PhD Career Stories is a podcast where PhDs share their stories and experiences in life after a PhD, inspiring you to take the next step in your career development!
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#110: Interview with Headhunters from GE Hunter
In this episode, Tina Persson interviews Grażyna Żywot-Ciecierska and Ola Samuelsson, who are co-founders of a global company called GE Hunter. They are experts in headhunting, recruitment and client advisory.
They have 20 years of international experience in finding talents for the pharma, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), medical, industrial and more sectors.
Ola Samuelsson specializes in roles within Finance, Supply Chain, IT and Manufacturing, while Grażyna Żywot-Ciecierska’s expertise are roles within General Management, Sales, and Human Resources.
In the interview, the guests talk about the headhunting process such as identifying the most suitable candidates to the right companies and positions. This involves a well-structured process where candidates are coached to identify their interests and motivations. Finally, they match what candidates are looking for with the client’s expectations and vice-versa.
At the end of the episode, they share important tips for PhD candidates who are looking for jobs:
1. Be passionate about your interests.
2. Be motivated.
3. Be yourself.
4. Be social and communicate frequently.
Are you in the job searching phase of your career?
If so, you should definitely listen to this episode and take these tips with you.
Enjoy the interview!
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Tina: Hi and welcome, this is Tina Persson, founder of the podcast PhD Career Stories. Welcome to this episode, it is indeed a very exciting one because I have two guests here and you know what, they are headhunters, real headhunters from Europe. We have Ola Samuelsson sitting in Barcelona, Spain, and we have Grażyna Żywot-Ciecierska sitting in Poland. So very welcome to my podcast!
Ola: Thank you very much.
Tina: So, do you know what, I have followers here and I know from them that they are very curious about headhunters. So my first question is how did you end up in the headhunting business?
Ola: Well, I have been in the business now for about 10 years, which is much less than Grażyna and my colleagues. Still I always had some kind of interest for this business and that (unclear) experience as being a candidate. And being a candidate to recruiters, I actually had many times a bad experience. There were times when I was approached and nothing happened and sometimes I was approached. We had an interview and I was quite excited and this was a very interesting project and then - silence, nothing happened. So I have always been thinking before I joined GE Hunter “this is an interesting business”, but also “we can do much better”. I think there's a lot of room for improvement, and I still think there are many players that are very professional and do a good job, but still there are also many who don't do the job as it should be, and I think that also contributes a bit for some bad reputation or skepticism towards the industry.
Tina: I think that's a wonderful drive you had actually because I remember, from those who listen here, I wasn't recruited about 15 years ago and that was my drive into the business, I applied for a job and I've felt misunderstood and they didn't come back to me, they didn't give me feedback so that also drove me into the business a long time ago. You have been in the business Ola for how many years?
Ola: Yeah, a bit more than 10 years, we started GE Hunter in 2010.
Tina: And Grażyna how did you end up in the business?
Grażyna: Thanks for this question because it's always good to have some kind of reflection on how things started. Actually I had the dream to combine my education and I have graduated from oriental studies. So I wanted to combine my general interest in people with my education, which means how can I maybe help people, how can I support people, how can I share my knowledge on some cultures to
#109: Kathleen Champlin Story
Kathleen Champlin graduated with a doctorate in Contemporary American Literature from Ball State University in Indiana (USA) in 2015. Currently, she is an online writing tutor with Pearson's Smarthinking and a copyeditor for several companies.
In this episode, Kathleen will provide an example of a disabled PhD's career transition in the humanities. From her story, you can learn how her disability impacted her academic and professional paths and how she was able to overcome the many barriers that came up along the way.
Kathleen will also share how her love for the written word has been a driving force throughout her journey and how she hopes to contribute to a world without ability barriers.
My name is Kate Champlin. I have a PhD in literature from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA. I’ve trained in online college teaching, but I’m currently an online writing tutor and copyeditor. My story is unusual for two reasons: I’m changing careers post-PhD and when I went to graduate school, I was already deaf.
A little background: I started losing my hearing when I was around 18 and lost it completely when I was 24. I’ve got a genetic disorder that makes benign tumors grow (among other places) on both hearing nerves. I was diagnosed in the summer before I started college. I went through about 6 years of college as a person with progressively worse hearing loss and 7 more years of college classes and dissertation work as a deaf person. I also started my first real career search 5 years after I went deaf. My previous jobs had either been assistantships from the colleges that I attended or jobs that I had as a teenager. American Sign Language is a common language in the USA and Canada. I’ve taken classes in it, but I never really learned the language. My preference is written English.
Meanwhile, I’ve always loved English literature classes. I took advanced English classes in high school and signed up as an English major without hesitation when I first went to college. After my senior year, I was invited to teach and earn a Master’s degree at Pittsburg State University. I enjoyed teaching, and I realized that I wanted to teach college classes professionally. I needed a PhD to teach college classes so, at that point, a PhD seemed like the natural next step on my career path. At the time, I’d known for several years that I’d eventually lose my hearing and, by the time I enrolled at Pittsburg State, I knew I was going to lose my hearing within the next couple of years. I reached out and asked several people if I’d be able to teach online classes when I had my doctorate. They all told me that online classes were the future of education, and that there would be a market for online teachers by the time that I got my degree. Unfortunately, the prediction turned out to only be sort of true. I’ll discuss that more when I talk about my career change.
People ask me how I overcame my disability but, the truth is, I have no choice. This is the body and the life that I have, and I have to live the best life that I can with them. I’ve had support from my family, the schools where I studied, and many people that I’ve met professionally, and that’s been wonderful. I’ve had the opportunity to join the workforce after I went deaf, and that made my survival possible.
