Research Area Life Sciences: The Trend Is towards Interdisciplinarity Interview: Julia Becker
As one of Germany's largest employers in the healthcare industry, Roche Diagnostics currently employs approximately 12,000 people, including numerous specialists from the field of life sciences. academics asked Head of Strategic Recruiting and Personnel Marketing at Roche Diagnostics, Dr. Anja Thies, about training, applying and perspectives.
academics: Dr. Thies, from which subject areas do your specialists come, and in what areas do they work?
Anja Thies: At Roche Diagnostics GmbH the main focus is on research and development, production, logistics, and marketing and sales of diagnostic and pharmaceutical products. We look for specialist personnel from the natural sciences, from engineering and business management.
academics: Are there subjects where you prefer graduates either from academies of applied sciences or from universities? If so, why?
Thies: In recruiting it is always the qualification that matters, along with personal aptitude and applicants' assessed potential. We determine all this by means of interviews and other selection procedures, e.g. assessment centres, that are aimed at achieving a holistic view. A degree is only one of many criteria in our selection process.
academics: Is there currently a shortage of young scientists in certain areas?
Thies: As a company with a high demand for engineers (both technical and scientific), the current shortage of engineers is also affecting Roche Diagnostics. But as an award-winning top employer for engineers this year we are optimistic that we are well positioned to compete with other employers.
academics: How important is a postgraduate degree in the industry? Are there subjects where a PhD is particularly advisable?
Thies: A career without a PhD is not impossible. However, over 90% of our employees in scientific graduate jobs have a doctorate. It's quite common to start out with a PhD here. Particularly for positions in the field of research and development a postgraduate degree is a prerequisite for natural scientists. This is due to the complexity of our project landscape, a challenge that simply cannot be met without a well-founded scientific basis.
academics: What particularly impresses and convinces you, as a HR manager, in applicants and their applications?
Thies: Personally, I always like to see applicants who have prepared their application and the interview well, have a clear idea of their abilities and aims, and are at the same time natural, down-to-earth and credible.
academics: What salaries are on offer in the industry and at Roche Diagnostics?
Thies: The life sciences industry is usually bound to the collective wage agreement for the chemical industry. It provides for a higher level of income compared to some other industries, and this is carried over into the non-tariff range.
academics: What qualifications are necessary for a career in the life sciences?
Thies: In addition to specialist qualifications, important factors for a career at Roche Diagnostics, for example, include a willingness to look beyond the end of one's own nose, an excellent knowledge of English, ideally management and/or teamwork abilities, not shying away from conflict but instead showing courage, carrying out one's duties enthusiastically and passionately and setting an example in terms of integrity.
academics: How interdisciplinary is working in the life sciences industry in general and at Roche Diagnostics in particular?
Thies: The trend in the life sciences industry seems to be increasingly heading towards interdisciplinarity. At Roche, for example, our areas of activity are focused on two divisions: diagnostics and pharmacology. In order to take advantage of synergies it is imperative that employees feel at home in both fields and think comprehensively.
academics: How important is it for prospective specialists in the life sciences to continue studying and furthering their education beyond their own subject area?
Thies: Demographic developments and the associated longer working lifetimes we will see in the future make it necessary that employees - especially in the highly dynamic field of life sciences - remain flexible. We recommend lifelong learning to our employees, particularly also beyond their own subject areas, and provide appropriate further education opportunities.
academics: Speaking of the economic crisis: what perspectives are there for young scientists who are currently seeking work in the life sciences industry?
Thies: Luckily, most companies in the life sciences industry have not so far been dramatically affected by the economic crisis. Therefore the range of available employment opportunities for graduates at many life sciences companies remains promising.
academics :: June 2010
Salaries in Science and Research