Career talks

Career talks

We arrange meetings with PhDs who now successfully pursue careers in industry, as well as career experts and other professionals with interesting personal stories and insights about the job market worth sharing. We post the episodes on Sundays at 5 pm GMT (7 pm CEST) on our YouTube channel. To access the recordings of the previous episodes and read the guests’ bios, please scroll down the page. If you would like to receive such content on a regular basis, subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Of course, a good webinar is all about inviting guests who are mindful, have an interesting story behind, and are open to share the story with all the inventory. If you would like to be our guests, or you have an interesting person in mind, please share with us!

We would also like to take your questions on board!

Please find the list up upcoming guests below; we will take the questions that reach us no later than 48 hours before the episode – so, the deadline is Fridays, 5pm GMT before the episode airs!

Submit your questions!

Incoming episodes

December 6th 2020

Niels Zondervan

Niels Zondervan MSc is the founder and owner of the company Wallet Recovery NL. Niels is scientist and entrepreneur with a background in Biotechnology and Bioinformatics. During his four years as PhD student, Niels worked at the department of Systems & Synthetic Biology at Wageningen University. His research focused on pathogenic bacteria such as M. tuberculosis, M. pneumonia as well as Staphylococcus and Streptococcus species. These bacteria were studied using integration of multi-omics data, dynamic modelling, and genome scale modelling (GEM). After spending four-year in academia, Niels decided to switch career path from academia to entrepreneurship to find a better balance between his professional and family life.

In 2019 he founded his consultancy company, Wallet Recovery NL (https://walletrecovery.nl ) which provides: recovery services for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, blockchain forensics services and expert advice to crypto and blockchain related projects. In his free time Niels likes to be involved in boards, discussion groups, crypto projects, practice parkour, martial arts, play the piano and travel the world.

December 13th 2020

Jonathan Weitzman, PhD

Dr. Jonathan Weitzman is a full-professor of Genetics at the Université de Paris and the founding director of the Center for Epigenetics and Cell Fate (UMR Epigénétique et Destin Cellulaire). He trained at the University of Manchester and the University of Oxford, UK. He worked at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA and was a faculty member at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Jonathan has a background in signal transduction pathways and expertise in gene regulatory networks and epigenetic contributions to disease. Jonathan has authored over 60 research articles and reviews and published two books for a lay audience. Jonathan is also passionate about teaching and is heavily committed to training and mentoring young researchers; he directs the European Masters’ in Genetics (Magistère de Génétique) at the Université de Paris and the Ecole Universitaire de Recherche G.E.N.E. Jonathan has led many interdisciplinary initiatives including the Laboratoire d’Excellence “LABEX Who Am I?” a research consortium focusing on questions of identity, the Académie Vivante, an innovative Art-Science teaching initiative and the “Dance Your PhD” graduate project. He is the co-host of the podcast “The Lonely Pipette; helping scientists do better science” (https://podtail.com/podcast/the-lonely-pipette-helping-scientists-do-better-sc/).

Previous episodes

Click on the guest’s photo to watch the recording of the episode

November 29th 2020

Nadia Holden, PhD

Dr. Nadia Holden is a cell biologist by training. In 2015, she earned her PhD from Stony Brook University, New York. She studied the role of lipid kinases in endocytosis and autophagy.

During graduate school, Nadia had a “mid-PhD crisis” when she realized she wanted to leave academia but didn’t want to leave science. Finding a lack of good career development resources for PhD students at her university, she decided to create her own. She designed a 9-step career development program for busy graduate students, called the PhD Career Ladder Program. In 2014, Nadia gave a TEDx talk called “Reimagining the PhD” to spread the idea that PhD training can no longer be viewed as a one way ticket to tenured professorship. The talk was watched over 250k times to date!

After graduating, Nadia transitioned to a career in science writing. She is currently a science writer/editor for the National Cancer Institute, where she writes about advances in all fields cancer research. She also helps create videos, graphics, and other educational materials dedicated to this topic. 

Fabio Gori, PhD

Episode 31

November 22nd 2020

Fabio Gori, PhD

Dr. Fabio Gori is a multidisciplinary professional, using his mathematical and data science skills to tackle industrial and biomedical challenges. While completing his degree in mathematics at the University of Pisa (IT), Fabio began researching the biomedical field; he liked it so much that he decided to keep working in the experimental sciences.

Therefore, Fabio began a PhD in Bioinformatics & Data Science at Radboud University Nijmegen in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The focus of his research was developing computational methods or the analysis of microbial communities. After completing his doctorate, he became a Research Fellow at the University of Exeter (UK), where he was using quantitative methods (bioinformatics, differential equation modeling, control theory) to study antibiotic resistance.

He later decided to move to the industry, and so he worked in the German biotech for precision oncology as a bioinformatics data scientist. He moved back to the Netherlands to work as a data scientist at the AI startup Machine2Learn, where he works both on industrial and biomedical projects.

