#APHCareerChat – 4 Ways to Kickstart your Productivity

productivityHappy New Year! It’s the second week of January and we are;
on our detox diets, #wholefoodchallenge, cringing when we look at our credit card statement, waiting for a treadmill at the gym (give it a few weeks) etc. We are also being bombarded by a plethora of adverts about the latest books, articles, podcasts etc. teaching us how we can lose weight, get a better job, find love etc. in 2017!
In the spirit of our tradition in the Hub of starting every year on a reflective note, I started thinking about how I would like 1 January 2018 to look like. Then I worked back to what I would need to get done in 2017 to ensure I hit my target(s). This ‘Beginning with the end in mind’ exercise was a great reminder that to have different outcomes in 2017, I would need to do things differently. In the words of Maya Angelou, ‘Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.‘ In this article, I’ll share four things I am determined to do differently in 2017.
1-computernotepad‘Not resolutions but determinations!‘ – I have no problems with making resolutions at the beginning of the New Year because it indicates at least an exercise in reflection! I didn’t make any resolutions this year because sometimes my list of resolutions ends up looking like a wish list. I decided to change my verb from ‘resolve’ to ‘determine.’ If you have a list of resolutions, try adding ‘I am determined to…’ in front of every action. Making it personal is a reminder that we have an important responsibility in ensuring we get the outcomes we want.
How many people start each year with a resolution to find another job? If January 3 was a tough day for you because it took everything to drag yourself out of bed to a job you hate, why not make 2017 the ‘I am determined to get a new job’ year. There is a way using the word ‘determined’ forces one to set realistic goals. Make a list of 3 things you are determined to do this year and set at least two Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound goals underneath them.
For example, for someone determined to start a new job in 2017, some goals could be,
a. Update CV and LinkedIn profile by January 31 2017.
b. Upskill by attending x number of training workshops.
c. Send x number of job applications off each month.

#EntrepreneurChat – Is it time to shake up your business strategy?

The business environment around us is constantly changing. Successful organizations have to learn to adapt or face the prospect of their competitors ‘eating’ into their market share. The ability to navigate ‘new waters’ is important to all entrepreneurs – whether you are a sole trader or have 1,000 employees! In today’s article, Adeyinka shares steps aspiring entrepreneurs can utilise to ensure their businesses succeed in spite of a changing internal and external environment.

Let’s take a look at Burger King. Once ranked number two on the list of top fast food chains, it now finds itself number 5 in the top 15, according to Business Insider. In 2012, the top 15 fast food chains ranked in the nation had a combined $115 billion in sales. It may sound like this is a good thing for Burger King with sales of $8.4 billion and 7,231 locations right? The fact is that they are losing market share to Wendy’s, Starbucks and Subway which is reason for concern. Additionally, Burger King have Taco Bell in the number 6 spot nipping at their heels. So what has Burger King done?  They are now one of the first fast food chains to come to market with turkey & veggie burgers – tapping into the health conscious and vegetarian consumer market. Like Burger King, every business, whether large or small needs to be able to recognize when it’s time to shake things up.

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Dr Leon C. Meggison misquoting Charles Darwin

The Entrepreneur’s Corner: Time Management for Busy Entrepreneurs

You’ve taken the plunge and started working on transforming your business from an idea to reality. Things are going well, customers are taking interest, new ideas for expansion but growth comes with its own pains. How do you keep up the pace? How do you grow your business and manage the responsibilities that growth entails? In today’s article, Adeyinka Ojo, a business consultant, shares some ideas to enable you deal with time pressures on your journey to success.

Entrepreneurs are a special breed. You have a 24/7 job. If you are like me, your mind rarely shifts from your business. In the first few weeks of starting my business, I discovered that there never seemed to be enough time in a day to get everything done! Surprisingly, I also realised, from talking to other entrepreneurs that I was not alone. I recently spoke with an entrepreneur in another country and marveled at the commonalities in how we work – which is pretty much non-stop.

Knowing that your job as a small business owner requires you to wear many hats and work long hours – some of my best ideas come into my head between 2:00 – 4:00 am! – you may ask yourself ‘How can I keep up with this pace and avoid burnout?’

Here are four tips that you can use to keep yourself on track.

