Careers / Commentary

PhD to Consulting, a Transition or a Stage in Your Career?

This post is by Heba Chehade. Heba is currently a DBA (Doctorate of Business Administration) student in the Manchester Business School.

I joined a LinkedIn group a year back or so that caters towards those interested in discussing and seeking help on transitioning from a PhD into a consulting “job”. After a few months in this group, I asked myself whether or not consultancy was something that post-docs should aspire to?

I started my doctorate as a the next step in my ‘career.’ I wanted to develop my research, thinking and leadership skills. I also have many years experience working in industry.

I believe that, status and recognition aside, the majority of post-docs undertook a PhD in order to make an impact on society through their research and make other people’s lives better. At the same time, post-docs also need to pay the bills. A tough dilemma, because although Academia provides an environment for creative thought it is often the private consulting jobs that provide the financial benefits. So which is better?

It’s no a secret that universities are adapting to be, or at least look, more “corporate.” However, they still fundamentally remain an environment that encourages the development and sharing of new ideas and knowledge. Similiary, consulting environments can provide a wealth of data and information that would benefit researchers and encourgae innovative ideas (as well as the bigger pay packet).

Having thought about this, I realised that post-docs should not have to choose one over the other. It seems to me that time spent in both academia and industry could help expand the impact and scope of their research whilst developing essential leadership skills and access to a network of academic and professional experts.

For me, gaining experience in both environments is the key to being recognised as an expert in your field. The move from academia to industry does not have to be a permanent transition for post-docs but just one step in a long and often winding career path.

What do you think?

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