Irina Sheftel, PhD

Episode 30

November 15th 2020

Irina Sheftel, PhD

Dr. Irina Sheftel (Simanova) is a neuroscientist with ten years of experience in neuroimaging research, as well as in coordination and management of research projects. She holds an MSc degree in human physiology (2008, Moscow University) and a PhD in cognitive neuroscience (2014, Radboud University). During her PhD and postdoc at the Donders Institute, she studied multimodal perception and object recognition in the brain. Last year Irina worked as Grant Advisor at the Vrije University Amsterdam, and she is about to start a new job as a Grant Officer at One Planet Research Centre. In this new position, she will develop public-funded projects within the program Precision Health, Nutrition and Behaviour. 

Next to her research career, Irina is a yoga teacher and yoga educator. She has been teaching hatha yoga since 2014. Irina works on integrating contemplative traditions and innovative research. In 2018 she joined Network Yoga Therapy, an international platform for education and support of healthcare professionals, where she helped to organize the Yoga Therapy Conference and several other science courses. Currently, she contributes as a guest teacher to the Yoga Teacher and Personal Development Training for Healthcare Professionals in Amsterdam. 

“I will be happy to talk about my experience in the field of grant advice/research support. I do not consider my path as a failure of a science career. Instead, it’s a shift to a new role that allows me to stay in the academic world, and fits my personality well. For a long time, I did not know that was possible. I will also be happy to answer questions about yoga and yoga therapy.”

Matthias Hombauer, PhD

Episode 29

November 8th 2020

Matthias Hombauer, PhD

Dr. Matthias Hombauer has a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology but decided to follow his passions, music and photography, and became a self-taught Rockstar Photographer. After his two kids were born, he decided to become a stay at home dad and built the most significant online community of concert photographers around the world from his bedroom. In his latest project, Dadpreneur (https://matthiashombauer.com/), Matthias is inspiring other Dads to turn their passion into a profitable business while gaining precious time for their family. 

In this episode, Matthias told us how he launched his business as a concert photographer, and how he turned to helping dads with businesses. He also shared his views at how to effectively convert your passion into a job.

Episode 28

November 1st 2020

Jennifer Polk, PhD

Dr. Jennifer Polk, is an entrepreneur, career coach, and expert on PhD careers. She earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts titles from Carleton University. In 2012, she earned her PhD in history from the University of Toronto.

In 2013, she launched From PhD to Life, a career coaching and speaking business. Since then, she’s worked 1-on-1 and in groups with graduate students and doctoral degree holders based in Canada, the United States, the UK, Australia, and elsewhere.

Jen has spoken on university campuses and at academic and professional conferences throughout North America on issues related to graduate education and career outcomes for PhDs. Her writing has appeared in the Globe and MailUniversity AffairsInside Higher Ed, the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae portal, and Academic Matters. Her University Affairs blog, From PhD to Life, won three gold awards at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards. She’s also contributed essays to two books: Moving On: Essays on the Aftermath of Leaving Academia, and Reflections on Academic Lives: Identities, Struggles, and Triumphs in Graduate School and Beyond.

She created and hosted Self-Employed PhD, an online network of freelancers, independent consultants, entrepreneurs, and small business owners. For three years Jen hosted #withaPhD chat, a twice-monthly Twitter discussion. She co-founded Beyond the Professoriate (2014-20) and in that capacity (among many other activities) produced online conferences attended by hundreds of graduate students, PhDs, and career education professionals.

Jen is actively engaged in online conversations about careers for PhDs, especially on Twitter (you can follow her at @FromPhDtoLife).

Carmen Rietdijk, PhD

Episode 27

October 25th 2020

Carmen Rietdijk, PhD

Dr. Carmen Rietdijk obtained her PhD in Neuroscience from Utrecht University in 2016. In her PhD, she investigated the expression and function of Toll-like receptors on enteric neurons, which is one of the mechanisms involved in Parkinson’s Disease. Today, she is actively involved in politics and a representative of the Dutch Liberal Democrats party (D66) in the city council of Utrechtse Heuvelrug. She covers the topics related to youth, families, education, healthcare, environment, and culture.

Next to her political career, Carmen is also a certified coach and offers one-on-one coaching to PhD candidates through her company CDr Coaching (https://cdrcoaching.nl). She supports PhD candidates who struggle with issues of motivation, emotional well-being, and stress. She coaches PhD candidates at all stages of their PhD: whether they are trying to find their way in their first year, facing a lack of motivation and confidence later on, or are wrestling with the last steps towards their PhD defense. She is also active on Twitter (@CDrCoaching) where she posts about PhD-related topics and answers questions posted by PhD candidates. She also writes a blog about how to cope with grad school.

In this episode, Carmen told us how she started her career as a politician after her PhD. How to get involved? What are the factors for success in politics? How to help PhDs to get through the graduate school and successfully complete their PhD program? How to marry a career in politics and a side-hustle as a coach with family life?

