Tomorrow’s Career Spotlight: Management Consulting

A reminder of tomorrow’s exciting Career Spotlight about Management Consulting, for PhDs and post-docs.

Our speakers include:

  • Fahd Choudhry (PhD in Forensics) and Nacho Quinones (PhD in Alzheimer’s Research) from Deloitte
  • Nathan Cope (PhD in Molecular Biology) from PA Consulting
  • Lauren Carter from Simon-Kucher & Partners

Listen to career stories.  Find out what these people actually do.  Ask your own questions. See you there!

Weds 28th January, 5-6pm, FWB 1.70

Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable’s next event in London

Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable (OBR) is a network of students, academics, and professionals from the disciplines of science, business, medicine and law. OBR’s mission is to bridge the gap between industry and academia in the life sciences, giving innovators the opportunity to meet one another, as well as gain access to industry resources, in order to foster entrepreneurship and commercialization in biomedical research.

OBR engages its members via four key approaches: they run regular free events, consulting projects, the world’s biggest life sciences business plan competition, OneStart, and an original online publication, the Roundtable Review.

King’s College London will host the next OBR event on Wednesday 19 March, 7 pm, at New Hunt’s House on Guy’s Campus. The panel discussion entitled “Gene Therapy: Investment Hotspot or Ageing Novelty?” will bring together high-profile speakers from academia and industry to examine the future of gene therapy. This will be a fantastic opportunity for KCL students and academics to receive cutting-edge insights into the commercial and clinical potential of gene therapy treatments, as well as voice your own opinions on the matter.

Register for free at:

Founded in July 2011 in Oxford, OBR has been rapidly expanding and now totals over 20,000 members globally, with chapters in the UK, the US and Asia. For the academic community, OBR offers numerous opportunities to collaborate and learn through its online articles, industry-related workshops and discussions featuring visionary leaders from a wide range of fields, including biotech, pharma, finance and law. In particular, the London Chapter of OBR has renewed its partnership with Queen Mary, University of London for the second year in a row to run exclusive consulting projects for their students. These projects are an excellent opportunity for students and researchers to gain practical experience in solving real world business problems facing the biotech industry.

OBR seeks to strengthen its network at KCL and is looking for motivated and talented students and post-docs who want to move ideas forward in the life sciences and healthcare sectors.  If you would like to contribute to OBR in any way, from events management to consulting, please contact the London Chapter’s Events Lead, Shirley Tang (, a PhD student at KCL), or President, Sybil Wong (

OBR-London event is also screening a 2013 documentary on biotech in France on Wednesday 26March at UCL, which will be a chance for the audience to assess the vibrancy of the industry across the channel and learn about opportunities for collaboration there.

The Tour de France of LaBiotech: Beginnings of a Biotech Boom?
Register for free at:


‘I wanted a new challenge’: Career Spotlight on Life Science Consulting (plus vacancies)

About 40 scientists from across King’s came together last week to find out more about life consultancy.  What was the key similarity between speakers from both different firms was the desire to keep their interest in science and to use their research skills.  Consultants came from EY and Lifescience Dynamics. (You should also take a look at this write up to find out about a different firm, offering one vacancy.  See here for a vacancy at LD, and use the ‘life science consulting’ tag below for more from this blog).

Dr Muneer Ahmed and colleagues Steve and Amalia from Lifescience Dynamics talked about their firm and the motivation for working there.  The firm is a small boutique consultancy based in the West End, providing consulting services to the top 20 pharma companies in the world.

Their three key practice areas are market research, access (policy, pricing, launch sequence [which country do you launch a drug in first?  depends on their regulatory regime]), and competitor intelligence (which deals are being brokered at the moment – ie the NHS would never pay the list price so what discounts are being offered by which pharma companies).  They help companies decide which messages need to be given to GPs if a drug is coming to the end of its patent, and sometimes get involved in war-gaming.


Muneer’s view of consultants’ value-added (read bottom upwards!)

