Raymond Adam: "A background in academia is an asset for firms to understand the need to innovate"
Research is critical to keep the European industry competitive in the global economy. The mobility of scientific skills from universities to industrial companies is an opportunity for companies to absorb and make the most of the knowledge developed in academia.
Raymond Adam is an R&D and Laboratory Manager at Michelman - a global developer and manufacturer of advanced environmentally friendly materials for industry. In this role, he coordinates the processes and systems used by the Technology community in EMEA and other regions for new product development project management. He is also responsible for the operations of the company's R&D laboratory. In the framework of the EURAXESS Luxembourg 2getthere programme, he acted as a mentor and shared his experience and advice with his mentees on how to successfully navigate the transition from academia to industry.
Research is much needed in the future for the European industry to remain competitive in the world economy.
Be open to opportunities outside your field of specialisation
Raymond Adam is familiar with the academic world and the challenges for researchers to move on. Indeed, he was a researcher in chemistry having completed a PhD in chemistry in France and a postdoctoral position in the US. Following his postdoc, he moved from academia to industry, where he received a job offer from a large multinational company which he had applied to.
When applying for his first job in industry, he chose to seek out a company offering positions that matched his career aspirations and values he could relate to.
His advice to PhD candidates is to look beyond their field of specialisation:
The scientific field is so varied and specialised that is virtually impossible to find many employers in one area of specialisation in one location. This in not specific to Luxembourg only. Be open to opportunities outside your field. With remote or partially remote working now being part of the new norm, the job market will be even larger.
Employers are also keen to know your values
Raymond Adam admits that PhD candidates may encounter hurdles when the hiring manager is not quite familiar with what a PhD journey looks like. Hence the need for researchers heading into non-academia to market themselves and translate their skills.
Undoubtedly, the so-called 'hard' technical skills are essential to apply for a particular job as they should match the job description. Still, the soft skills gained throughout a doctoral journey, such as problem-solving skills as well as people and project management skills, are equally important. In addition, employers are interested in the values of candidates to see if they fit in with the company's culture.
Any career move requires self-examination and risk-taking
To Raymond Adam, any career move, from university to industry involves self-examination and risk-taking. As such, a mentor plays a critical role in acting as a catalyst for change to help guide the person seeking a career change.
A mentor can listen to the desires and concerns of the mentee and lead the candidate through the process. Along the way, the mentor can provide specific tools to define the skills, find out about the personality traits of the person, clarify career aspirations, and so on. All these elements will generate information that will guide and facilitate the mentee's decision making.
With information widely available online, Raymond Adam suggests taking advantage of it for job searching.
Nowadays, more than when I graduated, a lot of information is available online. I encourage the researchers familiarise themselves with how scientific careers in the industry can look like. This can be done by consulting LinkedIn profiles, reading profile descriptions in job opportunities posted online or contacting and talking to more senior scientific staff in your own network.
2getthere is a free-of-charge mentoring programme managed by EURAXESS Luxembourg dedicated to PhD candidates who see their future career outside academia in Luxembourg.