Episode 26

October 22th 2020

Nick Edwards, PhD

Dr. Nick Edwards is a neuroscientist by training, having completed his PhD and Postdoc training at Brown University, the NIH, and UC San Diego. As a Postdoc, he decided that business provided the best way to scale up solutions to problems he cares about. Since leaving the bench, Nick worked in business strategy at Boston Consulting Group and returned to San Diego to work for Illumina. Now, he is transitioning to a startup company in stealth mode. Nick is also the host of the Once a Scientist podcast (https://onceascientist.net/), where he interviews scientists about their careers in academia and beyond. He’s a passionate advocate for mental health and training the next generation of scientists who will change the world.

In this webinar, Nick told us about his odyssey through the job market after the PhD: from his work in sales in the startup culture, through his work as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group, to business development at a company in genomics, Illumina. He also explained the origins of the Once a Scientist podcast, and the mission behind it.

Episode 25

October 18th 2020

Davide Rigoni, PhD

Dr. Davide Rigoni is appointed as Professor of Neuromarketing and Management Psychology at Hult International Business School and he is part of the research staff at the Business and Marketing Department of the Free University Brussels, Belgium. His research on free will and decision making is published in high-tier peer-reviewed international journals in the field of psychology and neuroscience. He is also the founder of the International Center for Evidence-Based and Neuroscientific Education (ICENSE, https://www.icense.org/), a company that provides education, training, and consulting in the areas of neuromarketing, management psychology, and economic decision-making.

In this webinar, Davide told us why he decided to get out of his comfort zone and take a step towards building his own company operating in neuromarketing. What is the condition of neuromarketing today? How can neuromarketing improve learning online? What are the tricks that marketers use to influence our decisions? What are the next steps for Davide’s company?

Episode 24

October 14th 2020

David Mendes, PhD

(a.k.a. Papa PhD)

Dr. David Mendes completed his PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Coimbra (based on his research at McGill University). Since then, he has spent 9 years building his career in the medical communication and language services industry. After his PhD, he worked for 4 years as a Medical Writer in a medical communication agency, creating content for pharmaceutical sales training materials covering a wide range of therapeutic areas. David has since started his own business offering translation, revision, and connected services in the biomedical domain. Now a father of two, he is interested in exploring the different ways people have juggled professional and personal life after completing their PhD. To the wide audience, he is known as Papa PhD, the host of the Papa PhD Podcast (https://papaphd.com/).

Episode 23

October 11th 2020

Eric James Stephens, PhD

Dr. Eric James Stephens is the founder of #HireHigherEd, #ChangeHigherEd, and Thousand Plateaus Consulting, LLC. His organizations’ goals are to highlight the value of higher ed workers as they migrate to industry, government, and non-profits jobs outside of academia. During this foundational shift in the landscapes of higher education exposed by the COVID pandemic, Eric sees opportunity for change.

No one is happy with the state of higher education. Rather than theorize about change or offering just another white guy’s opinion on the “state of things,” Eric is committed to building a platform for others to share their stories. While earning a PhD in Rhetoric, Communication, and Information Design (Clemson University, 2018), he learned the importance of learning about others, hearing their stories, and helping to amplify those voices in a meaningful way that leads to action.

In this webinar, Eric told us about his personal story and motivation to launch his projects. We also talked about the values that industry rewards versus what we are rewarded for in the academic community. What are the biggest problems of the job market for PhDs these days? What is the best piece of career advice one can give? And lastly, what does Eric’s tattoo mean?

Episode 22

October 4th 2020

Parag Mahanti, PhD

Dr. Parag Mahanti is a life science professional with experience in life sciences strategy consulting, biotech valuations, and pharmaceutical access/commercialization strategy. Parag received his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology in 2013 from Cornell University where his research was focused on nuclear hormone receptors, steroid signaling, and metabolomics. He then transitioned to a career in management consulting at the IMS Health Consulting Group (now IQVIA) focusing on biotech/pharma strategy projects. Subsequently, Parag was part of an II ranked biotech equity research team at Barclays, where he focused on rare diseases (especially neuromuscular and ophthalmological diseases), gene therapy/editing/cell therapy platforms, and immunology/immuno-oncology companies. Since late 2018, Parag has been at Novartis, focused on strategic planning and operations around pricing and access, and is currently a Director of US Market Access Business Planning. 

Since 2013, Parag has also been a volunteer for the USA-India Chamber of Commerce in organizing the Annual BioPharma & Healthcare Summit at Cambridge, MA. Parag continues to be passionate about early stage startups within the healthcare industry and serves as a mentor for the Entrepreneurship Lab (ELABNYC) launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation to provide mentorship to biotech/health-tech start-ups.

Outside of life sciences and biopharma strategy, Parag’s passions include music, both playing and listening, and understanding the evolution of scientific reasoning and leadership skills. Parag takes an active interest in career progression of PhD students to explore and pursue non-academic careers and has participated in multiple career panels at Cornell, Gordon Conferences, Cold Spring Harbor Labs, and NYC-INET. Parag has also created PhD Career Networking Group https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8476427), a fast growing LinkedIn Group to foster career development of PhDs and graduate students which currently has 4,000+ members.