  • What are the differences between academic science and business?  In academia, you have the luxury of time and are seeking the truth.  In business, you have to be effective and efficient with the time you have available.
  • What is the work/life balance like? It gets easier, and you get used to it.  Consultants might start off by working 55-60 hours a week.
  • Do you need to be bilingual?  It helps when dealing with clients, but it’s not essential.
  • Do you need prior experience?  You’re expected to know what ‘phase 2 or phase 3’ drug development means, but they don’t expect to hire you with lots of background experience.
  • How do you gain credibility with clients?  You’ll have a project manager working with you first of all that would do most of the client management to start off.
  • Why did you change to get into consulting?  All of the consultants talked about seeking new challenges: looking to learn different information such as about managing companies.
  • Why were they selected?  Primarily for their soft skills and way of thinking.  They look for people with a logic to their thinking.

Nayan Rughani and Dr Luke Taylor came from EY (Ernst & Young), from the healthcare consulting division.  Nayan is a professional accountant, and Luke is a consultant working on the graduate scheme on a rotation.

A healthcare consultant will typically look at Performance Optimisation – reducing costs but taking clinical concerns into account.  They look at clinical pathways and help organisations think about capacity  – what will their organisation look like in 10 years?

They might also look at mergers and acquisitions – as healthcare trusts reorganise.  For example, Nayan is working with Mid-Staffs NHS Trust, looking at how the service is being split between two hospitals.

Luke gave a good case study using the concept of TDABC (Time drive Activity Based Costing) which enables healthcare professionals to understand costing implications, and encouraging healthcare managers to not remove professionals from the equation.

The outcome of the research he did (being on the ward, talking to patients, HCAs, nurses, doctors etc) was a new clinical pathway that saved around £250k per year, and resulted in patients having to spend less time in hospital.

How did Luke get into the firm?  He built a transferable skills file, and made sure that he recorded all extra-curricular activities in it to use in applications.  He built a good network that would be attractive to the firm.  He believes that some PhDs might apply for an ‘experienced hire’ senior consultant role, if their PhD is particularly relevant to an area of consultancy activity, rather than enter on the grad scheme as he did.  He had also been able to take control of the budget of his PhD for the last six months to show that he had some experience of that.

EY uses lots of analytical programmes: Java, Matlab, R, SAS so it is useful if you have some knowledge of those.

Using your research skills in a job: Career Spotlight on Research

For this Career Spotlight on using your research skills, we were joined by Dr Jane Colechin, researcher from Inclusion (the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion), and Dr Emma Broom, Healthcare Analyst from Sociable Pharma, who came with her manager and co- founder of the company, Nigel Marsh.

Jane left us a copy of her presentation KCL Presentation Jane Colechin and I’d urge you to take a look.  Inclusion focuses mainly on NEETs and other disadvantaged groups, running events, providing research and consultancy about work, and evaluating major projects including the DWP’s Work Programme.  As previous speakers in the Spotlights have done, Jane talked about the differences between working as an academic researcher and as a social researcher (mainly the time lines and having to run several projects at once).

Her own career runs from a PhD in Political Science at Birmingham, to a short post-doc at Cardiff, to a brief internship for a family charity where she got direct experience of lobbying.  This internship led to a paid role at the charity and then onto Inclusion.

Jane’s slides provide some great links for vacancies and other social research organisations.

Nigel and Emma talked then about their work at Sociable Pharma, founded in 2010.  The three main services they provide are

  • Market Research – through interviews with physicians, Key Opinion Leaders, opinion polls
  • Competitive Intelligence – product and market tracking, attending medical meetings; understanding how physicians change prescriptions patterns
  • Advisory – thinking about medical communications (eg disease and product awareness websites), strategic consulting, and web strategy. It might include business war-gaming.

The analyst’s role is mainly to research surveys and questionnaires.  You are given particular disease areas and have to research available evidence around them.  You might attend relevant disease conferences on behalf of clients.  You’re providing contextual analysis.

Skills required would include:

  • communication – eg reports being logical
  • writing, for Powerpoint rather than lengthy reports
  • being independent and able to manage your own projects
  • being flexible – it’s a small business
  • quick understanding of problems.

Nigel subsequently posted a job on our JobOnline site –