How I broke into the biotechnology sector

Adam Inche works for BioReliance, a firm that provides contract testing and manufacturing services to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He recently had this to say on getting into the biotechnology sector.

“Since completing my PhD in Cancer Biology, I have been working for a couple of different companies in the biotechnology field.  I transitioned from a development scientist role into the commercial side during this time.  I have been in my current role in the marketing department at BioReliance for just under 2 years, and I am really enjoying how I am both being challenged as well as being allowed to challenge assumptions within the organisation.

The recruitment process was a little different from normal, as I was approached to apply for the role – however the selection and interview side of things was just like any other job you would see advertised on a job site, or in a publication.  Here are the three most important things I did to ensure I got the job:

  • I customised my CV. A CV is the most important job/career related document that people never think about.  A CV is really your story – how you got to this point in your life, as well as giving indications of where you would like to go next.  Like with any story, the steps of the journey should be cohesive and coherent.  It is also worth remembering that audiences for your CV can be quite different.  So if you are applying for a highly technical job, you need to really detail the technical skills you have.  However, if the job has softer skills then you may have to use illustrative examples of how you completed certain tasks or projects.  If using a recruitment agency it is worth giving a lot of detail with industry recognised terms.  This way you can make sure that your name comes up if they search for a particular term.  Finally, there may be some expectations around length, so it is worth checking that.

With all this in mind, you should not have just one CV, but several, and always try to customise it for each role you apply for.

  • I got my story straight. A great CV will get you in the door, but you need to follow this up by telling a story that matches.  Like probably 99% of people, I didn’t have a 5 year plan – especially when I graduated.  So rather than talk about a list of different jobs you have had, it is worth thinking about how you can position these into a compelling story of skill building.  A very common question that interviewers ask is about moving from one job to another.  So really think about how you can answer and justify this in a positive way.  How did you apply skills from one area to another?  For example you may have spent a year at a beach resort, but are there any really positive skills you can talk about here? (perhaps you improved a language skill!)

    I did my research. This can certainly be challenging and time consuming, but it’s essential to do as much research on the organisation as you can.

  • It’s absolutely not good enough to have a cursory glance at the website.  Especially as there are so many resources available now, with almost overwhelming content, from YouTube to LinkedIn, Twitter to the annual reports.  You will probably not understand everything that you read – but that is great as you will have questions ready to ask at the interview!

We are facing certain challenges in BioReliance at the moment, as we are growing really quickly.  However, this rapid growth also presents itself with great opportunities in terms of development and advancement.  A personal example of this is that I have been given the opportunity to develop my wider business skills with a course at Edinburgh University Business School.

More widely, the biotechnology field is a really exciting place to be at the moment.  There are lots of investment funds willing to put money into innovative start-ups.  A good local example to Edinburgh is Synpromics, who are building synthetic gene promoters for various applications.  The interconnectivity of this field is demonstrated here as the CEO of Synpromics, David Venables, used to work at BioReliance.  One application for these synthetic promoters is in the gene and cellular therapies space.  There have been some truly amazing developments in this space, for example with CAR-T therapies.  Although still in relatively early stages of development, these therapies have already been transforming lives and treating previously incurable diseases.  It therefore gives me an enormous sense of pride as well as purpose to know that BioReliance is playing a role by safety testing these and other incredible treatments.  Certainly my mum likes to let people know that her son works for a company that is helping deliver cures for leukaemia.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about a career in this sector, why not come along to one of our Career Conversations this week? More details are available on MyCareerHub.



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