The Difference Between Science and Business

I’ve had the fortune of meeting with a lot of talented first year MBA students over the past few months. As a recent graduate myself, I enjoyed learning about peoples’ backgrounds and their career ambitions. Sitting here on the plane returning from a recruiting event in North Carolina (I wrote this post in fall 2015), I’ve been reflecting on the exceptional talent that currently exists at the top MBA programs.

Something stood out to me from these events – there is a surprising amount of people with scientific backgrounds in business school today, some of which even have their PhDs and want to transition into business through the MBA. These career switchers seem to be recruiting mainly for consulting roles or pharmaceutical roles in the health care industry.

As current first-year MBAs are neck-deep in recruiting, I thought it may be worthwhile to write a post about the differences between working in science and business. This would be based on my own experiences and observations, and also from my conversations with the folks who came before me. My core readers are people with non-traditional backgrounds trying to break into business, and this may be of interest to you all.

Many of the folks I’ve met have read my blog and it’s very motivating to learn this. My sincere thanks to folks who have stopped by just to say hi.

Science is about individual contribution, business is about leadership

When you’re working in the lab, whether it’s academic or in industry, you are expected to do experiments or lab work. When I was working at the NIH, I observed post-bacc’s (like myself), PhD students, post-docs and PIs. I do think the best PIs must have leadership skills, but the pinnacle of a person’s scientific career – say a Nobel Prize – is not based on said person’s leadership skills, but their scientific brilliance.

When you are in science, you are an individual contributor. Your performance is evaluated based on your output. One common compliment for young scientists is that they have “good hands” – I’m sure some of you have heard this before. For the aspiring scientist, a first author paper on a prestigious journal is career-making, which indicates that this person did the most work and wrote the paper.

Success in business, on the other hand, is based on a person’s leadership skills. No CEO became CEO because this person was the best programmer, or best designer, or came up with the best ideas. It was because the most talented folks wanted to work for this person, and said person created the necessary environment and systems for talent to thrive and work in an organized and effective manner.

Scientists who want to get into business need to change their mindset from being a top contributor and into an effective leader. The MBA teaches this, but there is so much flexibility in MBA programs that it’s easy to miss this. I personally didn’t pick up on this until my internship when I had the opportunities to engage with leaders in a real way for the first time. That’s why I immersed myself in developing well-rounded leadership skills in my second year of the MBA.

I’m not saying you’re not expected to contribute individually as a recently minted MBA graduate in an entry level business role. In fact, in your first few roles out of MBA you will be expected to lead projects versus leading people and teams which would be a secondary priority. However, to move up in business you must demonstrate your leadership potential and have the ability to create a collaborative environment and motivate others to perform.

Business is all Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

I can count on one hand how many talks by senior leaders where there was no mention of the word Emotional Intelligence, or EQ. It’s almost a bit repetitive hearing about it so much, but it’s only spoken of so much because it is true. When you’re in business, it’s all about the people, the relationships you forge with them, and the influence you wield.

When you’re in science, it is no exaggeration that you could spend an entire day and not talk to a single person. Man, when I was doing week-long experiments, I needed that space so I could focus and not mess up and lose months of work because I forgot to add a reagent or two. However, in business you could be in meetings all day and must do individual work in-between meetings.

When folks ask me what was the most unexpected thing about transitioning into business, the amount of meetings and the engagement required was the one that always comes to my mind. That was the single biggest thing I remember from my internship. As an MBA intern, you are expected to lead meetings with vendors, matrix team members, and your own team. It’s very interesting (and fun) since you are essentially leading without influence. During your MBA application process, this is also something schools measure you on.

It was a new culture for me to adapt to at first, since I was used to thinking on my own and only contributing to the portion of work that I was responsible on team projects. I was fortunate and received feedback on this during my internship and after I realized that this was a developmental opportunity I seized the moment and began working on my interpersonal skills and how to motivate others.

That’s why in my second year I took mostly classes that were experiential – classes that gave me the opportunity to practice this skill. Business Improv is an example of this, where I discuss here in my blog. This is really where I think science and business separate – in science, you’re measured mainly on your IQ. You could be the most difficult-to-work-with person but if you produced results it was considered okay. This would be a major red flag in business, as it’s all about team performance.

If you’re going for an MBA, you probably already know this. My advice would be to be more deliberate in training this skill and being comfortable in big teams and leading them – formally or informally. It’s all about finding the right opportunities during the MBA to do this well.