My first experiences at college were interesting, and my disability only added a little bit of difficulty. I had fairly normal hearing for my first four years of college. For my last two years as a hard-of-hearing person, someone hooked me up with CART captioning, a system where a court reporter listens to classes or conversations and types them on a computer screen. It can either be done remotely through the internet or the reporter can attend the class. I used the first method while I earned my master’s degree and the second method while I got my PhD. There have been times when the equipment or somethi
#108: Adriana Bankston Story
In this new episode, Adriana Bankston tells us about her career story. Adriana is a Principal Legislative Analyst at the University of California Office of Federal Governmental Relations in Washington, DC, where she serves as an advocate for the university with Congress, the administration and federal agencies.
Adriana grew up in a family of scientists, which made her interested in pursuing a research career. She earned her PhD in Biochemistry from Emory University and later on she managed to transition into science policy through a number of volunteering opportunities. While exploring the several options, she became interested in academic training and the connection between science and society and got involved in organizations that work on training the next generation of scientists. Along the way, she held some leadership positions where she built her brand in science policy coupled to training activities and got involved with non-profits that advocate for early career trainees. This has opened a new avenue to her to connect federal policy to university research and training the next generation of scientists. And made her realize that it is a path for her!
Finally, Adriana shares key skills and qualifications that one needs in science policy:
Be used to fast-paced environments. Prioritize projects and be able to shift from one to another. Look at how you might be able to impact policy in real time by responding to agency requests for information or contributing to legislation. Interested in policy and science? Listen to this episode to get insights into policy roles and skills for a career path in science policy. Maybe it will also be a path for you? Enjoy listening!
The interviewed author expressed their personal views and not the views of their employer.
#107: Rachel Kindt Interview
In this episode, Tina Persson interviews Rachel Kindt. After a PhD in Biology and a postdoctoral fellowship, Rachel dove headfirst into the biotech world, working her way from the lab bench to the corporate boardroom over her 20+ year career. Leveraging her scientific training and acquired - some might say improvised! - business savvy, she led drug development teams and built high-performing organizations. Rachel is known as a master facilitator, dedicated coach and mentor, and keen thought partner in scientific leadership. She is now coaching, consulting and co-authoring a book of career advice for scientists.
Rachel tells us about her exciting journey and career path that took her from a bench scientist, to leading a research collaboration, to being a leader and project manager in drug development.
Project management is a focus topic in this interview. What is a project manager? What are the skills required for a project manager role? How to grow as a project manager and how long does it take to be good in this role? What managerial titles do we have today? And what is the difference between a project manager, a program manager and a team manager?
All these questions - and much more - are answered by Rachel.
Finally, Rachel closes the episode sharing three tips for people applying for project manager roles:
Learn the language of project management.
Look at what you have done that is already project management.
Focus on the people’s aspect of the work you have done versus the technical aspect.
Listen to this episode to get inspired by Rachel’s journey and her valuable tips for a successful project management career path.
#106: João Graça Story
João Graça holds a PhD in Biosciences from Cardiff University and currently works as an R&D Project Manager for LIPOR, the entity responsible for waste management in Greater Porto (Portugal). His current projects mostly concern the valorisation of bio-waste to high-value products. João has been involved in the creation and coordination of Smart Waste Portugal Young Professionals (SWYP). This group, currently with 80 members, aims to create work and knowledge sharing networks between professionals working or interested in the circular economy. Prior to his current role at LIPOR, João has attained different positions in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industries including Biological Scientist at LIG Biowise (UK), Early Stage Researcher at AstraZeneca (UK) and Research Intern at Anacor Pharmaceuticals (USA). In addition to the PhD, João also holds a BSc in Biosciences from the Catholic University of Portugal and a MSc in Biochemistry from the University of Porto.
In this episode, João tells us about his career story and professional journey, holding several roles in different Life Science fields and different countries. He talks about the reasons that led him to do a PhD, as well as the opportunities and challenges encountered along his path.
He closes the episode sharing valuable tips:
If you are not 100% set on an academic career, find an industry experience as soon as possible. If you are considering a PhD position, make sure you have an affinity with your supervisor and future colleagues. It is also important to be fine with working conditions, infrastructure, resources and city. Participate in work groups of your topics of interest. Do not be afraid to contact researchers or interesting entities to get to know more about their work and to work in collaborations. If you are finishing or have just finished your PhD and are set on breaking from academia, first explore what career options are available, get information and talk with professionals from different areas. Define the area to pursue and develop the requirements to break into that area. To know more about João’s story and the opportunities in the Life Science fields, please listen to this episode.
#105: Interview with Lauran Fuller
In this episode, Tina interviews Lauran Fuller. Lauran is a mother of three, an entrepreneur, and a doctoral student. For the past 7 years, she has owned and operated a dessert bakery in southern Oklahoma. She wants to take the lessons learned along her journey and educate others. She is particularly keen on self-development and work-life balance, as prioritizing her family has posed its own challenges along the way. Focus and determination drive her every step of the way, as her educational pursuit has not slowed her entrepreneurial spirit.
Lauran talks about her experience being an entrepreneur and a mother at the same time. Having her own business has given her the flexibility to successfully manage her family. She closes the interview with valuable tips to women having entrepreneurship and leadership career goals:
Nail down your passion and your desires Design a life that fits that Pursue it- Don’t let anything stop you and stand in your way Make sure you decide what to do and how to do Find the community that supports your decisions and directions. Listen to this episode to hear more about a good example of a woman entrepreneur who successfully maintains her work-life balance, managing doctoral studies, a bakery and 3 kids!