The life sciences industry offers great career opportunities for BA and MSc students, PhDs and postdocs in pharma, biotech, chemistry or related fields. One of these career opportunities is consulting.

Caroline Talan, Account Manager Life Sciences at Pauwels Consulting, was recently invited by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) to talk about consulting in the life sciences industry.

We had a talk with Caroline about the key takeaways of her presentation.

BioTwist - Consulting tips for PhDs, Postdocs and students in life sciences - Pauwels Consulting

Caroline, can you please introduce yourself?

Caroline: I am Caroline Talan, Account Manager Life Sciences at Pauwels Consulting. I work for companies such as GSK, UCB, Pfizer, Mithra and Plasma Industries Belgium.

I am the liaison between these companies and our recruitment team at Pauwels Consulting. I analyze my clients’ needs and I make sure that our recruiters find the right consultants to take care of our clients’ project needs. It is also my job to make sure the consultants are happy with their missions, and that the clients are happy with the performances of our consultants.

“BioTwist aims to bridge the gap between academia and the industry”
You were invited to talk at BioTwist. Can you tell us a bit more about this event?

Caroline: Sure. BioTwist is an afterwork event organized by Bioinitiative, an association of Students from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). The aim of BioTwist is to bridge the gap between academia and the industry by introducing academic scientists (PhD, Postdoc, Professionals) and students (Ba-Msc) to different career paths in industry.

I was invited to share my views and a few tips and tricks about Consultancy in the Life Sciences industry with the students, PhDs, postdocs and other professionals in the room.

Nice. What did you cover in your presentation?

Caroline: Throughout the presentation, I gave answers to the following frequently asked questions about consulting in the life sciences industry:

  • What is consultancy?
  • What are my job opportunities as a life sciences consultant?
  • How can I switch from the academic world to the life sciences industry?
  • What type of jobs or projects can I do as a consultant?
  • How do I choose a consultancy agency?
  • How does the selection process work?
  • How can I improve my chances to be hired by a life sciences company?
Sounds interesting. Was the concept of consulting clear to everyone?

Caroline: I don’t think it was, no. And that’s no coincidence. Students seldom want to ‘become consultants’. They want to become chemists, pharmacists or biotech experts.

The logical way is then to start as an employee in a life sciences company. This is a valid option for sure, but I am confident that consulting can also offer many opportunities for a great career.

How come? What are the benefits of consulting?

Caroline: As a consultant, you can work on various projects with various companies. This way you can gain experience quickly. It also offers great opportunities for education and networking.

As a consultant, you have a lot of freedom to determine your career goals and to take the appropriate steps to achieve these goals.

“If you want to work with a consultancy agency, be sure to pick a good one that shares your ambitions and values.”
Which roles can consultants take?

Caroline: Nowadays, Life Sciences companies need consultants in every step of the production process.

We are continuously looking for consultants that can help our clients with research and development, production, packaging, supply chain optimization, customer service, quality assurance, quality control, validation, engineering, regulatory affairs, medical affairs, sales and marketing and IT.

Which tips did you give the attendees?

Caroline: Consulting is a great way of working when you want to be in control of your own career, but it also requires flexibility and a commercial and professional attitude. I shared the following practical tips for people willing to start a career as a consultant:

  • Experience is key: if you are a junior, consider investing in extra trainings to further improve your chances of being hired by a life sciences company;
  • Use job boards and social media, especially LinkedIn, to look for interesting companies and projects, and show you are looking for an opportunity in the Life Sciences industry;
  • Always prepare for your interviews because they are as important as your cv: work on your presentation skills, and don’t forget to give specific examples when the recruiter asks for it;
  • Be smart during salary negotiations: the combination of high salary expectations and limited industry experience do not give you a competitive edge. It is often better to take a lower paycheck at the beginning, and to gradually work towards reaching your goals (and a larger paycheck) later in your career;
  • If you want to work with a consultancy agency, be sure to pick a good one that shares your ambitions and values.
Excellent Caroline. Any last advice?

Caroline: Well, I concluded my presentation with the following statements:

  • Consulting is great if you are looking for a job with lots of variation and opportunities for continuous education.
  • As a consultant, you have a lot of freedom to determine your career goals.
  • Be careful with the consulting firms you work with. Not all firms will suit you equally well.
  • Be smart about your career planning. Set long-term goals and take small but conscious steps to achieve these goals.

I think this is conclusive for my presentation.

Thank you very much for this talk Caroline. Should people consider a consulting job in the life sciences industry, where can they reach you?

Caroline: I look forward to answering any questions by mail ( ) or phone: +32 9 276 31 49

Thanks again Caroline and all the best of luck with your projects.

More information?

Do you want more information about consulting or your job opportunities as a consultant in the life sciences sector?

Please have a look at our consulting tips and job application tips, and please don’t hesitate to contact us through the form below or via or +32 9 276 31 49 if you have any further questions.

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