re in a different field, you just take fewer options, and then you choose. This is the first thing that you have to understand for yourself, and then based on your answer, identify, what do I want? Then you start thinking about the companies, for the location, which location do I want to be? Do I want to move or not? You are more specific in your mind about the specific location and country. The most difficult thing when you look for a job is to focus on finding this channel where all of these opportunities are. After you decide about the location, about the company, you can be driven by location, or you can even buy the company.

And then you look at what kind of position do you have in this company. Then you track basically on a weekly or monthly basis, or you make keywords and send their alerts so that this company sends you the positions one day a year. And then in like one, two, or three months, you can get a picture of a kind of position. It usually happens if they have positions for PhDs. You can read the description of the positions and understand what exactly they are. Once you have some sort of view of the available positions, then you start to think what would be the best fit for me, and then you start over what do I want? It’s basically about the circle, about opportunities, and your desires.

Natalia 41:29 Great. Thank you so much for that. I have a question about your recent few years, and especially the PhD time. Do you have any regrets? Is there anything that you would do differently if you had the chance?

Natalia Vtyurina 41:48 I’m not such a person who looks back. I think everything that happened in my career and how it happened is fine. If you learn, it’s the best. After my PhD, I was thinking that it would be much easier, and that’s what made me frustrated because my expectations didn’t meet reality. It was really hard to recover after that. I would do differently than I wouldn’t expect.

Natalia 42:41 I’ve got the same experience. I ended up writing a whole book. I can agree. Do you think that being an expert changed something? Do you think it will be a little bit easier if you were Dutch? Or do you think that it doesn’t matter?

Natalia Vtyurina 43:03 I think certain competition doesn’t matter between the experts and local people. In terms of the language, experts cannot compete. I understand the companies if they see two candidates with the same qualifications and expertise. I don’t understand that you prefer the native speaker just simply for the reason that your clients who they work with and they prefer this language, and then you have to know it. Language is one of the points where you can make your excuse stronger that would help to compete with the bottles.

Natalia 43:56 That’s for sure. Okay, we have a question from Payman. He is saying, I’m a master’s student in nanomedicine that works on call delivery of drugs by nanoliposomes for demo purposes. I have a professional question. What do you think about this field of research for future in the industry? In your opinion, how can I enter this industry?

Natalia Vtyurina 44:27 I think this topic is very exciting. There are a lot of companies that work in Liposome zones. One of the companies that come to my mind is a cosmetic company that I’m a big fan of and I’m using it and it’s Dharma. It’s in Spain, in Valencia. Last year, the controlled release society’s annual meeting was there in Valencia and the company conference was also there.

I had the pleasure to meet people who work for this company and who are presenting their research. I think there is a future of the application of Nano Liposomes in the industry. You could also consider these cosmetic firms like L’Oreal because they’re really large. It’s one of the biggest companies and they have quite large r&d departments where they have a money investment.

They do investments in this type of research. There are also a lot of pharmaceutical industries for dermal application. I think it’s gonna this type of work and research. I think it’s promising and you can try to this company.

Natalia 45:58 I know that you are quite entrepreneurial. You also started your own business. I would like to ask you a few questions about that because it’s quite impressive. You have eight years of experience. And at some point, you decided to also convert your passion into a business. Can you tell us a little bit about that story and how it happened? And why did you take this decision? What is your plan for the future with your stretching classes?

Natalia Vtyurina 46:46 Thanks for bringing it up. Stretching is a sports discipline that is quite popular in Eastern Europe, and especially in Russia. I brought it from Russia. Stretching increases your flexibility. If you do any dance classes, it requires a lot of flexibility. I started when I was a PhD. I was a sports instructor in the sports culture center. I started there, and then I moved towards the type of setting whereI was renting the school to give these classes.

Luckily, I just found a niche that doesn’t have any competitors in that sense. I like to train people because it brings them house. If you’re healthy, everything else around can be settled, and the house is very precious in your life. If you want to house in any field of your life, it’s very important to take care of yourself. By doing this, I’m taking care of myself, and I’m really happy to share my knowledge and my achievements with other people.

They see that I have a lot of followers. And since I realized that, it’s a lot of people who are interested in this. And I’m doing it now online, because of Corona. I give my classes online. Many people from all over the world join my class, and I enjoyed bringing some value to people. There are many colleagues or my partners, or collaborators who are joining my classes and I’m really happy that some people overlap in the many activities that I do. And people appreciate it and join me.

Natalia 49:07 I’m also quite impressed with your cognitive flexibility because you’re also faster switching between tasks. As far as I’m concerned, you had a stretching class even today that ended just an hour before this webinar. You probably just took a brief shower and just change clothes and then you jump right here. That’s quite amazing. I guess some people can do it. They just change one job quickly, change the clothes and sit down, and do another type of job.

