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Former PhDs talk about careers outside academia

Bangor University alumni Dr Melanie Davies (PhD Biological Sciences 2003, Post-doc North West Cancer Research Fund Institute 2004-2008) and Dr Les Pritchard (PhD Computer Science 2004) returned to their alma mater on Wednesday afternoon to talk about their careers outside academia.  Dr Melanie Davies, now Testing and LIMS Process Specialist for Siemens Healthineers, described how her time as a PhD student and postdoc had enabled her to begin a successful career in industry. Dr Les Prichard who is the director of Neterix, a cyber security company, shared his experiences of academia.

Organised as part of the University’s 2020 Researcher Development Programme, the workshop gave attendees, who may be considering a move to industry, the opportunity to hear from academics who have made that transition and to challenge the perception that academia is a typical progression after doing a PhD. Attending the event were PhD students and Postdocs from various schools across the University who shared their own thoughts and motivations for considering careers outside academia after listening to the talks from the two speakers. 

Dr Melanie Davies (PhD Biological Sciences 2003, Post-doc North West Cancer Research Fund Institute 2004-2008) and Dr Les Pritchard (PhD Computer Science 2004

Dr Melanie Davies (PhD Biological Sciences 2003, Post-doc North West Cancer Research Fund Institute 2004-2008) and Dr Les Pritchard (PhD Computer Science 2004

Peter Butcher, a post-doc in the School of Computing and Electronic Engineering said “it was a good event. It opened my eyes to many different pathways available to me. I really enjoyed hearing from both Melanie and Les, especially hearing their motivations for wanting to make the switch from academia into industry and the opportunities that it has afforded them, and compromises and sacrifices they had to make along the way”.  

Peter went on to say that “Dr Davies attributed most of her success to the skills and experiences she had gained during her time in academia, and explained that her reasons for moving to industry were partly financial and that she was ready for new challenges.”

Peter continued “When I was a student at Bangor, Dr Pritchard taught me, and it was good to catch up.  It was good to hear about his experiences with his PhD; and the self-guided, flexible-working nature of a PhD suited him well. He mentioned that he had visions of one day starting his own business which motivated him to move into industry.  Dr Pritchard gave some good advice to end his talk: saying we shouldn’t be afraid to make choices that we feel are right. Even if someone steps out of academia, nothing is permanent, and we can always step back in at some point in the future.”

Publication date: 18 March 2020