Career Options for Life Science Graduates – Part II

In last week’s post, Emmanuel discussed several career options and pathways for life science graduates and for anyone interested in a career in the life sciences. In part I , the following areas were discussed; Teaching, Lecturing, Research, Transition to medicine, Business management and entrepreneurship and Sales.  In part II, we will now conclude on other career options including non-traditional career routes that are open and might be of interest to life science graduates.

Graduate School (PhD & Professional Doctorate) – whilst a number of life science graduates are interested in transitioning to medical school, a larger number of life science graduates proceed into postgraduate studies. This might be studying for a MSc degree, Masters by way of research or Masters Philosophy (MRes or MPhil) or a PhD. There has been an increase in the numbers of graduates embarking on postgraduate studies in the life science subjects in the UK perhaps due to difficulties in finding jobs upon graduation or the hope of better job opportunities with a higher degree. To embark on postgraduate studies in the UK, a minimum of a 2.2 is required i.e a GPA of 2.5 – 3.0 (dependent on University). With a 2.1 (GPA 3-3.5) classification, life science graduates are able to apply directly for PhD studies in the UK and in other countries. More universities in the UK now offer professional doctorate degrees which are equivalent to a PhD but focuses on the context of the workplace or practice of the applicants. Graduate school in the UK and USA are slightly different in the structure and modalities (we will expand on this later on in the future). We do encourage graduates to consider postgraduate studies as a great option however not before exploring the range of opportunities available to them first! After all, not everyone in a great career or job in the life sciences is a masters or PhD holder.

Forensics – Ever watched CSI, Bones, Law and Order or other US or UK TV Crime Drama? If you have, you’ve probably  imagined yourself as a forensic scientist or cool scientist, paleontologist or anthropologist of some sort. In our experiences dealing with prospective students interested in life science subjects we often find those interested in the area of forensics simply because of the television dramas. As scientists, we do welcome the interest created by such shows though we occasionally advise the young enthusiastic kids that life as a scientist is not usually or always as glamorous as the television dramas show. To embark on a career in forensics, a good degree in biomedical, biological or forensic science is a starting point – it’ll also help to study some chemical science or molecular biology during your degree. I (Emmanuel) remember interviewing for a role as a forensic scientist with the forensic science service (FSS) many years back and was presented with a very technical laboratory based practical alongside the formal interview. Thus, you will need good laboratory or technical skills to go with your degree.

Advisory and Consultancy – Do not be surprised about this, there are several advisory roles open to life science graduates globally. Several companies offer roles for Scientific Advisers, Medical Advisers, and Life Science Advisers. To be eligible for these posts, you will need a good honours degree (2.1 and above) with other skills such as good communication, analytical and presentation skills among others. Consultancy is also another area open to life science graduates and whist this is not a very common option for recent graduates, postgraduates (often PhD graduates) and experienced life science professionals work as consultants either on short term projects or in full time roles.

Scientific & Medical Communications – Life science graduate, not-interested in laboratory work but very capable when it comes to reading, analysis, interpretation, presentation and writing scientific or technical material? If yes, then a life in scientific or medical communications might just be the right career path for you. The terminologies for these roles are often interchangeable and sometimes these roles are also referred to in the same context as healthcare communications and medical writing. Many scientific organisations especially the biopharma sector contract some of the technical writing to medical communications firms who employ life science graduates to produce reports, study designs and writing of core scientific and general materials. This is a highly sought after career hence it is very competitive albeit with good remunerations. As usual you will be required to have a good honours degree and in some cases a postgraduate qualification and evidence of your ability to write including ability to design online materials which may or may not include blogging. Some Universities offer MSc degree programmes in Science Communication which is open to people of other disciplines which offers intensive training on different ways to communicate science and graduates from such degrees go on to practice in different environments including media, journalism and politics. For a good example of a MSc Science communication degree, click here

Recruitment – who is better at recruiting a science graduate than a science graduate? Working as a recruitment specialist or adviser for recruitment firms or other organisations that employ science graduates such as career departments at Universities and Colleges is also a good career path. Several friends have embarked on the journey into recruitment and have found it informative and interesting. working as a recruiter can be difficult for many reasons but it is also a great career as you get to interact with many job seekers as well as companies and imagine how much you learn about some of the clients and their products when you work as a recruiter (the science is never lost outside the lab!)

