Spotlight Series: Science Beyond Academia Nora McFadden – Science Procurement Manager, The Crick Institute

Nora’s career in science started with her undergraduate degree in medical microbiology at Warwick which she followed by jumping straight to a PhD at Imperial College.

After working as a post-doc she realised that she didn’t want to be a PI and couldn’t see a future for herself in lab-based academic research.

She moved initially to lab management at CRUK as the Crick was being developed and it was made clear to her that progression within her role would be possible. She became involved in procurement for the Institute as it was being built and works there currently, managing the purchasing of supplies and equipment for a large and complex institution.

Nora emphasises that science background is essential as she needs to understand the scientific context in order to effectively provide equipment and supplies as well as communicate effectively with researchers.

Her work is varied and requires very close attention to detail with lots of opportunity for project management. The skills of a researcher in managing, communicating and understanding data, problem solving, analysis, time management and being flexible and adaptable all come frequently into play. There are frequent opportunities to interact with the research the researchers and this kind of role can be great for those who don’t want to lose touch with science but do want to try a different profession.

The environment is often more formal than academic research. There are regular office hours and the culture is often more like that of a business than a university.

For those interested in applying for professional support roles within science, Nora recommends that you try to get some experience of and contact with people working in these roles and show your interest and willingness to get involved.

CVs and applications should be skills focussed and much less detailed than academic CVs as well as thoroughly tailored towards the role and institution you are applying for.