Image: Anne MacNamara
Thomas Collett discovered a way to get the schooling he needed to become a biotechnology leader: He joined a company that paid for it. His postdoctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., gave him entrance into McKinsey & Co, a worldwide management consultancy. As he traversed Germany on the firm's payroll, he developed the business networks and abilities to land an executive position at a startup company. Now, at only 38, he's a chief executive officer (CEO).
For most postdoctoral trainees--those who don't land jobs at tony consultancies--the road out of the postdoc cell and into management may be littered with frustrations and false starts. Nevertheless, whether in academia or biotechnology, researchers can learn from Collett's experience by transforming every turn into a new lesson.
"You need to be lucky to have all the transitions work, and you have to be mentally prepared...