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Making the Transition from Bench Chemists to Another Role

Katherine Lee provides some practical advice and her own story on making the move from the bench to something new
Industry Matters Newsletter

Youtube ID: YfgBJCYu00Y

Katherine L. Lee, Senior Director, Head of Scientific Planning and Operations, Inflammation and Immunology Research Unit, Pfizer: [00:00:00] So I would, if it were me, bring it up with my boss. I would talk with other people at the company to make it known that this was my goal. It can be kind of scary, right? I can say that for many years at my job that, why yes, we had to do development plans that I just said that out loud, we had to do development plans.

But, that part about being honest about what I was looking for? I wasn't honest, I was very safe in what I'd write down. So I think saying it out loud, writing it down, having a discussion with my supervisor was really a key to putting it out there. All of my business experience, I experienced first through our ACS local section.

That's the first time I actually could understand that a budget was a forecast versus the real, the actual, and how to be responsible for a $300,000 annual operating budget. That was my experience. So then I guess when an opportunity came up, I felt comfortable applying for a position.

My current job is something I couldn't even describe to you what strategy and operations was before I applied for the job. But I had coffee with the person who was retiring and just said, "Hey, Paul, tell me what you do." And by the end of that 30 minutes, I knew I wanted to apply for the job.

So I think being open-minded, building up that expertise, whether it's from volunteer work or some other way is something that really helped me make that transition.