Dr Parag Mahanti has an impressive resume. With a PhD in Organic Chemistry, the current Director of Investor Relations at Novartis Pharmaceuticals and co-founder of The Grad Grid networking group, Parag’s skills and knowledge are in demand. So we were incredibly fortunate to have Parag take time out of his busy schedule to speak to Rakesh and Matt about how he provides career clarity for PhD students and why an academic researcher's life isn't a good fit for everyone with a PhD.
According to new research from OECD, despite the shortage of permanent jobs in academia, universities still largely focus on preparing researchers for academia. Parag’s invaluable advice and insights from his own journey helps postdocs and PhD students around the world prepare for the job market and navigate life outside academia.
Initially, Parag was going to become an academic professor, as he thought this was the natural next step of PhD. During his journey, he discovered these things about himself that eventually led to his career pivot:
While Parag did not conduct any career experiments, he did unconsciously test different pathways by:
As a researcher, it should be natural to apply the same scientific experimental mindset to your career as you do to your research. But Parag admits that academia is often put on a pedestal and PhDs don’t worry too much about careers. Why?
Becoming an expert in your area of research is not how industries look at your experience. Parag started The Grad Grid because he believes many more resources are needed to help PhD students navigate the job market. Here are the questions to ask yourself if you are looking to transition out of academia:
Parag was incredibly thankful to Life Sprint for the opportunity to speak to such an engaged group of PhD students, and says more interactive opportunities like this should be facilitated. If you have an idea for an event or want to hear more about a specific career topic, we’d love to hear from you!
Check out the following PhD resources and books Parag recommended:
About Parag Mahanti PhD
Scientist by education, musician by passion, curious by inclination. Parag started off his career as a research scientist, obtaining his PhD in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Cornell University. Understanding the obstacles that international students face and beginning to question his own academic trajectory, Parag moved into life sciences strategy consulting before landing in pharma strategy at Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Passionate about motivating PhD students to explore and pursue non-academic careers, in 2016 he started the The Grad Grid community with the explicit intention of sharing resources and advice on career networking, and to help people connect outside of their lab.
About Life Sprint
Life Sprint is a four-week process for tackling career stuckness. Inspired by design thinking and coaching theory, Life Sprint has been designed to help reframe career challenges, identify obstacles and take small but powerful steps toward a better life.
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