The Sassy Scientist – Pivoting to Business

The Sassy Scientist – Pivoting to Business

Frank freely admits he did a PhD because he didn’t feel ready to join the corporate world. Ties strangle him and he’s only ever seen 7am from the wrong side. But as universities and funding agencies request more performance metrics and research valorisation plans, he reached out to the Sassy Scientist to ask:

What can geodynamicists learn from the business world?

Dear Frank,

Low-hanging fruit, Frank, low-hanging fruit. That’s always the best place to begin your journey to scientific professionalism. You regularly take the temperature of the asthenosphere, so a few stakeholders in the grants office really shouldn’t slow you down. Once you’ve touched base with them and established alignment, you can dive deep into your core competencies. Drilling down will have to wait for the next IODP expedition though.

As a geodynamicist, you already possess many skills which are of value to the business world. After five years of LLSVPs, LVVs, LIPs and LLVJQXTZCs, jargon doesn’t phase you. You’re excellent at identifying quick wins a week before conference abstract deadlines. Visibility is forced on you three months later in front of your poster or on stage. Hit the ground running could be your middle name after the fourth postdoc (variants include “I’ll hold the coffee machine hostage until you give me a LAN connection”). We all know that content is king, impact is top of mind and we’re more than capable of thinking outside the box.

But parking your undeniable skills for a moment and moving forward, management and your future as a professor is where you can really learn from business. Students, postdoc and staff should flow through a continuous integrated pipeline. Often though, competing claims mean that managers just don’t have the bandwidth to effectively develop their staff, even when they manage a network of broadband seismometers. It’s painful to have to step back from research but at the end of the day there’s no “i” in team and the best way to synergise our research is through effective management.

Yours truly,

The Sassy Scientist

PS: I wouldn’t be called the Sassy Scientist if I wasn’t aware there is a “me” in team.

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I am currently employed at a first tier research institute where I am continuously working with the greatest minds to further our understanding of the solid Earth system. Whether it is mantle or lithosphere structure and dynamics, solid Earth rheology parameters, earthquake processes, integrating observations with model predictions or inversions: you have read a paper of mine. Even if you are working on a topic I haven’t mentioned here, I still know everything about it. Do you have any problems in your research career? I have already experienced them. Do you struggle with your work-life balance? Been there, done that. Nowadays, I have only one hobby: helping you out by answering the most poignant questions in geodynamics, research and life. I am waiting for you right here. Get inspired.

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