In this webinar, Parag told us his story and explained how he made his career decisions so far. He also told us about the origins of the PhD Career Networking Group on LinkedIn and the philosophy behind the group. How to network on LinkedIn? How to look for mentors? How to stay forever young? We touched all these subjects, and many more!

Episode 21

September 27th 2020

Lindy Ledohowski, PhD

Dr. Lindy Ledohowski (B.A., B.Ed., M.A., Ph.D.) was a former English teacher and then English professor in Canada before becoming an EdTech CEO for academic writing software platform, EssayJack (https://www.essayjack.com/). She has won numerous awards for her teaching, research, and publications, and is now an award-winning entrepreneur — among others, All Digital Schools Editors Choice 2020 (category: Communication with Students, English, Poetry, Reading, Teach Tools, and Writing), Pitchdeck Asia Startup Awards 2019 (winner of EdTech Startup Most Likely to Succeed), or Tech Edvocate Awards 2018 (finalist for Best Literacy App or Tool). She has published both peer-reviewed scholarship and popular pieces on writing and transitioning from the academy into entrepreneurship.

In this webinar, Lindy told us the story behind her decision to leave her tenure track. She also shared the origin story of her academic writing software platform, EssayJack. What was the motivation behind the project? What were the main bottlenecks so far? How to make sure that your online marketing works as expected? What is the secret behind the platform’s recent exponential growth? How to successfully develop a business as a couple? What is the most surprising and the most tricky aspect of moving from academia to industry?

Episode 20

September 20th 2020

Ricarda Braukmann, PhD

Dr. Ricarda Braukmann has a multi-disciplinary background in Psychology (BSc) and Cognitive Neuroscience (MSc), and she received her PhD in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience from the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands in 2018.

During her PhD, she went for an internship arranged by the Professional PhD Program from the PhD Candidates Network of the Netherlands (PNN, https://hetpnn.nl/en/category/ppp/). Her internship took place at the Social Sciences at Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS), the Netherlands institute for permanent access to digital research resources.

Today, Ricarda works as a Program Leader at DANS. As such, she is part of the policy and communication department and involved in various projects promoting Open Science and sustainable Data Management. Ricarda has, for instance, been involved in the creation of an online Research Data Management training module for early-career scientists (www.cessda.eu/DMGuide). She is also currently leading the engagement and communication work package of FREYA, an EU project on Persistent Identifiers (https://www.project-freya.eu/en).

In this webinar, Ricarda told us all about her job at DANS. How do the workflow and the management look like? What does DANS do for Open Science? What does a “career” mean in such a place? Ricky also shared her insights on how to be a happy PhD candidate and her approach to careers in general.

Episode 19

September 13th 2020

Alican Noyan, PhD

Dr. Alican Noyan has a background in Materials Science. He went for an industrial PhD program in Hewlett Packard in collaboration with the Institute of Photonic Sciences (Institut de Ciències Fotòniques, ICFO) in Barcelona, Spain. During his PhD, he developed and fabricated a novel self-cleaning surface for HP. After his PhD, he continued working at ICFO. During his 2-year contract, he developed machine learning models for several photonics research projects. For example, he built a neural network for object detection and another for image-to-image translation for a novel microscope. He also used other machine learning algorithms for finding patterns inside particle scattering profiles.

Today, he works for his own company, Ipsumio (https://www.ipsumio.com/), where he uses machine learning to solve problems in physics and healthcare for research groups and companies. He juggles his time between small consultancy projects and long term projects that might lead to the development of new diagnostic methods in healthcare and incorporation of new startups in the future. 

In this webinar, Alican told us how PhD programs in private companies such as Hewlett Packard look like. Do you also publish peer-reviewed articles? Who supervises you? How much is your PhD research influenced by the commercial interests of the company that hires you? Furthermore, Alican told us about his entrepreneurial endeavors. When did he first think about setting his own company? What is his business model? What are his plans for the future? What is his philosophy about building business and building life?

Episode 18

September 6th 2020

Danni Reches, PhD

Danni Reches received her BA in Middle Eastern Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands, during which she co-established a student society. As part of her BA, she spent a semester at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on an exchange program. Danni also holds a BA certificate (1 year) in Peace & Conflict Studies and an MA degree in Diplomacy (cum laude), a specialization in International Relations, from the University of Haifa. In this framework, she received a scholarship for outstanding students. Currently, Danni Reches is a PhD fellow and research associate at the Haifa Center for German and European Studies (HCGES) at the University of Haifa. Her PhD dissertation focuses on policy and perceptions of immigrants in Europe. For this research, Danni receives a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Her supervisors are Prof. Stefan Ihrig, head of the HCGES, and Prof. Ireneusz Pawel Karolewski from the Political Department of Leipzig University.

Danni also hosts the podcast “What are you going to do with that?” of the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa. In the podcast, she talks with early career researchers about their academic journey and raises awareness for mental health in academia.

In this webinar, Danni told us about her story so far, her motivation to help PhDs with their careers, the “What are you going to do with that?” project, and her outlook at the jobs for PhDs in humanities.

