Sam works for IMI plc as a life science key account manager, he is currently based in North America and this is his career journey so far.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the research experience of my third year undergraduate dissertation, I was inspired to undertake a doctorate in bioengineering at the University of Nottingham. I submitted my thesis entitled ‘The deposition, characterisation and biocompatibility of hydroxyapatite and silicon doped hydroxyapatite thin film coatings for orthopaedic applications’ graduating in the summer of 2008.
Following my doctorate I joined a two-year graduate scheme run by a British engineering company, IMI Plc, which provided me with structured career development, advice and the correct mentoring support. This strategic view to career development and the chance to gain international work experience was a great draw for me. During my first two years I worked in the UK and Europe, China and the Americas.
I have now transitioned from the graduate scheme into a development role as a key account manager for North Eastern USA. This position continues to offer regular travel, not only throughout Northeast America but also on a global basis. IMI Plc delivers engineering solutions in a large range of sectors. One of my particular interests is the medical sector and within this area my role is to form strategic partnerships; forming synergies between our company and our clients allowing both businesses to grow simultaneously, working in harmony to get products developed and out on time. It’s a role that combines sales, marketing and management: I could be described as being a mini-managing director for each of my customers.
With such a varied job specification, I find I call on many of the skills developed during my PhD. In addition to great communication and people skills, I need to project-manage large assignments, control budgets, raise funds, work to influence people, and regularly develop strategic plans. Whilst my PhD qualification wasn’t necessarily a pre-requisite for getting the job, I’ve found it really opens doors and has helped accelerate my career development now I’m in. Even though I don’t need the specialist knowledge developed during my PhD project every day, I regularly use my biomaterials and medical awareness, as well as my engineering mindset. And it always helps to have the broader technical and subject-specific knowledge that comes with research experience when dealing with clients and colleagues. My commitment to keep developing these skills facilitates my ambition to become the head of global life sciences within my company within five years.
Sam's advice to researchers
If I could give any advice to researchers who are considering a career like mine, I would encourage you to always do things that scare you – step outside your comfort zone! Have confidence that you can do anything, and open your mind to the opportunities out there – don’t settle for second best. Finally, your network is the most important thing in any career, so speak to as many people as possible - you could chat to someone in a bar and end up working with them years down the line!