In our journey as aspiring professionals, we will face a lot of challenging situations. How do you deal with the pressure that comes with achieving your personal as well as professional goals? Do you react impulsively or respond resiliently. We stumbled across this article by Uche Ezichi and he has graciously given us permission to share it here. I believe this is an important lesson to us all.
When I left my investment banking career, I was thrilled to join the Goldman Sachs (GS) HR team. Considering their performance, what better place to start my new career of developing leaders. So what went wrong? Nothing really changed with GS. My team remained the same, 100% dedicated to their job and willing to give 120%. The issue was with me.
Isn’t it funny how when we are not happy about our situation, we sometimes complain and expect our organisation or team we joined to change for us?
As another cohort of final year undergraduates prepare for their last exams, the next question usually is ‘What next?’ Postgraduate degree? Job? The transition from student to employee can be something of a mystery therefore our focus during #MyCareerStory is to shed some light on different career paths – paths well trodden as well as the road less travelled. We will be inviting professionals from a variety of disciplines to share their stories. In today’s article we discuss with Abiola Owolabi about developing her career in Clinical Research.
APH: Can you tell us about your educational background and career progression to date?
AO: Following my GCSE and A levels in the sciences, I chose a Biological Sciences degree, because of the wide spectrum of subjects it offered – biotechnology, biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology and statistics.
I have worked in clinical research for over fifteen years. Initially starting out in a forensic laboratory, I soon moved into the clinical research laboratories rising to managerial level before I discovered my main gifting was in clinical trial administration.
I am a highly motivated and disciplined individual, who loves to be organised and solve problems.
I have worked for clinical research organisations, such as Chiltern, Quintiles, inVentiv Health Clinical, Richmond Pharmacology, Retroscreen Pharmacology as well as pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Glenmark, Allergan and currently Biogen.
How did a graduate in Biological Sciences get into the world of clinical research?
You’ve done the research, you’ve ‘birthed’ your thesis, the last step between you and your PhD is the much dreaded viva voce exam. You have to sit in a room for a few hours to discuss your research and convince your examiners your work makes an original contribution to knowledge and is worthy of a PhD. In this article, Dr Emmanuel Mogaji reflects on his recent experience of undertaking a viva.
I was given six weeks notice to prepare for my viva. Even though I was quite confident about my research and my thesis, my approaching viva examination appeared very daunting. I reassured myself by telling myself I was going to enjoy my viva and not just survive it.To prepare myself mentally, I read articles and listened to various podcasts available on different websites.
When I heard former PhD candidates reflect on their viva experience, I always had this idea they had just survived it – akin to escaping from a lion’s den. I didn’t want to be like that, I wanted to enjoy every bit of it. My most important preparation though was reading my thesis from cover to cover.
As academics, we routinely come across students – undergraduate and postgraduate – enquiring into how they can get into a PhD programme. Our advice is always the same, do your research! In today’s #studentchat, Mohammed shares some advice for undergraduate students contemplating undertaking a PhD.
Research is fun! Contrary to popular belief, it is much more than hours on end based in a laboratory carrying out monotonous work. It is a much more wholesome and rewarding experience but it is not without its challenges.
I have been fortunate to be involved in research prior to undertaking my undergraduate degree. Now you may wonder, why burden oneself with extra work, isn’t working towards a first or a 2:1 enough? A decade ago, the answer to that question would have been yes. However today it is almost impossible to get into a PhD programme without some form of research experience under your belt. With this in mind, I encourage other undergraduate students to look out for opportunities to carry out some type of research from the beginning of their studies. You may be thinking, “I don’t want to do a PhD, let me get out and make some real money!” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that and no one should do a PhD if they do not really want to do it. However, for those interested, remember that research in itself can equip you with a range of transferable skills that are highly sought after by different employers.
‘What are your two greatest strengths? How do you think your greatest weakness will impact on your performance in this role?’
I was at a job interview. On the outside, I worked to project the confident, cool and collected interviewee. On the inside, I was on my knees begging ‘Please have mercy on this graduate in the wilderness of graduate employment for those of us without experience!’ I answered the technical questions with flair (at least I thought so). I talked about my dissertation, latest news in the sector…I could already see my staff ID card in the horizon. Then the question above was posed and I just went blank.
Thing is, up to that point, I had thought that interviews were only to test if an individual had the subject knowledge to do the job. ‘We are looking for an accountant, you are an accountant, you’re hired!’ However, prospective employers are also searching for an individual who is a good fit for their organisation. S/he has the knowledge and experience but…Is s/he a team player? Can s/he persevere through rejection? Is s/he inspirational? How does s/he manage conflict? Is s/he empathetic?