Episode 17

August 30th 2020

Jeffrey Glennon, PhD

Dr. Jeffrey C. Glennon’s story is very different from typical career stories in academia. After completing his PhD in neurophysiology at University College Dublin, for nearly 10 years, he was working as a pharmacologist in the pharmaceutical industry post-PhD at Solvay Pharmaceuticals. He developed a successful career in this area, but decided to continue his career in academia. 

In 2010, he returned to academia in the Netherlands and later in Ireland. Today, he works as a Senior Conway Fellow and Assistant Professor at the University College Dublin. He is a neuroscientist linking experimental psychology to biological mechanisms with a track record in industry and academic settings. His academic interests are in rule making / rule breaking processes in cingulate cortex that govern rational versus emotional decision making. As a translational neuroscientist, he seeks to implement basic and preclinical efforts into clinical practice relevant to patients. On a more fundamental level as an experimental neuropharmacologist interested in disease mechanisms, he has been examining the role of insulin signalling and particularly a class of potassium channels regulating insulin release in relation to behavioral inflexibility.

His interest in cross-disciplinary teams has resulted in the leadership as lead-Principal Investigator of a 5.4 mln Eur Dutch public-private consortium (funded by TI-Pharma) encompassing Dutch universities, university hospitals, and pharmaceutical partners. Further, he has led a 4.5M euro EU Commission FP7 funded consortium (MATRICS) on conduct problems. In addition, he has been involved both as work package leader and partner in six Horizon 2020 / Marie Curie ITN funded / EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) II consortia focused on neurodevelopmental disorders, adult psychiatry and psychiatric conditions in neurological and somatic disorders (type I myotonic dystrophy and type II diabetes). 

In summary, Jeffrey is an integrator. This pertains to people, research groups, complementary expertise, research ideas, and visions. This ability to integrate across people and topics to create platforms in which they can create new research together. Today, his wide contacts in both academia and industry allow him to build international networks across a range of expertise areas both in academia, in small-medium enterprises (SMEs), and major Pharma. This has led to novel translational treatment opportunities not only in Pharma but also in robotics. On a personal level, he has an innate curiosity over science and people, what motivates them, and how to develop them both as a person and as strong members of productive, effective multi-disciplinary teams.

In this webinar, Jeffrey told us about both his transitions: to the pharmaceutical industry and back. Why did he choose academia after all? What are the pros and cons of this choice? How does he stay positive no matter what? How to create your own opportunities?

Episode 16

August 23rd 2020

Adriana Bankston, PhD

Dr. Adriana Bankston is a Principal Legislative Analyst in the University of California (UC) Office of Federal Governmental Relations, where she serves as an advocate for UC with Congress, the Administration, and federal agencies. Prior to this position, Adriana was a Policy & Advocacy Fellow at The Society for Neuroscience (SfN), where she provided staff support for special and ongoing projects, including SfN’s annual lobby event and the society’s annual meeting. In addition to working at UC, Adriana serves as Co-Director of the Policy Taskforce at Future of Research (FoR), a non-profit organization that empowers early career scientists. She is also Chief Outreach Officer at the Journal of Science Policy and Governance (JSPG), a non-profit and interdisciplinary peer review publication serving as a vehicle for early career researchers to publish on science policy topics. More recently, Adriana became a Biomedical Workforce & Policy Research Investigator at the STEM Advocacy Institute (SAi), a think-tank building tools to expand pathways of access between science and society. Adriana obtained her PhD in Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology from Emory University and a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences from Clemson University.

In this episode, Adriana told us about her impressive career transition, and her long way from Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology to Science Policy. What does it take to make the transition? How to build your career in Science Policy? What can you do early in your career to prepare for the industry position? Let’s find out!

Episode 15

August 16th 2020

Natalia Bielczyk, PhD

Dr. Natalia Bielczyk is an entrepreneur, researcher, author, and philanthropist. She graduated from the College of Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Warsaw, Poland, with a triple MS title in Physics, Mathematics, and Psychology. Thereafter, she obtained a PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. In 2018, she launched a public foundation, Stichting Solaris Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling, aiming to help early career researchers find new careers in industry. She also owns Welcome Solutions, a company developing new tools and practices to help professionals in navigating on the job market, and in finding/creating their dream jobs. Even though she chose to work in the open market, she is still a researcher in her free time and has a strong belief in the compatibility of science and entrepreneurship.

In this special episode of the open Sunday webinar, Natalia talked about entrepreneurship for researchers. Is setting a company as a researcher hard? Under what circumstances should you consider registering a business? What are the traps you might potentially fall into? A startup or a sale proprietorship? How was Welcome Solutions created? What’s the vision, and the plans for developing the company further?

Episode 14

August 9th 2020

Victoria Sherwood, PhD

Dr. Vicky Sherwood holds a PhD in Biosciences from the University of Nottingham, UK. During her studies she worked on understanding the interplay between DNA tumor viruses and the host innate immune response. She then went on to do a couple of Postdoc projects, including one at Lund University in Sweden. During this time, she developed an interest in understanding the molecular basis for the development of metastatic skin tumors. This interest led her to start her own research lab in 2011 in the UK, where she ended up as a Principle investigator at the University of Dundee. Her research group worked on the development of novel therapeutic treatments for the deadliest forms of skin cancer. 

