Showcasing careers beyond academia

Philipp Langer

PhD in Chemistry, University of Nottingham (2019)
Senior Associate Consultant
Cambridge Healthcare Research (CHR)

Year entered into a non-academic position: 2019

Job highlight: Seeing my work have a direct, tangible impact

My research training set me up to… learn and process information in a structured way as well as giving me a desire to understand and solve complex problems

Left academia after: PhD


What’s your background?

After completing an MSci in chemistry, I stayed at the University of Nottingham to undertake my PhD in inorganic chemistry and then joined CHR in September 2019.

Why did you move away from academia?

I was looking for a more interactive, fast-paced working environment and wanted to develop a broader range of skills, while having a more direct impact in the healthcare space.

Is there anything you miss about academia?

I do miss the practical aspect of working in a lab.

How did you get this job? Did you face any challenges when considering a move away from academia or applying for the role?

I found and applied directly through LinkedIn. Researching the job and company you are applying to is key, both to ensure it is in line with where you want to take your career and to prepare for the application process.

What motivated you to/why did you choose the sector you transitioned into?

Coming from a science background, healthcare and specifically bringing novel medicines to the market to help patients is close to my heart. This sector also allows me to learn about interesting new research and technology at the intersection between academia and industry.

Did you think you had the skills required for your current position before you started? Were you right?

Honestly, it was difficult for me to imagine what my day-to-day work as a consultant would encompass, but I think people underestimate the significance of being passionate and willing to learn. At the end of the day, if you are receptive to new ideas and have the desire to improve you will pick up skills and progress quickly.

How did your PhD prepare you for your current job? For example, what were the transferable skills that you developed during your PhD that are most relevant to your current job?

Problem solving through research and analytical/critical thinking. A desire to learn and understand is also fundamentally important for both doing a PhD and my current job.

Did you have any preconceptions about your sector that proved to be wrong?

On the whole, my current job in the healthcare sector has been in line with my expectations.

Can you describe a typical week in your job?

I work across 3-4 projects as well as being involved with internal initiatives such as recruiting and Business Development activities, so my weeks vary a lot (which I love). Typically, I spend ~50% of my week planning and managing projects that I am responsible for and ~50% on work such as client interactions, research, or conducting expert interviews.

What is the workplace culture like? Please include comments on work-life balance, flexibility, remote working?

The work culture at CHR is overall very positive. There are crunch periods but there is also a lot of flexibility to accommodate personal working preferences and the company has adapted well to remote working.

Do people with a PhD frequently get hired in the company/sector?

Yes, it is considered a valuable qualification at CHR and in the sector as a whole.

What are your favourite parts of your job?

The problem-solving aspect is what I enjoy the most and the direct impact/value my work has is very rewarding.

What are your reflections on your career path?

I like my job at CHR because of the variety, both in terms of therapeutic area and the types of work that I do. A career in consulting can be challenging but also allows a lot of room for development and personal growth.

Do you have any advice for current graduate students and postdocs considering a career outside of academia?

If you are considering a career outside of academia, consulting is a great first step because it allows you to experience a broad range of work, while challenging yourself and providing the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when exploring a transition?

How many different types of roles are out there – you can definitely find something that you are passionate about.

Can you recommend any relevant resources, organisations or events that might help somebody new to the sector find out more about it?

There are a lot of good resources out there, but I think speaking to people in the industry is one of the best things to do. Messaging people on LinkedIn, explaining my situation and asking for a conversation worked well for me.

Cambridge Healthcare Research logoCHR in short

  • Cambridge Healthcare Research (CHR) is a consultancy providing strategic support to biopharmaceutical, medical device and NGO clients. CHR’s expert team of consultants delivers tailored solutions based on our analysis and experience of strategy consulting and product commercialisation
  • Our mission is to enable clients to navigate difficult decisions by providing a deep understanding of their market positioning and outlining competitor activities, intent, and capabilities. Joining the CHR team will provide you with commercial exposure to strategic challenges faced by the leading players within the pharmaceutical industry
  • We work with the world’s top pharma companies to make life-changing differences to patients. Working with C-level executives, senior brand managers or therapeutic area leads, CHR provides input to decisions made by these individuals affecting global brand or business worth millions and billions of sales. We are their strategic thought partner as our collaborations help shape their businesses’ trajectory. In addition to this, we help global NGO’s like unicef, WHO and Cancer Research UK
  • With 24 languages spoken at CHR and 29 employees hired during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are proud of our constant growth as a business and continue to thrive.

Why working at Cambridge Healthcare Research?

  • From day one, our consultants are placed on a structured onboarding plan that offers employees the highest quality training to ensure that they are able to develop at CHR
  • With a clear promotion and development path, we provide our consultants with various support to ensure they reach their full potential
  • Some of the benefits at CHR include:
    • Private Health
    • Life Assurance
    • Pension
    • Cycle to work scheme
    • Gym Membership
    • Beyond our client services, we are also involved in a range of charity projects, as we feel we have a corporate social responsibility commitment with the mission to empower individuals and society
  • Monitor our Careers website for the latest vacancies and opportunities to work with us