Government and Politics – surprised about this? Don’t be! Following our involvement with events run by the UK Biology professional scientific societies we became more aware of the possibility for scientists to work directly or in close association to government and politicians. In the UK for example, the biology societies have a designated representative in parliament who acts as a liaison or link between government and the respective societies. Also, members of parliament (senators or the like in other countries) have scientific advisors in their staff who can advise them on matters relating to science within their constituencies. In recent years, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) have offered fellowships with research councils, learned societies and charities to sponsor PhD students and Post-doctoral candidates for about three months to carry out parliamentary placements. This offers experience for the fellows to learn about politics and policies also creating opportunities to work closely with politicians and law makers.

Life Science Solicitors – with the rising interest in medical ethics and law and with increasing discourse in genetics, climate change, assisted suicide and genetic modifications (GM) this is another interesting option for life science graduates. This would require undertaking a Masters degree or PhD degree in Bioethics and Medical Law or Jurisprudence. To embark on a career in this area, an undergraduate degree at 2:1 or above is required in the life sciences or other subject areas such as social sciences, law or medicine among others.

Whilst we highlight a range of career paths open to life science graduates, this is by no means the end of it. With the range of skills developed by life science graduates, there are undoubtedly other areas graduates of life science disciplines have found themselves so do not despair if you have not found something on here for you. if after reading this article, you have identified a career path that interests you, we would encourage you not to hold back and to chase your dream career.

For further detailed advice on Life Science Career roles and challenges, look out for our career profiles pages from people who have had success transitioning from University to professional life. To contribute an article, please contact us on @AspProfHub

 

The Entrepreneur’s Corner – Graduate Rejects

When you think about the term ‘entrepreneur’, what comes to mind? Major business oligarchs? Wealthy business moguls? Well think again! The idea of entrepreneurship is no longer a forlorn and unachievable dream. In the United Kingdom, there is a major drive to embed entrepreneurship into University curricula. In today’s post, we had the pleasure of interviewing Derek and Keara Mafohla, founders of ‘Graduate Rejects’, a social enterprise with the aim of improving educational standards for young children in Zimbabwe.

APH: Can you tell us about your educational and professional background?

DM& KM: The founders of Graduate Rejects are siblings Derek and Kearabiloe Mafohla. Derek is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Greenwich studying Computer Science whilst Keara Mafohla is a final year student at the University of the West of England studying Biomedical Science.

Can you give an overview about your business or enterprise?

Initially we formed Graduate Rejects as a charity in November 2011 but in January 2013 we adopted the social enterprise model.

Photo Credit: Nelson Vinod Moses
Photo Credit: Nelson Vinod Moses

Photo Credit: Nelson Vinod Moses

When we began, we concentrated on a small community in Tshabalala, Bulawayo the second largest city in Zimbabwe. We noticed that there was little educational activity within the community which left children and young adults engaging in drinking and other activities that made no contribution to a successful future. We (Graduate Rejects) decided to donate books to local schools and libraries with the hope of developing and encouraging a reading culture within the community.

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Our love for children and knowledge of the poor education systems they were exposed to were our biggest inspiration. Some schools in Zimbabwe have outdated educational systems and infrastructure. The resulting impact is that children fall into a cycle of attending school for a minimum of 11 years but failing to study further or achieving good grades. We are of the belief that if we are able to encourage proper and more modern ways of studying, children who cannot afford a good education can adopt self-study techniques. Importantly, we embrace the importance of a holistic approach to meeting the educational needs of children.

How important has social media and networking been to your business?

Interestingly for the past year we have been trying to raise money to build a website for our enterprise. We greatly acknowledge the importance of social media as it has helped us promote our work. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been our social media platforms of choice since they are free and easy to set up. We engage with a lot of people whenever we write any posts but also we are constantly seeking to learn from others who are interested and willing to share with us.

What are the challenges, if any, you face?

