Science + Business = An Unlikely Combination? Not so!

Hello fellow hemteck-ers,

As you may or may not know, I am currently pursuing both my BSc and a minor in business. When I tell this to people, I mainly get two reactions. The first which goes along the lines of “oh, that’s so cool!” and the second, “what the heck are you going to do with that?”. The conversation then transitions into my explanation of my decision to do a minor in business and the multitude of career options that are available by combining the two fields.

Ever since my high school days I have enjoyed taking both science and business classes. I took business courses such as accounting, marketing and international business – which easily became some of my favourite classes in high school. Alongside these courses I took the core biology, chemistry and physics as well. What I love about science is that its simply the study of life! Everything from the materials that the stars are composed of to the functions of your brain when reading this paragraph to the mind-boggling theories of quantum physics – science is literally everywhere! On the other, business is what helps make the world go around. It’s why you pay your taxes, how those ads on TV influence your buying habits and explains why companies like Apple continue to dominate the tech industry. How can you ever consolidate both fields into one career option? There are actually many possible avenues! Here I will introduce just some of the possible career options.
Science + Business
1. Biotechnology
The University of Toronto offers a Masters in Biotechnology graduate program which is a program described as where “science meets business”. The biotech industry consists of different agricultural, bioengineering, medical device and pharmaceutical companies that hire adept individuals who own a scientific background alongside business acumen. The MBiotech program is an example of where you can continue to develop specific lab-based skills as well as take business courses that will help you to understand the necessary concepts in areas like healthcare marketing and patent development. As an example, a career as a Clinical Lab Manager would require you to have a basic understanding of the type of research work being conducted in your lab and an understanding of concepts in the areas of accounting and finance to manage your lab in the most efficient way. What is the aim of your research? How much is your yearly budget for the types of experiments your lab will run? Can you write up a grant proposal for potential external funding? How will you work to manage your team and ensure that their work will be valued? As you can tell, the job description for this position requires you to apply your expertise in both the areas of science and business.

2. Health Policy
Do you find yourself passionate about certain topics in science related to ethics and law? Do you wish to advocate your opinion and be a part of the law-abiding process to make changes to the healthcare system? A career within health policy may be well suited for you! This field does not necessarily require individuals to have lab experience, so if you feel that this area is not your forte, you may be interested in pursuing a career within healthcare policy. Within this area are numerous careers, including policy analysis and policy development. In this field you may be using your research experience to study a specific area of the healthcare system, understanding the issues within the system and helping to formulate policies to address the issues present. Health policy can even be applied at the global level. For example, you can be employed with the World Health Organization to understand the reasons for poor sanitation in rural areas of India and work with a team to develop a clean water program, successfully deliver the project and frequently monitor results. Health policy is a multi-faceted area which requires individuals who have a passion for implementing change as well as the scientific knowledge, business and law-related skills to do so.

3. Healthcare Management
Healthcare management is essentially all about managing a healthcare project, company or organization. Careers in this area may either be within the profit or non-profit sector. Examples of such organizations include hospitals or pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline. There are different types of managers within different departments and levels that work towards achieving a variety of different goals. The main role of a healthcare manager would be to efficiently manage their team, department or organization to help accomplish the company’s common goal. This could mean working with different doctors and specialists within a hospital to understand what type of ward unit is needed to better serve patients, or it could mean overseeing your pharmaceutical company’s marketing strategy to better market your drugs and medical devices to other businesses. These organizations would benefit from individuals who have some background in science, whether it be your knowledge of disease epidemiology or the ways in which a drug’s chemical components can work to act as effective inhibitors. Healthcare management is a very diverse area that requires individuals to be good decision-makers and own the ability to continuously problem-solve to help their organization run smoothly.

4. Healthcare Consultancy
You may be interested in owning your own business – but if you’re in science what type of business would you own? If you do have an interest in both science and business you can become a healthcare consultant. You may start off as a consultant with another company and eventually when you have gained enough experience you can work at your own consulting firm. What do healthcare consultants do? They take their experiences and expertise in different areas of healthcare to offer sound advice to those seeking to improve their organization’s work. For example, a healthcare consultant may be hired by a medical device company to offer advice on how to better manage their expenditures and create a solid marketing plan to compete with other similar companies. Consultants require great interpersonal skills and are people-oriented. You may find that you’d prefer meeting with people consistently rather than staying stationed in an office – and if you own the knowledge and experience, you may excel within consulting! Consultants can work to provide guidance in several different areas of business which could include marketing strategies or advice on constructing business models. Again, this field is quite wide however you may find a niche role you really enjoy!

Business is a very broad field with the main areas being marketing, finance, accounting, and consulting. Scientific organizations are businesses themselves. They require people to manage their budgets, marketing strategies, financial statements and consult them in the best direction to move forward in. Any scientific institution you will come across will most likely have a department solely dedicated to each of these areas. So why not combine your passion for science with the practical business skills in a career that will allow you to bring forth your multiple talents? I hope this helped you to better understand the possible combinations which are not so unlikely anymore!

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