What did you study at Yale, and what is your current profession/job?
I’m a strategy consultant for L.E.K. Consulting, and I’m dedicated to the Life Sciences practice. My Ph.D. was in Biomedical Engineering (’10) and my thesis was on targeted nanoparticles as vaccine delivery systems.
What do you like most about your current role? What do you find most challenging and/ or rewarding?
I love that my job has lots of variety – not that I do lots of things, which I do, but I essentially have a different job every couple of months. We are allocated a new project every ~4-8 weeks, where we work for a different company and have a different set of deliverables. I’m always learning about new diseases, products, and markets – and different data analyses to evaluate the subject matter. I work with different people – clients and colleagues — on each of these projects. I truly never stop learning, and have never been bored in 3 years of working. On the other hand, the intensity (and accompanying stress) that comes with starting a new job continues even 3 years into the job.
How did your time at Yale shape your career trajectory?
As I progressed in my Ph.D. and realized that I did not want to pursue an academic career, I decided that I would look for positions in R&D in industry. I worked for 3 years as a bench scientist at Unilever and then a project leader before I landed my current position. More importantly, I met my husband at GPSCY (where I worked for the entirety of my time at Yale) and he has been an integral part of making my career work. We have a son, and as consulting often leads to late hours, having an equal partner who can handle meals and bedtimes has been crucial.
What are the main skills that you acquired as a PhD student which help make you successful in your current career?
I think the biggest skill I acquired in my Ph.D. was learning to work amid uncertainty – diving into a new territory and figuring it out as I went along.
Did you acquire any professional experience related to your line of work while in graduate school?
I did a little bit of work while at Yale at the Office of Cooperative Research, where I did some basic market research, such a patent diligence. I also had the great experience of collaborating with a local biotech – L2 Diagnostics, which gave me some exposure to the translational side of research.
What advice would you offer PhDs who are interested in your line of work?
A number of consulting firms (e.g., Bain, McKinsey, BCG) offer summer consulting experiences for Ph.D.s. There’s also a Yale Graduate Student Consulting Club (I wasn’t a member – but I know it exists, as I had the pleasure of judging a competition a couple of years ago!), where you can learn and practice the all-important Case Study and get more exposure to the field.