Careers Column – July Edition

Careers Column – July Edition

Welcome to the BCREGMED career column where we feature scientific professionals in British Columbia. For this issue, we have Dr. Sharmin Esmailzadeh, Account Manager– Cell Culture Products, for STEMCELL Technologies.

Describe a typical day in your position? What are your day-to-day activities like?

Usually I start my day with responding to emails. I visit customers in Vancouver 2-3 days/week. Some of these labs are new customers, whereas the others are existing accounts. I also travel to other cities in Western Canada (Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Victoria) once every 6 weeks. I work closely with my inside rep who works from the office. We have weekly meetings to make sure we’re on the same page.

How did you get your current position?

I did a lot of volunteering in my last 2 years of grad school, including coordinating Jobs in Sciences interviews. During one of these interviews I learned about the Scientific Sales position at STEMCELL. I like science, as well as helping other scientists and I thought I can focus on both of these as a scientific sales rep. I also started reaching out to other sales reps at STEMCELL on Linkedin to learn more about their roles.

What are the working hours like? Are they mostly predictable?

If I’m working from the office, I usually work from 9am to 5 pm. If I’m travelling, I usually start my first meeting around 10 am and schedule the last meeting for no later than 4 pm. After the last meeting, I’ll catch up with my emails for a couple of hours.

How often do you travel for your job? Do you get to attend any conferences?

I usually travel once every 6 weeks. Yes, I get to attend conferences in Western Canada, as well as other local events such as career panels, research days, product shows, etc.

What skill set or knowledge has been most helpful (or you wish you had) for your current position coming out of graduate training (Grad school or post-doc)?

Having a PhD is really helpful in terms of communicating to other scientists, grad students and post-docs. I wish I had more experience in customer-facing roles before joining STEMCELL.

Do you work largely alone or as part of a team?

I work a lot with my inside sales rep and my other field rep counterpart, who’s covering all of our Immunology and Cell Isolation products.

How similar or different is your working environment now to that of academia/grad school? (they do not have to answer if they are in academia)

It’s very different. It can be a bit more stressful compared to academia due to all the deadlines and sales targets. There’s also more teamwork and interdepartmental collaborations compared to academia.

Do you get to publish?

No, we don’t get to publish in the sales department.

What advice would you give to trainees who are interested in working in your field or in a similar position?

To go to more career panels to become more familiar with different opportunities in industry. Also, reach out to people on LinkedIn with the job titles you’re interested in. People are usually open to talk about their roles and give you further information on their day to day activities. Also, try to attend as many networking events as possible and expand your network.