Dr. Svenja Tiede
GGL member from 2010 to 2013
MLM Medical Labs GmbH, Germany
Portrait from May 30, 2019
When did you become member of the GGL?
I started as a GGL member in 2010 and finished my doctoral research in 2015.
What section did you belong to during your time at GGL?
I belonged to section 3, heart, lung, and blood vessels.
Where do you work and what is your position?
I work as a Clinical Study Manager at MLM Medical Labs GmbH.
How did you get your current position and how was the application process?
For private reasons I wanted to move to Düsseldorf and looked for jobs in the area. Since it is difficult finding positions in research I wanted to get out of my specialization in order to be more flexible in terms of new jobs, I looked on the website of the BVMA (Federal Association of Medical Contracting Institutions / Bundesverband medizinischer Auftragsinstitute) for companies in the vicinity of Düsseldorf and advertised jobs. I applied for an advertised job at MLM Medical Labs. Since I was travelling from Berlin for the job interview, it was not a problem to move the appointment to a Friday, smaller companies are more flexible with such things. The interview consisted of two interviews with different employees and supervisors and was very positive.
What do you do on a typical working day?
It is an office-based job with occasional outside appointments or business trips. There are set appointments during the week for meetings with supervisors, team leaders and the team. Everyday work is versatile and varies as new things are always occurring and plans have to be rescheduled. I can decide for myself which project I need to work on next and for how long, while also maintaining an overview of the timelines. But there are also some routine tasks that go with the job. Communication with other departments, in the team and with customers plays a very important role. The preparation of the study-specific documents in exchange with the client and the internal scheduling of the studies take a great deal of time.
What was your field of research during your doctoral studies? Are you still working on that?
I investigated lung proteome changes in a rat model of pulmonary hypertension with the aim of finding new biomarkers, signaling pathways or pathomechanisms of the disease. I continued to work on biomarkers for pulmonary hypertension during my time as a postdoc, and then on biomarkers of infection at my job at Thermo Fisher Scientific. At MLM we also provide biomarker measurements but as a clinical study manager, I am no longer specialized in an indication.
Did the GGL’s program prepare you well for your subsequent career challenges?
I did not realize the big the difference between the university and a job in the industry until I left the university. I also do not know if you can be well prepared for this if, like me, you did very few internships in industry. You are always a little thrown into the cold water. A company with hierarchies, different departments, and budget planning and employee appraisals simply works quite different and many tasks in everyday work life simply do not exist at universities.
But what helped me was the soft skills course, such as presentation, communication, intercultural differences, etc. In a company, you have to be able to work with colleagues from other departments at different levels, or depend on their input. Therefore, skills in this help you a lot. I think it is also very helpful for doctoral candidates to have a mentoring programme such as "PALS - Pathway into Life Science Professions" of the GGL, since you have many questions when you start to apply. Benefiting from the experiences of others, who have already done this a couple of times and know the job market from their own experience, can be very helpful.
During my time in the GGL I also attended a training day on assessment centers, I believe in the psychology departement. This day has helped me a lot to understand what employers are looking for.
All in all, it's about finding the right job for you. However, you do not learn how to do this at the university.
When you think back to the different elements of the GGL program, what part was specifically important for you?
At that time, the exchange with the other doctoral candidates was important to me, who is where and what happens next. And the above mentioned soft skill courses. The company visit at Boehringer Ingelheim was also very interesting for me at that time.
What piece of advice would you like to give to our new members?
I would use as many offers as possible, as everything gives a little insight and valuable training.
The conferences with posters and talks were not that important for me, because I was attending the graduate program MBML, which was more related to by PhD topic. However, if you are not involved in any other graduate program, the training offered at the GGL is very useful.
Would you recommend the GGL for young students, who consider obtaining a doctorate in life sciences?
Yes, in any case.
The chances of staying in your current area of expertise are very low and the other skills and expert knowledge are important.