Spotlight on Research outside Academia – notes from the panel event

If you weren’t able to come to the recent event about working in scientific research outside academia, here are some top tips from the session:

Our speakers were:

Sunish Patel

  • Title:      Senior Analytical Scientist at GSK
  • PhD:      Pharmaceutics and Drug Design from UCL

Sunish’s PhD was a combination of drug discovery and drug delivery. During his PhD he developed new hydrophobic peptides and investigated their oral and SC delivery using polymeric nano particles.

Ruth Mokgogong

  • Title: Health Outcomes Research Manager – Pfizer
  • PhD: Neuropharmacology at University of Cambridge

Ruth is part of the Health & Value Outcomes team at Pfizer, where she now focuses more upon public health than she did during her academic studies. Her work includes conducting research and analyses on clinical trials and observational studies. In addition she is also involved in health economics research.

1) Each of our speakers had not gone directly into these roles: Sunish worked as a community pharmacist directly after his MPharm, and Ruth worked as a life science consultant first.  Sunish made 60 applications before eventually going through a GSK recruitment agency (PPD) to get the role.

2) Sunish indicated that PhD entrants are likely to get selected for more complex projects because of their prior experience, which would lead to potentially more interesting internal moves.  You’re likely to be able to, for example, add extra value to a department through cutting time on SOPs, which is helpful at appraisal time.

3) The lab environment in industry is broadly similar to a university lab; there may be more safety management procedures in place but otherwise the daily routine of experiments in the morning and then analysing data in the afternoons is pretty much the same.  You are more likely to have access to your own set of equipment rather than having to book and share it with other groups.

4) Ruth’s role, managing clinical trials on rare ‘orphan diseases’, reminds us that ethical approvals are difficult to come by in industry as well as academia.  The technical skills she uses, of observational study, desk-based statistical research and systematic reviews, are those many academics regularly use.

5) While companies such as Pfizer are based in the US, the UK offices are valued by them because of the rigour involved in getting approvals for market access, essentially to sell drugs to the NHS.  Companies reason that they need UK know-how to get access to this market and in doing so, get themselves into the European market too.

6) One big change from academia is having to have a corporate outlook.  You have to learn to manage up and down, and to be good at project management.

7) Ruth indicated that in her world (health economics), employers liked people with business knowledge and that it is easier to get into life science consulting than it is into business.

8) Work/life balance seemed pretty good for both speakers.  Ruth indicated that the hours in consulting were longer than in her current role.  Travel may well be involved, specially if the company is headquartered overseas.  GSK operates a flexi-time approach.

9) There are vacancies currently in specialist areas such as statisticians or health technologists.  GSK uses a lot of ‘contingency’ staff (essentially contractors) and this is a good way to see the internal vacancy list, for example.

10) When asked how they decided to get into their particular roles, both speakers talked about taking a chance, taking a risk and not necessarily having ALL information available to them.  ‘It looked interesting’ said Ruth!

Life and Health Sciences event at The Crick Institute, 22nd Nov – information for research staff

Crick Event Promo Picture


The Life & Health Science Careers Event will host some of the UK’s largest graduate employers in life science, health, consulting and medical sciences related industries, this is a fantastic chance to network and explore a career with sector-leading companies.

The Francis Crick Institute, the world-leading biomedical research institute will be hosting the fair in their new laboratory building and Life Science students from King’s College London, Imperial College London & UCL are invited to attend.

Exhibitors include: AstraZeneca, Celgene, Cancer Research UK, GSK, NHS Leadership Academy, IBM, Procter & Gamble, National School Of Health Care Science, The Wellcome Trust, Unilever, amongst others.

Research Staff should email, with their name and research area, and time preference.  Time slots are: 17:00 – 17:50, 17:50 – 18:40, 18:40 – 19:30.

PhDs need to book to attend this event, using this link:


Spotlight on Management Consultancy – notes from the panel events

Ten Top Tips from the Spotlight on Management Consultancy

Read on if you weren’t able to come to the very successful event recently around Management Consultancy careers for PhDs and research staff!

Speaker profiles:

Grant Repshire

Consultant at Capco

Grant completed a PhD in English Literature at Exeter University, having formerly completed an MA in History at Exeter, and a Bachelors in History at the University of Kansas. His research focused on the rediscovered papers of the First World War soldier-poet F.W. Harvey, resulting in the first academic biographical study of Harvey’s life and work. He is currently a Consultant at Capco, joining through their Armed Forces to Capco programme, having been a military officer prior to my MA/PhD.

Philip Livingstone
Manager, KPMG Management Consulting Healthcare Team
Philip’s PhD at Bath Spa focused on the interactions between reward pathways and attention pathways in the brain and how they are affected by nicotine in order to find new therapeutic targets for disorders such as schizophrenia. He took a particular interest in how dopamine levels in the brain would change in this pathways as a result of increasing the effects of nicotinic signalling.

He is now a Manager in the KPMG Management Consulting Healthcare Team. He specialises in redesigning healthcare services across whole care systems, involving the NHS, local government and not-for-profit sectors.

