Kalbinder Singh Sandhu
Biosciences Sales Specialist, Fisher Scientific UK
PhD Chemical Engineering (2007)
I undertook my PhD at The University of Birmingham, with a Post Doctoral Research position at University College Dublin, in Ireland. The research undertaken there was linked to experience I gained directly from my PhD. I came back to the UK and changed my career in order to work in business development for my current role.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
It provides a challenging environment which allows me to use the knowledge I gained during my post graduate studies, but also allows me to develop new skills for which I have had no formal training, i.e. in business.
How has your PhD helped you in your Career?
The company I work for has evolved and expanded over the past 10 years to become a premier supplier of Life Science Research products to the Research and Industrial community (which includes Pharma, Biotech, Academia, Healthcare and Research Councils). As a result, they have focused on recruiting more technical sales personnel that have direct experience in their target market. Having direct experience of research in Academia with a Life Sciences Focus has given me a distinct advantage.
What advice would you give to current PhD students?
When entering the job market there can be a tendency to pigeon hole one self to the narrow research area that one studied during their post graduate education, and this is fine if you have decided that this is your dream career. Otherwise, one should keep their options open as one may not realise that they can use the skills developed in a broad range of employment scenarios. Besides the usual snippets of advice to give in a tough and very competitive employment market e.g. to make a professional presentation, one must tailor their approach and presentation to each individual job description. Focus on your technical ability and knowledge gained during your postgraduate study. Also identify and focus on transferable skills ( e.g. project planning, data presentation, public speaking, report writing, strong IT skills, etc.) and highlight your positive personality traits and personal experiences in order to distinguish yourself from the other candidates, who will invariably have similar academic achievements.