We come from a politically volatile country and whatever form of business or charity you choose, you have to bear that in mind. Shipping costs for the books we donate has always been and remains our biggest challenge. We find that many people are willing to donate books to us but the costs to ship the books are often prohibitive. We are self-funded and that also presents its own challenges. We also think finding the right model for children and adults to get actively involved to further improve study is often tricky but we are dynamic and open to ideas on how to actualise this.

Have you made any mistakes and what lesson(s) did you learn?

Expecting things to work accordingly! It is important to remember that things do not always go to plan but to remember that obstacles do provide an opportunity for personal development and learning.

Finally, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

In our experience so far, we suggest that if you are considering starting a business or social enterprise, keep a journal and document all your activities. This provides ‘fodder’ for reflection which is a useful learning tool. Finally, don’t give up when you are faced with challenges.

Please can you share your contact details

We can be reached on:

Facebook: Graduate Rejects Enterprise

The Entrepreneur’s Corner – My Scents-ible Fragrances

We recently caught up with Hugo, founder and owner of an online beauty, fragrance and cosmetics retail store.  After completing an MSc in information systems technology, Hugo started a cosmetics and fragrance business. Hugo’s business started as an SME but has grown into a company that currently trades across Europe, Asia and the Americas and has attracted the interest of major vendors in retail cosmetics services. In today’s Entrepreneur’s Corner, Hugo shares how he transformed an idea into a business. He also gives advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to delve into the business world.

Aspiring Professionals Hub: Please can you tell us about your educational and professional background?

I am an MSc graduate in Networks and Systems Security from the University of Kent and a BSc graduate in Computing systems from the University of Northampton. I have extensive experience in systems architecture and security, network design and specification, programming and telephone and mobile computing and technology. I now provide IT solutions and services for major organisations as part of a large organisational network in the South of England.

What was the inspiration behind Just you business?

My mum was the biggest inspiration and the drive behind the business. As a child, I always liked perfumes; not just the scent, but the psychological effects and the structural design of perfume bottles. I remember my efforts as a young boy to create what I presumed would be the ‘perfect scent’ spending all my hard earned pocket money on fragrance oil…sadly it ended badly. However, I refused to be discouraged, my passion remained and now I can proudly say that I not only create great perfumes but I am also able  to recreate scents that are unique and appeal to a knowledgeable clientele too.

How important has social media and networking been to your business?

I would say it has been very important to my business. As an online retail store, the core of the business is driven by online traffic. The impact and contribution of social media is immeasurable as new products and special offers are driven and publicised using this platform.  I also find it gives my customers a feeling of clones and direct association with the business especially a business that caters for personal items like perfume and beauty products.

What are the challenges, if any, you face?

Starting out in any business can be a challenge especially having an understanding of the type of products and all the paper work that might be required, for example,  legal documentation. In this type of business there are some specific challenges such as trying to gauge or anticipate customers’ tastes. I also found gaining access to the best suppliers in the market another challenge as atimes some of these suppliers work directly with other competitors in the market hence finding these suppliers and building a good working relationship with them is important. And the other thing, pricing!! Knowing what sort of pricing strategies and what the best prices in the market are, especially prices that beat the bigger competitors in the market.

Have you made any mistakes and what lesson(s) did you learn?

This is an interesting question. One mistake I can clearly remember is underestimating the size of the market and the amount of capital needed to get the business starting out and running effectively. Two key lessons I learnt in this business are: knowing when to stock certain products and at the right seasons as this can prevent non-performance of some products and loss of capital. The second lesson is also very important: conducting regular market research and running regular product performance analysis.

Who are your business role models, if any?

I never had any role models in the business world. I just had my interest and I followed it really.

Finally, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Think of what you love and genuinely have an interest in and go for it not what you think will make you money. Except if you are not planning on investing much of your time in the business.

Contact details

For more details on the online fragrance store, purchasing your own specially scented perfumes or creating your own business, contact Hugo on  +44 (0)  7821441313

#StartUps – Just Plain Charming!

Nina Gizzie is the founder of Just Plain Charming – designing , making and selling handmade and bespoke jewellery. She is a creative individual who started her jewellery business while studying for a degree in Biomedical Science, talk about enhancing your academic experience! She has been able to successfully blend her love for both microbiology and jewellery by designing exquisite microbiology themed pieces…taking her ‘bugs’ outside the petri dish. In this article, Nina shares how she converted her hobby into a business, her inspiration and advice for budding entrepreneurs who are thinking of starting something of their own.

