NGC Graduates

An interview with Sadhna Sahani

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Sadhna Sahani did her PhD in AG Nitsch and was the first one from the founders of NGC to defend her PhD last year. She made the transition from academia to industry and is now working in the regulatory affairs department at Coty, one of the world’s largest beauty companies. In the following interview, Sadhna tells us more about her professional growth and shares some tips to pursue a career in the industry.

What did you do after your PhD?

I finished my PhD in January 2018 and I worked as a postdoctoral fellow for a short while in University Mainz Imaging center (MAIC) in order to standardize the protocol for in-vivo calcium imaging in awake mice, to examine experience-induced neuronal plasticity in the somatosensory whisker pathway. Currently, I am working as a project manager in the global regulatory and corporate affairs division of Coty, where I deal with management of global registrations of multiple cosmetic categories depending on the legal requirements of different countries. Additionally, I am also part of the experts committee involved in making strategies for cosmetic innovations.

How difficult was it to find a job after the PhD?

Soon after I started working on my postdoctoral project, I thought of switching from academia to industry. Personally, it was because of the uncertainty of job contracts and the extremely competitive setting for publishing prevalent in academia. During my postdoctoral months, I applied for various positions in pharmaceutical and life science industries in the Rhine-Main region. I applied for most jobs via LinkedIn postings and for a few via Jobmonster. There is always a bit of struggle to enter the industry at first, because one of the basic requirements for any profile is the infamous “experience in industry”. A candidate fresh out of academia certainly does not come equipped with this! Therefore, I kept my job search very broad. In addition, I made my job application compatible with the job requirements with specific keywords, which I think is critical in getting through screening procedures via the human resource manager. In the end, I had three offers in my hand.

Which advice would you give to students who want to work outside of academia?

Once you decide to switch to industry, it is always beneficial to do some online courses such as, project management, operating advanced Excel, basics of economics, drug development, pharmaceutical innovations, etc. I recommend this not so much for the certificates, but rather for gaining a basic understanding of these different areas. I think it is helpful during the interview sessions.

What do you like the most in your new job compared to your previous life in the lab?

While working in the laboratory, we are usually focused on a deep understanding of a particular system. On the other hand, in an industry, we work with many different systems, but on a superficial level, unless you are involved in the research and development department. After joining the Industry, I greatly improved my skills in project management, presentations, handling multiple projects simultaneously, communication with senior business partners, etc. So far, I am enjoying working in the industry and I see an improved version of myself with respect to the above mentioned skills.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I work in an environment that promotes healthy competition. This keeps up one’s motivation to learn more and do better. I want to work hard and move up to the position of a senior executive and also maintain a balance between work and family. For the rest, I don’t really know what the future holds for me.

Written by Isabelle Arnoux; Edited by Radhika Menon. Featured image: NGC/Design.

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