32 comments :

  1. There are some fascinating points in time in this post but I do not know if them all center to heart. You can find some validity but I am going to take hold opinion until I consider it further. Good article , thanks therefore we want a lot more! Added to FeedBurner as well incasso credifin-nederland.nl

    ReplyDelete
  2. If more people that write articles really concerned themselves with writing great content like you, more readers would be interested in their writings. Thank you for caring about your content. high quality Automatic Recirculation Valve

    ReplyDelete
  3. I like this post,And I figure that they having a great time to peruse this post,they might take a decent site to make an information,thanks for sharing it to me. digital entrepreneur

    ReplyDelete
  4. Afterward, he knocks her out with a drugged drink so he can get her out of the line of fire. TrainingRoomSG

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello, thank you for posting this article regarding – Gulvafslibning | Kurt Gulvmand I was really wondering myself where to search for this, until I found this page with the help of bing while looking for – Gulvafslibning | Kurt Gulvmand I really appreciate this nice blog, it helped me a lot! Total Quality Management Company

    ReplyDelete
  6. I came onto your blog while focusing just slightly submits. Nice strategy for next, I will be bookmarking at once seize your complete rises...
    Joshua T Osborne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As long as you’re a citizen of the UK, you’re 18 years old, and you also have a job with a steady income, you should be paydayok that isn’t reliant on your credit history.

      Delete
  7. There is a sceince behind building of muscles. helpful resources.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business. אסטרטגיה תדמיתית

    ReplyDelete
  9. סדנת מכירות קורס המכירות וסדנת המכירות הכי טובים בעולם

    ReplyDelete
  10. Starting a new business can be a challenge with many find more information to overcome. Having a set of goals can help you focus so you can be successful in launching your new company.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm glad I found this web site, I couldn't find any knowledge on this matter prior to.Also operate a site and if you are ever interested in doing some visitor writing for me if possible feel free to let me know, im always look for people to check out my web site. הדרכה מכירות

    ReplyDelete
  12. Online Advertising is splitting into several ways of advertising procedures which are gaining popularity amongst advertisers. It seems that both customers and companies simultaneously are benefiting from them. brainclubs.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have read all the comments and suggestions posted by the visitors for this article are very fine,We will wait for your next article so only.Thanks! business

    ReplyDelete
  14. I am not Bed Bugs Treatment Abu Dhabi where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic information I was looking for this info for my mission.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Any business advisor will tell you the answer, but what's happening in the real world? Here are a few examples: VAT - When Jeanne started her exercise class business, she decided after taking advice that she wouldn't register for VAT. vladimir vrbaski republika

    ReplyDelete
  16. It’s the best time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or advice. Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read even more things about it! Guides

    ReplyDelete
  17. You produced some decent points there. I looked over the internet for your problem and located most individuals goes coupled with together with your internet site. how to close your skype account

    ReplyDelete
  18. Any business advisor will tell you the answer, but what's happening in the real world? Here are a few examples: VAT - When Jeanne started her exercise class business, she decided after taking advice that she wouldn't register for VAT. Cash app help

    ReplyDelete
  19. Single tenant, net lease investing is an excellent way to invest in real estate, but what is the best way to finance your NNN property? Net lease deals can be financed with conventional (bank, insurance company) commercial mortgage loans or through credit tenant lease (CTL) lending. This article can help NNN investors decide which might be best for them. payday loans in ny

    ReplyDelete
  20. It's no secret that more and more people are buying products and services on the internet because of convenience, choice, price and instant service. Starting an online https://adesk.cheapsoftwaredownload.net/autodesk_ecs.html and being part of the booming e-commerce world really is easiest business to start. But why?

    ReplyDelete
  21. I see your point, and I totally appreciate your article. For what its worth I will tell all my friends about it, quite resourceful. Later. देसी कैलेंडर

    ReplyDelete
  22. If you suddenly need cash, you can discount the gift certificate to us and use it for cash. Cultural gift certificates are Culture Land, Happy Money, and Book Culture Gift Certificates.  소액결제현금화

    ReplyDelete
  23. In fact, in your first few roles out of MBA you will be expected to lead projects versus leading people and teams which would be a secondary priority.very Nice Information. משרדי יחסי ציבור בתל אביב

    ReplyDelete
  24. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work. Marble Falls Insurance

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information. I will visit your blog regularly for some latest post. I will visit your blog regularly for Some latest post. live casino malaysia

    ReplyDelete
  26. An online business isn't for everyone. It takes hard work and dedication to make a success of it. But the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. Working from anywhere with a laptop and never having to work for anyone else again are two of my most compelling reasons to keep working hard at my home based business. showbox for iphone

    ReplyDelete
  27. I like this blog so much, saved to my bookmarks . Free $50 Uber Promo Code

    ReplyDelete
  28. When travelling for business, efficiency is all important. Making sure you have secured fast check in for the airport will help reduce your waiting time, allowing you to spend more time working. 출장샵

    ReplyDelete