Aspiring Professionals Hub: Please can you tell us about your educational and professional background?

I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science from University of the West of England (UWE) in 2014. My main employment is as a Graduate Assistant Researcher in Microbiology completing small research projects in collaboration with an industrial partner. I also have part time employment as a Climbing Instructor and Duty Manager.

APH: What was the inspiration behind Just Plain Charming?

I have always loved crafts and the sense of achievement that comes from making something yourself. I dabbled in all sorts of creative hobbies previously such as knitting, sewing and baking but first got the inspiration to make jewellery at the Bristol Harbourside festival. I was perusing all of the wonderful stalls and one with copper/bronze jewellery caught my eye. After buying a lovely copper beaded bracelet I asked the seller how long she had been in the business. She said it had started as a hobby but she ended up with so much stuff and had to start selling things. I just had a little passing thought of ‘I wonder if I could make this kind of stuff’ and that is how it all started. A few days later, I bought some items to play with such as beads, chains, and charms. The more I studied different techniques and designs, the more I found to do with different materials and it just keeps on growing! The inspiration for most of my products just comes from looking at existing creations and playing around with them to make them my own. The microbiology themed jewellery I do was inspired by my career path and although it may not have wide-spectrum appeal, I like how different and quirky they are.

I would like to say that the name just came to me naturally but it took weeks of juggling different names. I chose this one as all my products were based on using charms and I thought it was a cute play on the words. Only about half my current products now contain charms but the name still applies to the remainder of products being charming…well at least I think it does!

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Images courtesy of Nina Gizzie. Please do not use without permission.

APH: How important has social media and networking been to your business?

It has been crucial. To start with, social media was the only place I could showcase my products and is where I made my first load of sales. Although I now sell primarily at markets and don’t push sales as much on social media, I still show off items I have made on there to my current followers to get their views and opinions.

APH: What are the challenges, if any, you face?

When I first started out, it was fronting the initial cost. In the 8 months I have been in business, I have spent around £2000 which is a big cost, especially for a student. I have earned most of my start-up capital back with sales but with my more recent pieces being sterling silver and precious metals/gems these upfront costs have increased. It was much easier and simpler with cheaper products but I like the challenge and taking up opportunities to further expand my business.

Another factor is time. I currently have 4 jobs and one of them is full time so having the time to make anything or run stalls is limited, I enjoy my jobs so quitting isn’t really an option. I would still like to further my career in Microbiology so for now this venture is about making money from something I love! Finding the balance can sometimes be an issue.

You also have to make a lot of stock which you may or may not sell leaving you with products that have cost money and time which no one wants. This cost is amplified when using semi-precious metals as you could be sitting on many unsold pieces of jewellery that may cost £20 or more each! It is annoying but unavoidable!

 APH: Have you made any mistakes and what lesson(s) did you learn?

I have a habit of getting carried away with hobbies putting everything into them and rushing ahead. In all honesty you can say I did the same with this…bought A LOT of stuff, some I have still never used. I am also quite impatient so practising is not something I like to take time with so I have wasted material in failed attempts. I have also lost money buying the wrong items. However, when it came to playing around with the precious metals, some sense kicked in and I invested in a 6 week course so I could develop my skills and I am glad I did! I would like to say I have learned to be patient and not so carried away but I could still do with some work!!!

APH: Who are your business role models, if any?

Cliché as it sounds the ‘Dragons’ (from Dragon’s Den) give me inspiration, especially Duncan Bannatyne. I have a lot of respect and admiration for those that have made their way by coming up from nothing such as him. He started off with no wealthy family, having many odd jobs all the way up to his 20’s and not particularly excelling in anything. He then bought an ice cream truck, building up his business into an empire that includes his famous health clubs. I find this inspiring because it means that no matter who you are or your background…if you find something you want to do…then do it!

APH: Finally, what advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?

Just do it! Give it all! Start off simple and don’t get ahead of yourself (like I do), test the waters if it works build on it. It may not be perfect but if you give it time, effort and passion you can build something amazing.

Contact details – 

www.facebook.com/PlainCharming

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