I have to take some time for myself. I can’t do that. Those people are like robots to me. You have to be disciplined to be able to manage this. Did you have to learn this in the process? Or was it natural for you from the beginning?

Natalia Vtyurina 50:02 I think it was more or less natural. When I look at myself now, I just see that I’m playing different roles. My life is a cinema. I just change the different roles during the day. It’s a matter of practice. Everything is a matter of practice. If you do that more and more often, at some point, you get used to it. Since all of these roles that I’m playing, they are quite natural, they come in instantly from my motivation and passion.

I’m playing always myself. I play the president of the same TV station, another day or hour, I play the sports instructor. I also play the role of the daughter, and we all are doing this. We have different roles and we behave differently. You switch constantly talking with a client or talking with your friend. You’re not the same with both of them. It is more explicit in my case but I think everybody can do that.

Natalia 51:21 Okay, I understand. People who are good at something, don’t know why they are good at it. They don’t analyze it and don’t make any vivisection of it. It’s maybe your natural talent also. We still have questions that relate more to your career in consultancy and pharma. Let’s take those questions now. But still, if that was up to me how to do more on this entrepreneurial part because I think it’s quite amazing.

It’s also very smart because you kind of commercialized your training. You would spend some time on your cardio or some other training like stretching. You found a way to also share what you know, but also commercialize that. When you think about it that you would still spend 24 hours in similar ways, you leverage that time for yourself to become a businesswoman on the side. That’s great.

Natalia Vtyurina 52:30 I start the stretching as my business because by establishing this local chapter, I had to go through more or less the same steps. What do you need? When do you start the company? Right? What do you need, you need a website, you need a phone number, you need some sort of accountant, finance, you need to take care of your finance. Right?

These are the three questions that you should ask yourself, like, how do I make it so that people know me? Do you need these three crucial things to take care of your finance? Let the people know that you have your website or some sort of way of communication and people can reach you. I just have done all the steps.

I do the website for the serious local chapter myself. I don’t how much time it will take. If you would ask me a few years ago, why don’t you create your website? I would say I have no clue about how to do that. And now when people ask me, I could say okay, it will take you from this step to that step. It will take you three hours. And then you know how much time you need to invest. It’s relieving the stress and then you just go for it. I attribute one success in one field to another without any of these puzzles in my career.

Natalia 54:07 I have the same experience. I first created the foundation and I had to learn about business accounts and sales tax and all these basics about the taxes and velocity deeds and how it treats companies. That also helped me with a company later. There is one question related to this entrepreneurial part and then let’s get back to the consultancy. The question is do you share the intrapreneurial experience when you are in the job search?

Natalia Vtyurina 54:40 Yes, it’s this tricky thing that becomes now my business. It is always on my CV in the section of companies. I like to stretch and then it’s transformed. I give many stretching classes to a group of people. I have the name of the company that I run. It’s all the evolution of how it looked in my CV. That’s also changed and it gets stronger and stronger. When people asked me questions about my hobby, I was trying to tell the story of my business.

Natalia 55:24 I think this is a good question because depending on the recruiter, this can be either your strong side or your weak side. I guess that to some, this is a sign of very strong self-management skills and business thinking, which is always good. But to some, it might be an indication that you’re not fully focused and you have other important areas of life professionally. I think it also depends on who is reading your CV.

Natalia Vtyurina 55:56 I was at once invited to the interview because I also do martial arts. I do boxing. I was invited for the interview because the recruiter was very convinced. It was a sales position. He was convinced that people who do this type of sport disciplines are very persuasive. They have exactly the right skills to be a salesperson. That was very surprising for me, but he said, It has strengthened my CV. He believes that because of my sports attitude, I can apply the same attitude to the sale.

Natalia 56:39 That’s interesting. I haven’t heard of this. You need determination for both. Okay. Let’s get back to the questions about consultancy. One question we have from Monica is, how do you convince the industry that having a PhD is not a drawback?

Natalia Vtyurina 57:01 I would avoid it. I would not try to apply for a position where you have to justify yourself and convince but if you come to the point that you have to justify, you have to be prepared for this question. You have to draw exactly the similarities between industry and academia that they are there in place. And as I mentioned, in the very beginning, I was frightened and I don’t see any street striking difference.

We are all humans working in academia, in industry and communication will always be the first skill that you need in both industries. They have a structure. They have all their organizational structure in a certain way. If you look in the lab, and you just playing the role of only PhD person, you might not see that all the universities have a very extensive structure. You have a university hall, you have a rector, you have different faculties, you have institutions, you have a department, you have a division, and you have groups, and then you have postdocs.

You consider yourself and the university as a part of the bigger organization. You can also demonstrate your knowledge of the structure of an industry by giving an example of what you know, which was a structured University. You are in the interview saying that I had to report to my supervisor and the industry, I will have to report my manager. There are many examples like this.

