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Case Study: Gareth Lamb

Personal details
Degree:PhD in Chemistry Profile picture
School(s): School of Chemistry
Year of Graduation:Jun-2008
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Strategic Business Insights
Job title: Consultant
Occupational Sector: Strategic Consultancy
What has been your route to getting your current position?
MChem at the University of Liverpool then PhD at the University of St Andrews followed by a 4 year postdoc and Knowledge Transfer Fellowship at the University of Bath looking at the commercialization of technology for big pharma.
What does your job involve ?
As a technology and innovation consultant, I give my clients an insight into a number of different tech areas as well as being engaged in SBI’s future insights program, SCAN, which informs clients of emerging trends in technology innovation and highlights signals of change and patterns for new business opportunities. I also contribute to SBI's single client consultancy work focusing on scenario planning and opportunity discovery.
What are the best bits of your job ?
As a spin of from SRI international, SBI is HQed in Menlo Park right at the heart of Silicon Valley, with the likes of Facebook and Google as neighbours, so it's great when I regularly get the opportunity to go over for projects as well as meet some amazing clients. Researching cutting edge technology trends across a wide range of industries also means you could be working on a smart cities project one day then looking at 3D printing or new graphene applications the next, which satisfies my innate curiosity for science and keeps the little grey cells turning over.
Why were you successful?
Luck, hard work, determination, and perseverance. Kind of cliche but true. As my wife is also a chemist it was very difficult getting two jobs within the science field in the same town or city so that ultimately led us to move to London, then the luck part comes in as finding the right job is often difficult, so take time to think about what you want before you do anything then don't take no for an answer, use every network you have to find that job as the best jobs are never advertised. Be ruthless!
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
In order to get through your PhD good report writing, presentation skills, time management, and self drive are all a must. They're also probably the most important set of transferable skills in moving into the real world and yet I'm always surprised how many graduates lack them.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Don't do a postdoc, well certainly no more than 18 months. Controversial advice maybe but here's why: in the real world it doesn't count for anything unless you're really lucky, real world experience counts for far more and the chance you'll get that dream academic job are pretty slim. Do find yourself a role that challenges you and never stop learning, whether its a new language, a musical instrument, or a new technical skill. This mindset will pay dividends in the end.