Becoming a Healthcare or Life Science Consultant: next week’s Career Spotlight

Consultants from two different firms are coming to speak to you about their careers using their life science knowledge.  If you’ve ever wondered how you can use your science but not stay at the bench, then this event is for you.

Dr Muneer Ahmad (KCL alumnus) from Life Science Dynamics, and Nayan Rughani (manager, Health Practice) and Dr Luke Taylor​, from Ernst & Young will talk about their work, their companies and their day to day tasks.

Plus, I’ll have details of some vacancies that need filling….

  • When: Weds 26th Feb, 5-6pm
  • Where: FWB 1.70
  • No need to book

Make the most of these opportunities to actually talk to employers and find out about life outside academia.

Career Spotlight: insights about working as a patent attorney

We were joined by Dr Marianne Shepherd and Stuart Lumsden from Marks & Clerk, and Dr Robert Andrew from Mewburn Ellis.  You might like to find out about last year’s speakers here.

Both main speakers (Marianne and Robert) struck me as really interested in their science, quietly determined to make the most of their knowledge and delighted by the technical intricacies of attorney work.  Sound like you?  Read on!

Marianne has recently joined the firm, from a molecular biology PhD at Oxford, and says that she chose patent attorney work because it would be intellectually stimulating, broaden her knowledge, and enable her to use her technical knowledge.

She described the work as a way for inventors to gain protection of their work from the state, and for them to control exploitation of the work.  Patent applications work both ways: you get the patent rights, but you also have the disclose the information about the invention too.

Her day includes

  • providing information to inventors about whether or not their work is patentable
  • describing the invention to make an application – you have to widen out the description to cover future commercial applications
  • preparing the patent application for the Patent Office
  • preparing response to any Patent Office objections, which involves reading documents and understanding the invention very clearly.

The application process for her was much the same as many standard graduate schemes.  She attended Open Days at various firms’ offices, and also sent some speculative letters.  Interviews are reasonably tricky, but so long as you are well-prepared about what patent attorneys do and are clear about the technical knowledge that you bring them, they are not particularly different from other interviews.  You will, though, probably be given a drafting exercise, where you may have to describe something (eg a pair of scissors or a pencil) so that they can check your grammar, proof-reading, and the clarity of your thought processes.

Training should be very comprehensive and one of the distinguishing features between firms is how much training support they offer.  You train for four years, with a partner of the firm over seeing your work.  You qualify both as a UK and EU patent attorney (there is no language requirement) and have lots of exams.  This may well be the first time you have ever failed an exam but it is known that people will fail!!!  Once you have passed these exams, you could work as an independent patent attorney, or stay working for a firm.

She says that patent attorney work is not really a job for those that need social interaction face to face: much of the time you are working on your own or over the phone and email.

Robert is a more senior patent attorney who completed a PhD in 2006.  His areas of work now extend across industrial enzymes, stem cells and dental implants, for example.

He said that what clients are paying for is attorneys’ detailed knowledge of the complex system, and the global connections firms have.  His work, in addition to that that Marianne undertakes, includes defending patent decisions in the EU courts (eg Brussels) where you are doing oral objections, a bit like a barrister.  You are ‘thinking fast about science’!

As you become more senior, then you might take more of a business development role, such as, for example, going to work with a client company in Korea to understand their business better.

Skills required:

  • to be able to read, think and write a lot
  • good all-round technical and science awareness
  • analytical approach
  • a feeling for an grasp of words
  • communication
  • working to deadlines and under pressure

It is a relatively secure and well-paid profession, 80% of the work in the UK is in London, there are good opportunities to become partner, and it’s a very independent role.  The hours are good and you could go and work in-house just for one client company.  Languages are useful when working with clients, but not to do the job.  You bill by 6 minute slots of your time!

See CareersTagged for more information about this role.

Looking for career inspiration? Come and hear these stories

Early Career Researchers

Meet employers. Broaden your ideas. Be inspired.

For all PhDs, Post-Docs and other early career researchers looking for career insight.

Not a presentation, just life stories.

(No need to sign up, please just turn up!)

Programme Overview
 Date Time Room Session
Weds 22nd Jan 2014 5 -6pm FWB 1.70 Career Spotlight: Policy/Think Tank Research with Ann-Marie Brouder from Forum for the Future and Susan Steed from New Economics
Weds 29th Jan 2014 5 -6pm FWB 1.70 Career Spotlight: Management Consultancy with Fahd Choudry and Nacho Quinones from Deloitte
Weds 5th Feb 2014 5 -6pm  FWB 1.70 Career Spotlight: Patent Attorney with Claire Borton from Marks & Clerk and Rob Andrews from Mewburn Ellis
Weds 12th Feb 2014  5 -6pm  FWB 1.70 Career Spotlight: Medical Writer/ Science Communications/Science Publishing with Julia Coleman from Synergy and Pauline Starley from Portland Press
Weds 19th Feb 2014 5 -6pm FWB 1.70 Career Spotlight: Research – Social or Market with Emma Broom from Sociable Data and Jane Colechin from The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion
Weds 26th Feb 2014 5 -6pm FWB 1.70 Career Spotlight: Life Science Consulting with Muneer Ahmad from Lifescience Dynamics and representatives from Ernst & Young
Weds 5th March 2014 5 -6pm FWB 1.70 Career Spotlight: Turning your PhD into a Business (hosts TBC)

Leadership in science opportunity – good experience with industry

The Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable ( is currently recruiting for several leadership positions in its London team. OBR¹s mission is to foster an on-campus conversation about the healthcare and life sciences industry: We connect academics from across disciplines with each other and supply them with the industry resources and experience to move ideas forward. Since launching 2 years ago, we¹ve expanded to 8 chapters on 3 continents and 15,000 members.

Being part of the leadership team would allow you to work with blue-chip companies like GSK, Roche, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson and help organise events such as our annual £100k business plan competition. We are currently recruiting for the following positions:

Chapter president: Oversees all of OBR¹s activities within London. A high-profile role perfect for a candidate looking to hone their leadership skills and dramatically expand their network in the industry.

Events lead: Responsible for planning and executing high-profile seminars, debates and networking events.

Outreach & marketing lead: In charge of OBR¹s outward presence, via our website, social media, and email communication

Consulting project manager: Leading 8-10 week strategy consulting projects for mainly biotech and pharma clients.

You can find out more about each of these here:

All roles are available immediately and will require a 10h/week commitment through Sept 2014. No prior experience is necessary.

Please apply by the 20th of January to


Science but not in a uni? Find out more from L’Oreal

Careers with L’Oreal Research & Innovation – F-WB Classroom 2.81, Friday 25th Oct 12-2pm

‘We are constantly on the lookout for young, dynamic and international talent for L’Oreal R&I. If you are interested in a career with us, we would be very happy to meet you, discuss the work we do and the opportunities that are available with us.’

If you think you meet their requirements, head along!  No need to sign up.