I was asked questions about finance when I was a PhD. I had to look for different reactions. For example, if I wanted to buy a regional image for my project, I had to justify it to my supervisor, why do I want it? And I am sure that this is not the highest price that we can find something alternative. You also decide on finance within your project. This is what you do in industries? You’re trying to find a good product at a good price. More than that, You also sort of contribute to different parts of the group and if you consider your group as a micro company, then you will find even more similarities and all of the things that are there.

Natalia 59:50 I also think that sometimes, it’s good to search for places where there is a lot of PhDs already because then that’s some indication that they are familiar with the PhD culture already. You will not have to excuse yourself for being a PhD, unless you want to go somewhere where a PhD is so rare that it gives you some leverage, like some level of credibility. Sometimes, this academic title by your name in emerging fields can give you credibility. You know that there is no established working culture yet.

I see that in the blockchain. Someone that is actually dealing with blockchain projects likes to have at least one PhD on their team because that gives more credibility. You know, in that space, there are so many uncertain projects that have any stamps of quality, so that can be done completely. When PhDs are scarce, it makes you valuable. Okay. Next question. What about your prediction about radiopharmaceuticals jobs and business in European countries?

Natalia Vtyurina 1:01:23 I’ll be 40 either. I mean, I’m just a few months, seven months in a new industry. It gives me some overview but it’s not to such a level, especially specific radiopharmaceuticals. I mean, I even work with that at the moment. But what is the future of it?

Natalia 1:01:48 Okay. Guys, If you still have questions, just share them now. Because we are soon wrapping up. Let’s do five more minutes. And then we slowly wrap up. The next question is how was your experience with recruiters?

Natalia Vtyurina 1:02:12 The recruiters are the same people. It’s difficult to relate with recruiters. It’s the most difficult relationship that I had. Some recruiters or people rent their apartments. They usually compare them because it’s really difficult to agree with both. It can be a very interesting discussion with them but they always need what they want. You have to be very careful what you’re saying. And all the information has to be concise and specific.

Because the goal of the recruiter is to understand and to learn how to communicate with them. They tell us, like, what do they want, what kind of prefer information they want from you. It might be very controversial. It’s often what you say to elaborate too much about yourself. There will always be more opportunities to turn it against you, for example, stage of the hiring, or in the stage of the job offer. My experience with the recruiters was completely different.

Some people aren’t respectful. There is a lot of variety. These are recruiters that suit you well. These are like three or four or five people with whom I enjoyed the discussion. And I feel that they bring value, and they’re simply trying to help me in my career, and some people just don’t care and then you can sense it and after one or two or three conversations, you’ll realize that they are open. They are not the people on the line. It’s difficult to find a recruiter.

Once you find it, it’s a precious and beneficial relationship for everybody. I’m sure they meet a lot of people who they dislike, but they do have to deal with these people because they need to hire somebody. At the same time, you understand each other. You’re not afraid to say something additional because it can be used against you or something. If you find your best recruiter, it’s a relationship for lifetime.

Natalia 1:05:16 I can add to this that recruiters often also don’t look for necessarily the best candidate. Sometimes, their job is to find the safest candidate that will be most likely to do the job that they are asked to at this particular position. That’s the mental trap that PhDs can get themselves because the recruiters are not looking for another Elon Musk. They are looking for someone who fits the description as closely as possible.

Natalia Vtyurina 1:05:50 They also trying to find somebody who will take this role for many years that they don’t have to look for somebody else. And because of the loss of knowledge, that person leaves after one year, so they have their responsibility. It’s a very hard job. I cannot even imagine how hard it is to be a recruiter.

I think it is just about the relationship between you and the recruiter. In this case, it is a good chance that you will build a good relationship with your recruiter.

Natalia 1:06:32 Okay. I would like to ask you one final question, which is, do you have some general advice that you would give to young researchers who are still in their PhDs or still considering whether or not to change the career track? Something that you learned in the process?

Natalia Vtyurina 1:06:56 I think I will just repeat myself. Don’t expect that it will be easy. Expect that the job search will require you some time and investments. But at the same time, I think what should motivate you is that the more time you spend, there’s more likely that you will find something you’re passionate about. Okay. Try to twist it in a way that is beneficial for you not for your company, for universities, or your supervisor. Just think about yourself and I think this is the key to success.

Natalia 1:07:37 Okay, great. On that note, I would like to thank you for sharing all these insights with us. I wish you all the best with your career, especially the entrepreneurial part. That was my favorite one. And thank you so much for sharing.

Natalia Vtyurina 1:07:59 Thanks for inviting me. I wish you good luck, guys.

Natalia 1:08:02 Good luck. And thank you guys for joining. Good night.

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Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2020, June 21st). E007 How To Get Hired as a Consultant in Pharma as a PhD? How To Side-Hustle? On the Origins of BNFL? Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/career-development-strategies-e007-how-to-get-hired-as-a-consultant-in-pharma-as-a-phd-how-to-side-hustle-on-the-origins-of-bnfl/

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