DPhil in Medical Physics, University of Oxford
|Consultant / Physicist|
|TTP plc (The Technology Partnership)|
Job highlight: Doing interesting science as part of real, commercial projects
Postgraduate take-away: Working independently; communication skills
What is your background?
I studied for an undergraduate degree in physics, which I followed up with a DPhil in medical physics. My DPhil focused on developing new imaging methods using MRI scanners.
Why did you move away from academia?
What I really enjoyed in academia was the feeling of being involved in brand new research which nobody had done before, and being able to choose the direction of research myself. What I disliked was the lack of job security and the disconnect between ongoing research and ‘real-world’ applications. I was looking for a job which would allow me to continue doing scientific research but with commercial applications in mind, and TTP allows me to do just that.
What does the company do?
TTP is a technology consulting company that carries out R&D and product engineering for other companies. In practice, this means we are often asked to help in the design, manufacture, or troubleshooting involved in getting from an initial concept to a product that’s on the market. The company is primarily made up of engineers and physicists who enjoy problem solving and responding to the commercial pressures that our clients face. The work involves tackling a wide variety of technical problems ranging from understanding the fundamental physics behind a new sensor, to managing the scaling-up of a production process in a cost-effective manner.
What is the work like?
The work is incredibly varied! One day I could be running experiments in the lab, the next writing a proposal for a potential new client. TTP encourages all its employees to get involved in all aspects of the business – not just working on project teams, but also leading them and finding new business opportunities. Not many companies give you this range of opportunities so early on in your career.
What is the company culture?
If I had to describe TTP’s company culture in a single word, it would be ‘freedom’. Of course, this comes with a certain amount of responsibility too. TTP tries hard to minimize unnecessary bureaucracy, allowing consultants to spend more time on the interesting aspects! You are given the freedom to manage your own time (e.g. how many projects to work on), the freedom to develop new business areas, and, most importantly, the freedom to keep learning. Your opinions will be taken seriously from day one, and you will be able to make a real contribution to getting products on the market.
What were your transferable skills?
I was surprised at how many of the skills that I developed during my postgraduate years really helped me in my job. During my DPhil I learned to work independently and manage my own time, choosing my own path of study and recognising that there is always more than one way of approaching a problem. I also discovered the importance of communication: sharing knowledge and coming up with new ideas is so much easier if you pitch your research at the right level for your audience, and persuading a friendly post-doc to help you with a problem can save a huge amount of time.
During my DPhil I also found more time to get involved in extracurricular activities compared with my undergraduate degree. Helping to run social events in my college and acting as manager of a university orchestra definitely helped my communication and organisational skills.
Advice for job applications
Take time over writing your cover letter – it is the first thing a hiring manager will see, and is often used as a starting point for conversations in the interviews. I would suggest focusing on your motivations for applying to this particular job, supporting your statements with any relevant experience that you have.
When you start getting interviews, treat them as a two-way process: the company is trying to assess whether you are a suitable candidate, but equally important is that you should be working out whether you really want to work for them. You can learn a lot more from an interview than you can from a company website or a short chat at a careers fair.
As a technology and product development company, we work closely with our clients to create disruptive products based on advances in technology and engineering. Our innovation lies behind many well-known products and works in areas as diverse as healthcare, life sciences, communication, printing, security and industry.
From medical devices to outer space, you’ll have the opportunity to create new technologies, develop commercial propositions, explore new markets and opportunities and, if you have a great idea, create completely new business – TTP has a successful model of creating spin-out businesses.
You will discover we are different from most companies. We are unorthodox, independently minded and constantly challenge the ordinary, particularly when it comes to technology.
We believe good ideas are always worth exploring and we operate in an environment that encourages freedom and autonomy. At TTP, structures and hierarchy are kept to a minimum. That’s why at TTP a career is a personal journey. Our multi-disciplinary teams and the varied work we do will provide you with plenty of opportunities to create your own path.
Because TTP is employee-owned, we all have a stake but also share the rewards. We take calculated risks, make long-term investments, and have the time and freedom to build the technology of the future.