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Opportunities in Industry post-PhD - In conversation with Dr. Anchala Kumari

1. In brief, tell us about your work.

Within the drug designing team at Arontier, I work on several projects in the tyrosine kinase protein space. Our main goal is to identify high-binding affinity compounds for tyrosine kinase mutants to support drug development, high-throughput screening, structural biology, biophysics and other downstream uses. These all form part of a drug discovery cascade, constituted by different screening and validation techniques.

2. When did you decide to join an industry?

A strong academic background and knowing your science is a perfect starting point and provides early career professionals with a good platform to build from. Beginning with a good foundational element is essential to enable you to claim a position in most types of organizations across the drug discovery industry.

I was always interested in working in the medical field and have been preparing for a career in this area. I am fascinated by how drugs work to counter disease and the effects they have on the human body. Being in the drug discovery field helps me contribute towards changing someone's life and creating a positive impact.

3. Where to find industrial positions?

Identify and pursue what you most enjoy. Speak to as many people as possible in the fields that you are interested in and find out about their jobs and career paths. This will allow you to understand the requirements of specific jobs and also start building your network.

Being consistently active on the company's website, Nature Science Jobs portal in, LinkedIn, and other recruitment portals is the most suitable way to look for an ideal job.

4. What are the minimum requirements/skills required to join an industry?

Basic requirements include having an experience of 0-8 years after completing PhD degree. One is also sometimes required to have previous experience per se in drug discovery field molecular modelling, ADME modelling and drug ADME profile optimization, a certain degree of proficiency in programming/scripting, working knowledge of databases, will be required.

5. How can one grow faster in an industrial setup?

Primarily for faster growth, I love the collaborative work within my job - particularly within Protein Science, as we interact with many different teams. Each team focuses on a specific area of the early drug discovery process,, which are all interdependent. We frequently meet to update each other on our results and make decisions together about how to progress. I also enjoy the opportunities for development at Arontier, be it learning new skills as part of my role or through several available courses.

6. Is an industrial job monotonous?

Jobs which give you ample opportunity for growth and which don't set any ceilings allow you to do things proactively and differently thus aren't monotonous. Usually, these are so-called progressive jobs where learning is a must and things change quickly.

7. On average, what is the starting salary for a PhD fresher?

Salaries in this field vary depending on job location (national/international) and positions. In India, it ranges from Rs. 3 lakhs per annum for research associates to Rs. 10 lakhs for a managerial post, while it is much higher at international locations. With experience and increasing responsibility, compensation also grows significantly. One also can receive bonuses.

8. What is best – Joining industry post PhD or after a Postdoc?

This is a great question. I took a substantial amount of time considering these options and what Postdoc and industry could each offer in both the short and long term. A postdoc is not required for an industry job. It won't help you get an industry job or a higher-tier job in the industry. So, quit lying to yourself.

From a career development point of view, a postdoc has zero benefits for a career in the industry. The pay is much less than what you can get in the private sector, and you will be more attractive to employers, have more marketable skills and be able to command a higher salary after X years of working in the industry than after X years of postdoc.

From a point of view of personal satisfaction, it's certainly possible that you will find the postdoc more fun or personally rewarding. So if that's the more compelling consideration, or if you still want to give a career in academia a chance, then go for it.

Dr. Anchala Kumari

PhD Biotechnology

Senior Scientist, Arontier Seoul, Republic of Korea


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