Cheering for Science—A Chemist (and former professional cheerleader) in Medical Sales
Jul07

Cheering for Science—A Chemist (and former professional cheerleader) in Medical Sales

It’s not every day you meet a chemist who works in surgical sales and used to be a professional cheerleader. But that’s what Allison Grosso is. Allison received a double major in biology and chemistry from North Carolina State University, where she was also a cheerleader. After college, she worked for four years as a biology researcher at Merck, and also cheered for the Philadelphia Eagles for four years, serving as captain for two years. Allison eventually realized that she wanted a job with more interaction with people. She transferred into a sales rep position at Merck, where she learned the ins and outs of the business of pharmaceutical sales. After a few years, Allison says she felt she “needed a bit more of a challenge.” So she applied for a competitive position in surgical sales and landed the job. Now she is a Territory Manager for a surgical device company, which she finds both challenging and satisfying. “I work with surgeons in the operating room, and my knowledge of our technology, anatomy and specific disease states is essential to my success,” Allison says. A typical day for Allison starts at 7:30 am in any one of the many hospitals she covers in eastern Pennsylvania. Her job is to be present while the surgical procedure is taking place to ensure the equipment is functioning correctly. After a few surgeries, Allison takes care of office calls and spends time talking to doctors and operating staff, informing them about new products and training them to use surgical equipment. The best part of the job for Allison is working with surgeons and operating room staff. “I sell a great product that is loved by so many people, and it is so wonderful to hear the success stories from them about how great the patients are doing after the operation,” Allison says. “The most challenging part of the job is trying to convince some surgeons to try something new,” Allison says. “It is my job to simply get them to try it, and let the success of the product speak for itself.” Allison says having a background in chemistry and biology has helped her immensely with her current job. She feels confident in being able to understand exactly how the company’s products work and compare to their competition’s products. In her spare time, Allison is part of a science outreach organization—Science Cheerleaders—comprised of current and former professional cheerleaders who are also scientists. In addition to performances, such as (posted above) at the 2010 Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C., the cheerleading scientists also visit schools and do science experiments with kids—all while dressed...

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Scientific staffing: Connecting employers with job candidates
Oct27

Scientific staffing: Connecting employers with job candidates

Profile: Lynn Sullivan, Chemist (B.S., 1999), Account Manager for Aerotek, Inc. Chemists on the job market may be all too familiar with the process by which staffing companies work with recruiters to connect employers with job candidates. But has it crossed your mind that it takes someone who has firsthand experience in the chemical industry to know who will be a good fit for the job? Lynn Sullivan serves as an account manager for Aerotek, which provides recruiting and staffing services in the Atlanta metro area. Prior to her account management role with Aerotek, Lynn worked as a chemist for seven years. For more than four years now, Lynn has been working to help the scientific and healthcare industries find hiring solutions. Although she started off as a biology/pre-med major at Delta State University, she decided that wasn’t the career path that she wanted and made the switch, receiving her bachelor’s degree in chemistry. After graduation, she landed an industry job, where she worked in quality control and eventually moved into R&D. While working as a manager in an R&D department, Lynn was responsible for hiring technicians to work in the lab. She used a staffing company to help her identify job candidates, which led her to consider a career switch into the field. “I thought it would be a great fit for me because I could stay in the sciences but work more with people,” Lynn explained. Day to day, you can find Lynn calling companies, meeting with customers and working with recruiters to identify candidates for the companies’ needs. One of her favorite parts of the job is building relationships with people in a variety of scientific fields. Lynn strongly believes that her degree and prior experience in the scientific industry helped prepare her current role. She doesn’t miss working in a lab—after seven years at the bench, she realized it wasn’t her passion. But her current job requires her to visit labs often and learn about the research at various companies—so she still feels very connected with the scientific world. For those interested in a career like Lynn’s, she said there’s no industry-specific experience required. However, it’s important to make sure you don’t want to work in a lab environment and are willing to go into more of a sales position within the science community. Lynn said working for a staffing company requires an interest in sales because “we are selling our staffing solutions to employers, whether it’s to meet a temporary, cyclical or more permanent solution.” The obvious question to ask a person who works in scientific staffing is: What advice to you have to...

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Chemist-turned-marketing director in the computer software industry
Jun30

Chemist-turned-marketing director in the computer software industry

Profile: Philip Skinner, Field Marketing Director for PerkinElmer, San Diego, CA Electronic laboratory notebooks are the way of the future for scientific records, and Philip Skinner is helping pave the way for them. Philip is a field marketing director for PerkinElmer, where his current focus is promoting E-Notebook products to companies and laboratories. But he wasn’t always in the software industry. He is a trained synthetic organic chemist who received his Ph.D. at the University of Durham in the North East of England and did a postdoc at ETH Zurich before landing a job in med chem. While working in med chem, Philip helped asses E-Notebooks for his company. This experience helped him develop professional partnerships within the computer software industry. Little did he know that the time and effort invested would eventually develop into a full-time job just when he needed it. In 2009, the pharmaceutical company where Philip had worked for eight years cut 40 percent of its staff and Philip was left unemployed. He spent nine months actively exploring other career options, including project management and consulting. Finally, the software company developing E-Notebooks decided to expand their sales team, and they offered Philip a job. Shortly after, he moved up in the company into a marketing position and is now a director of field marketing. Philip said he would not have been so lucky had he not had the training and connections with the folks in the software industry. “I met a lot of people networking, but I got this job from contacts I had made and nurtured for many years, and people I had actually worked in partnership with,” he said. For the most part, he works from home, where he spends his time preparing for product demonstrations, participating in conference calls and talking with customers. “One of my main roles is essentially a translator,” Philip said. “As an experienced lab scientist, I understand the way at least the drug discovery world works. I can speak with the scientists we are working with, but also to our software people.” To expand the company’s client base, Philip demo’s the products at trade shows and visits companies all over the country– so there is a good deal of travel with his job. Philip said the best and worst part of his job is working from home since he said it makes it very difficult to maintain work/life separation. But he said he is very happy with his career move. “I enjoy the work, I like the people, it gives me a lot of freedom,” he said. “I feel valued and useful… and I feel that I have somewhere I can actually grow.” For chemists who may be interested in breaking into the software industry, Philip suggests doing research on both the companies and...

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