Despite her academic career track, Vicky had always harbored an interest in taking the plunge to experience life beyond academia and discover what else was out there. In 2017 she went for it, and made a career transition into the medical communications field. Here, she works on developing a variety of promotional and non-promotional materials for the cancer immunotherapy market. Her experience from this transition has sparked a personal interest in career opportunities for STEM researchers.

Since January 2018, Vicky has published her own blog, BiomedBadass (www.biomedbadass.com), revealing insights into the career transitions from research scientist to industry professional. The aim of the blog is to help researchers answer some of the challenging questions they face when considering an industry career. Questions such as; “What skills do I have that are useful in industry?”, “How does the work culture differ compared to academia?”, “Will I enjoy working in a company compared to academia?” and “What kind of opportunities are available to me?” to name a few. In this endeavor, she hopes this resource can provide much needed support for career planning by STEM researchers.

In this webinar, Vicky shared her impressions from leaving academia as a PI, her first steps in the field of Medical Communications, and talked about plans for her blog. She also gave us a lot of general career advice for easy career researchers.

Episode 13

August 2nd 2020

Mariam Kostandyan, PhD

Dr. Mariam Kostandyan obtained her PhD in Experimental/NeuroCognitive Psychology from Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. In her PhD, she worked with multimodal neuro-cognitive and behavioral techniques, such as behavior studies, neuroimaging, electroencephallography, pupillometry, and brain stimulation. In the process, she became a researcher with broad expertise in behavioral and (neuro-)cognitive studies with a strong emphasis on data-driven approach and data analytics. 

Yet, after her PhD she decided to step outside academia. Today, she works as a Research Consultant at a recruitment agency, Schelstraete Delacourt Associates. She is responsible for a strategic search for potential candidates on the executive level. She works with professionals across the board range of industries — from the agricultural industry to IT. Among other responsibilities, she determines the recruitment strategy based on parallels with the client or the nature of their business model, she conducts market studies to select the best candidates and conducts interviews with the candidates on the phone.

In this webinar, we will ask Mariam about her decision to switch from neurocognitive studies to recruitment. Is it difficult to make this jump? What is the most important while hiring executives? Is this true that most companies don’t trust in the management skills of fresh PhD graduates? How to increase your chances at the job interview?

In this webinar, Mariam told us about her decision to leave neurocognitive studies on behalf of the industry. How did she land a job in HR? What is the most important while hiring executives? Is this true that most companies don’t trust in the management skills of the fresh PhD graduates?

Episode 12

July 26th 2020

Alessandro Montalto, PhD

Dr. Alessandro Montalto holds a PhD degree in Statistical Data Analysis applied to neuroscience awarded by the University of Gent, Belgium. Before his PhD program, he completed his Master’s degree in Physics at University of Federico II in Naples, Italy. During his PhD, he developed a Matlab toolbox called MuTE to detect directed dynamical links among brain regions.

After the successful project in Gent, Alessandro moved to Sydney for a Postdoc project dedicated to complex systems. A few months into the project, he was hit by an overwhelming epiphany: he was pursuing an unfulfilling life, and the academic path wasn’t for him. He went through a tough time during which he came out of burnout and depression. Alessandro then decided to quit academia and start doing what he really loves: connecting, sharing, and helping. Thus, he went through an inner journey that led him to a certification in life coaching.

Alessandro envisions his life as a promoter and a facilitator of change. That’s why, after 15+ years of working remotely, Alessandro now helps other fellow remote workers create the most burnout-free and fulfilling remote work experience as a freelancer (https://www.alemontalto.com/). He shares his own life journey in combination with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) coaching tools. Furthermore, Alessandro freelances as a marketing consultant to help companies engage with their clients in a more human and team-oriented fashion.

In this episode, Alessandro told us about his long and painful transition beyond academia, his personal strategies to deal with pain, and about his approach as a Life Coach. He also explained how to become a Life Coach, and which qualities you need in this profession.

Episode 11

July 19th 2020

Patrick Britz, PhD

Dr. Patrick Britz holds a PhD degree in Biopsychology and worked on combining EEG and fMRI as well as on the interaction of emotion and attention. During his Ph.D., he started working for Brain Products GmbH as a Scientific Consultant and was offered to go to North America to work for Brain Vision LLC. From beginning as a Scientific Consultant, Patrick soon took over more responsibilities and in 2013-2019, was the President of Brain Vision LLC and in 2017-2019 was the President of Brain Vision Solutions Inc. in Canada. Brain Vision LLC provides solutions to the leading institutes, minds, and companies in North America to drive the most innovative research, as the distribution partner for companies of all sizes from academic startup companies to multinational concerns including Brain Products, NIRx, CGX (Cognionics), EasyCap, and CREmedical to name a few. 

In this webinar, we will learn what Patrick learned about the recruitment process in the times when he was working as a CEO and President of Brain Vision LLC and he used to review over 200 job applications (mostly, coming from researchers) a year. We will also ask Patrick how he sees his future professional career, and where on the job market are the best opportunities for researchers in his field of expertise. 