Nick Faull

Nick Faull is a Principal in Oliver Wyman’s London Office within the Financial Services practice. He has nine years of experience in consulting to Financial Services institutions across Europe with a focus on strategic IT and operations topics. He joined the firm after completing an atmospheric physics DPhil and a 2-year postdoc at the University of Oxford, working on the largest climate modelling experiment in the world.

  • Talk to your careers service! Both Grant and Phil used the careers events at their university to help with career inspiration and choice, as well as application feedback.
  • Choose a consultancy based either on your interest area (eg finance, life science) or because it has a very broad base and will expose you to multiple sector areas
  • Consulting is a good profession for allowing you to find out more about what other roles are possible in the world; consultants often move into the industries they have been supporting through their consultancy work, or become more senior and specialist in their particular consultancy practice.
  • There are many transferable skills from PhD or other research work; researching data or interviewing client employees is similar to many people’s research methodology; drawing conclusions from your own data; report writing; tender writing is very similar to applying for grants; and making presentations. Consulting is about understanding a problem and solving it, much like writing a PhD.
  • The main differences are the fast pace – clients will often want work produced at very short notice – and the number of projects on the go at one time. The stress is often higher and there is less time to sit and reflect.  You rarely use the academic knowledge that you have in a particular research field, though Phil did get to work on data for the ABPI.
  • Travel is a given, unless you choose a consultancy (such as CapCo, for example) that focuses on a particular geographical area (financial services technology). As you become more senior, you would be better able to choose the kind of clients you work with and therefore the travel you have to undertake.  Consultants can usually choose to be available for emails etc during their leave and many firms actively discourage this practice.
  • PhDs and other researchers are usually very positively viewed by consultancy firms. Be clear about what the reason is you are being pulled towards consultancy as they are likely to ask you at interview why you don’t want to continue in academia.  Reasons given by the panel include the opportunity to work on a variety of projects at once, and seeing a more immediate impact.
  • The kind of work varies enormously. Phil was a tutor on some NHS management training recently; Grant got to advise a charity during his induction period; Nick works within financial services advising regulators.
  • Different companies will have different ways of managing recruitment and subsequent progression within a company. All three entered via a graduate training scheme, though Grant came from a specific Armed Forces scheme and hence started perhaps slightly higher grade than a standard graduate.  Oliver Wyman has no timeline for promotion and works with individuals to help them develop; CapCo you are finding your own project and almost applying for each new piece of work; KPMG you may well find yourself studying for an accountancy qualification.
  • Areas likely to remain buoyant within consulting include IT, data, technology; leadership development and organisational conduct and culture. And strategy will never go away!


Kate Murray

Oct 2016 is launched!

do 1 thing

Fortunately the image isn’t so blurry in the actual website….!

We created to help you, as a researcher at King’s, find out more about what’s going on that might interest you. We know, from talking with PhDs and research staff, that it’s hard to spot opportunities across King’s (and outside). We also know that doing one thing, or indeed lots of things, can help you meet new people, be inspired to find out more about your next move, or just feel more involved in what’s going on here.

Check out all the opportunities we’ve put up. Some of them are jobs, others are events, and occasionally there’s even some funding. We advertise some of the services King’s offers you too – just as a reminder that there’s lots going on outside your library, lab or office.

You might find that there’s not much specifically for your research area: apologies if that’s the case. Please send us something! Or, get in touch if you’d like help creating something for you and your colleagues.


  • Is designed specifically for the 4,700 research staff and postgraduate research students at King’s
  • Gives you up to date info on the best activities currently available at King’s (and beyond)
  • Welcomes content – contact or tweet @kcldo1thing
  • Is a project delivered by King’s PhD students through the King’s Research Consultancy, funded by the Researcher Development Unit and Centre for Research Staff Development.


Come and talk to your Careers Consultants at the Inaugural Research Staff event

All King’s Research Staff attending the launch of the Centre for Research Staff Development this October are welcome to come and talk to Kate Murray and Donald Lush!  We are part of the exhibition and Kate is helping facilitate one of the workshops at the event.

Kate and Donald are qualified careers consultants and work exclusively with PhDs and research staff across King’s.  You are welcome to come and talk to us in confidence about any aspect of your career decision-making.  Whether you already know where you want to go, inside academia or beyond, or need some inspiration, we can work with you to help that thinking and put some action plans into place.  If it’s the practical stuff – CVs, applications, interview practice or listening to presentations – that’s fine too.  Our clients tell us they welcome the opportunity to talk to someone entirely outside their discipline, as a neutral commentator.

guidanceFind out more about what Kate and Donald do at our webpages and take a look at these resources  for inspiration and interest: Life Sciences and NMS (Arts, Hums, SSPP and Law coming soon!).  This KEATS page might also inspire you to work through some of the decision-making even before you talk to us (self-enrol to look at the resources and exercises).

King’s Careers & Employability has a wealth of events all through the academic year which as research staff you’re welcome to attend.  There is a series of employer events just for PhDs and research staff, starting with a session about Patent Law, just a couple of days after the launch.  Come and find us at the research staff event and we’ll work you through the possibilities.