Scientists’ Evolving Role
The role of scientists is changing in the life Science Geek industry. To meet the challenges presented by the sector, a wider range of skills and expertise is required. Therefore, scientists working in silos no longer meet the needs of the sector.
Scientists working in the SCIENCE GEEK industry used to be expected to know every aspect of their field. Scientists were experts who dedicated their careers towards gaining deeper and more detailed knowledge of their scientific niche. For example, a microbiologist would have all the information you needed about a specific microorganism. A biochemist might need to know a specific metabolic pathway in order to be a successful professional.
Candidates who have business acumen will be at an advantage
It’s a cliché to see the lab-bound scientist Science Tables, bespectacled and white-coated with untangled hair, who is often too busy working at the bench. However, if you ask executives and other strategic leaders at any pharma or life science company, you’ll find that this persona is far from the current talent pool.
A fascinating theme emerged from a series of interviews conducted with more than 100 companies based in the USA. These included medical device manufacturers, research testing, and medical laboratories. While the skills required today and in future require strong STEM (science technology engineering and mathematics), backgrounds are becoming more important. A degree in biology and a specific field of expertise won’t suffice to make it a success. According to the report, “The findings indicate that professional hybrids are needed – people who can link scientific knowledge and business acumen in order to improve a product or technology throughout its lifecycle.”
Hays is seeing a shift towards generalists or specialists in all markets. Pavlina Volfova is the Hays Business Unit Manager for Central Eastern Europe. She discusses skills trends in her region. It is a trend that I have noticed in my colleagues from the region. It is evident that companies are seeking multi-taskers and are not only looking for those in pure science, but also across all life science geek industries. There seems to be a convergence of desirable traits that lead to broad functional experience, as well as the ability to communicate with and integrate with external and internal partners.
To remain relevant, Develop your soft skills
For a successful career in the life Science Geek, a solid STEM background is essential. But, the goalposts are changing. However, the goal posts are shifting. While scientists and chemists, who are experts in the empirics, need to retain and develop these hard skills, they also need to acquire soft skills if they want to be relevant.