Since December 2019, Patrick works as the General Manager at NIRx GmbH in Berlin, an international company that provides life science comprehensive technology solutions for the most demanding investigative applications. NIRx GmbH offers a range of products based on multi-distance spectroscopic measurements. Patrick’s role is to drive innovation so that NIRx GmbH can offer the solutions you as a customer want to use in the future. Patrick perfected the art of predicting where the science will go next!

In this webinar, Patrick spilled some beans about the principles of the recruitment process. He acquired this knowledge in the times when he was working as a CEO and President of Brain Vision LLC and he used to review over 200 job applications (mostly, coming from researchers) a year.

Episode 10

July 12th 2020

Maria Otworowska, PhD

Dr. Maria Otworowska holds a PhD degree in the Computational Cognitive Science awarded by the Radboud University Nijmegen. Before her PhD program, she completed her Master’s degree in Cognitive Science at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. She also spent one year at Università Degli Studi Di Catania as an Erasmus student. During her PhD she, like many others before her and undoubtedly many after her, tried to explain how the brain works, with a focus on learning and decision making.

Towards the end of her PhD, she made one of the most difficult decisions in her life and she decided to leave academia and try her luck in “the real world”. Uncertain what to do, she randomly moved to Barcelona without knowing the language or anybody there, where she entered the corporate world as a data scientist at King, an independent unit of Activision Blizzard Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), an entertainment company producing games. As life experiences go, most of them are to a certain degree useful and educational, some may also be motivating, and such was this one. She quickly realized that the corporate world was not her life path, and it gave her all the courage and motivation needed to believe in her an original startup idea hat she got meanwhile, and pursue it full time. 

She quickly got sucked into the app dev world and her first “side project,” after many additional adventures, became her current life path. She went from cognitive science to… skincare and chemistry (but with a healthy dose of AI as well). Now she is a proud founder of Skin Bliss (https://skinbliss.app) and was awarded a place in one of the most important accelerators in the beauty industry—Sephora Accelerate—where she has been receiving mentoring and guidance on her business.

Episode 9

July 5th 2020

Mattias Hansson, PhD

Dr. Mattias Hansson graduated from a PhD program in Mathematics at Lund University in 2013, with a thesis entitled, “Statistical Segmentation and Registration of Medical Ultrasound Data.” He then completed a Postdoc project at the University of Copenhagen and subsequently, he worked as a Scientific Programmer at the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam. In 2018, he took a decision to leave the academic career track and become a Data Scientist. Initially, he chose to work for the Dept Agency in Rotterdam. However, as of now, Mattias works as a freelance Data Scientist. 

In this webinar, Mattias told us about his post-PhD experience so far. Was the choice to work for a consultancy company a good decision? How did the corona crisis affect his job perspectives? How does he spend his time these days? How does he see himself in the future? Is it worth to do a PhD?

Episode 8

June 28th 2020

Andre Marques-Smith, PhD

Dr. Andre Marques-Smith was born in Portugal to a mixed Scottish and Portuguese background. After undergraduate studies in Psychology, he completed his PhD at the University of Oxford, mapping the development of sensory cortical neural circuits in neonatal rodents. In early post-doctoral work at King’s College London, he studied the role that genes play in instructing neurons to form the right connections. He then shifted to systems neuroscience, completing projects on the development of electrophysiological tools for simultaneously recording hundreds of neurons and on neural circuits underlying instinctive vision. 

However, even though Andre developed a career in science — including publishing his work in the most prestigious research journals such as Science, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron & Nature Communications — and got all the credits to stay in academia for a lifetime, in 2019, he took a personal decision to pursue a new challenge and direction in his career. After a period of self-study on Deep Neural Networks and Reinforcement Learning, he joined CoMind Technologies to work on building a wearable brain-computer interface. He is very open about his motivation and life philosophy, and he is eager to help other researchers who are hesitating on how to pursue their careers.

In this webinar, Andre told us how he re-qualified from an experimental neuroscientists towards an expert in programming neural networks — all by himself and using only the knowledge acquired online. He also shared why he believes that the startup culture is particularly welcoming to PhDs, and why it is easier to thrive in a startup than in a corporation.

Episode 7

June 21st 2020

Natalia Vtyurina, PhD

Dr. Natalia Vtyurina was trained in Russia as a fundamental Physicist at Lomonosov Moscow State University (2011). She successfully graduated as 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 towards 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 a 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 towards 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.

Episode 6

June 14th 2020

Peter Lewiński, PhD

Dr. Peter Lewinski is a University of Oxford graduate with Postdoc/Assistant Professor in economics from the top business schools, with hundreds of citations and 8 years of experience in AI. He is a recipient of Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship for his PhD at the University of Amsterdam. After his PhD, he worked as ING Bank director of the Credit Risk Modeling department and London Mayfair Fintech associate. Currently, he works as a management team member in four Amsterdam deep tech startups, driving sales/business development (earlier: R&D).

In this webinar, Peter told us about his unusual journey from his Master’s studies at the Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, to where he is now – management teams of four deep tech startups at a time. Why did he quit his position as an Assistant Professor in a prestigious business school? Why did he choose to take a loan in a bank to do yet another Master’s program after quitting his Assistant Professorship position? Why did he choose to work under the radar and not promote himself on the media? What is the only thing that you cannot buy with money? In this webinar, he told us all this, and much more!

Episode 5

June 7th 2020

Ian Cameron, PhD

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, 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 towards the societal applications from 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 behavioral 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 in order to work as a business developer.

Episode 4

May 31st 2020

Leonardo Morelli, PhD

Dr. Leonardo Morelli works as Scientific Software Developer at Alten Nederland in Rotterdam since February 2020. Leonardo completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics at La Sapienza University, Rome (IT). Then, he moved to Leiden, the Netherlands for his PhD program in Mathematics. Although he insists that his PhD research in Mathematics concerns how the “Hola!” waves at football stadiums propagate, his research employed highly technical mathematical tools both on the theoretical and on the computational side. Halfway through his PhD program, he decided to switch his career path to the industry world — yet still, it took him another couple of years to find a topic that he would be passionate about.

In this webinar, Leonardo told us how he got his first job outside academia, made his first steps in the consultancy world, how to recognize a good employer, how does the scrum technique work, and how he feels like – as an Italian in the Netherlands.

Episode 3

May 24th 2020

Maciej Jedynak, PhD

Dr. Maciej Jedynak holds a PhD in Computational Neuroscience (Cum Laude), an MS diploma in Computational Physics (Cum Laude), and a Postgraduate diploma in IT systems design. Before his Master’s studies, he was also working as a Research Assistant at the University of Iowa. 

Maciej was never faithful to one single domain; during his studies he coauthored a publication on complex networks, only to move to the field of particle physics, where he did his Masters and stayed for one more year of PhD studies, working for CERN and BNL experiments. Being faithful to unfaithfulness he quit and moved to industry, where he earned a long track record of IT projects. In particular, he has years of experience in telecommunication companies where he worked as an IT Specialist, responsible for IT project development, from requirements analysis to maintenance on production. Currently, Maciej works on human brain functional tractography at Grenoble Institute of Neuroscience as a postdoctoral researcher and a member of the Human Brain Project European collaboration.

In this episode, Maciej reveals why he decided to leave his well-paid and diverse job in the Telecommunications industry to embark on the academic journey. What are, in his mind, the similarities and differences between the academic and the industrial life? How to make sure that you will work for someone whom you enjoy and respect? How to actively (rather than passively) look for jobs?

Episode 2

May 17th 2020

Annika Rausch, PhD

Dr. Annika Rausch works as Data Scientist and Consultant at the IT service provider Ordina Netherlands. Before switching to industry, Annika studied Psychology at the University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, after finishing high school in Germany. She finalized her Bachelor thesis on the topic of motor learning in 2011. She also obtained a Minor in International Business at the University of Twente. Annika later started the two-year research Master Cognitive Neuroscience at the Donders Institute in Nijmegen in 2011, where she specialized in functional connectivity fMRI analysis in Autism Spectrum Disorder. In 2014, she continued working on this topic as PhD candidate within the European EU-AIMS LEAP project, where she developed a keen interest in data analytics and obtained her PhD title. Today, Annika supports clients of Ordina with their digital transformation and implements intelligent systems that help companies with, e.g., automated decision-making processes. She first got hired by the Nederlands Woning Waarde Instituut (NWWI) in January 2019 where she implemented and developed automated validation tools for property valuation reports. She just started her second assignment via Ordina with the Dutch national police in April 2020.

In this webinar, Annika told us about her job as a Data Scientist and Consultant at the IT service provider Ordina Netherlands. Why did she decide to choose this particular job? How did the job interview look like? What are the main pros and cons? Are the legends about consultancy companies true – is the working pace really that fast? What is Annika’s relationship with her job and with her colleagues? Will she get a raise?

Episode 1

May 10th 2020

Claudio Corrao

Claudio Corrao is a Leadership and Team Performance Coach that focuses on creating healthier working cultures in startups and organizations (https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-upgrade/). His goal is to foster a sense of meaning, trust, engagement, alignment, and creativity among team members and organizations as a means to achieve healthier work environments that lead to higher levels of employee satisfaction. Claudio conducts workshops on how to influence our minds to define our vision and how to use the inner motivators that push us forward and overcome the saboteurs that hold us back, with the final goal of gaining the results that we want. He has coached several startup founders on providing them with the clarity and strategic plan that they needed to bring themselves and their companies to the desired state. With a background in business management and leadership, Claudio is passionate about communication, human behavior, leadership, and organizational culture.

In this webinar, Claudio focused on how to nail the job hunting. How to spot a job, a career, or a “calling”? What do they mean, and how to approach them? How to give ourselves a purpose, a vision, and goals, which are especially important when looking for jobs? How to develop a value-based approach? How to master self-expression when applying for jobs?