Succeeding in Industry Programme

Many postdocs move into scientific leadership roles beyond academia. ICR wanted its training offer to reflect that, giving agency to those not aiming for an independent academic career. ICR tagged training and career development opportunities as ‘succeeding in industry’ and/or ‘succeeding in academia’, and offered specific support and events on applications and recruitment in industry. ICR wanted to acknowledge that researchers might also be undecided, or plan to move between academia and industry, and the institute connected with alumni and Faculty who have done this successfully to deliver these sessions.

What kind of an organisation are you in the context of the Concordat?

Research Institute, ~1100 staff and ~300 in Concordat Implementation

What challenge were you trying to address with this initiative?

To highlight the wide range of scientific leadership roles beyond academia that our early career researchers move into and demystify the process of successfully making this transition. Offering clearer support and signposting to the significant proportion of our researchers who move into industrial rather than academic career paths. This signposting also aims to benefit managers of researchers who may not feel equipped to advise early career researchers about roles beyond academia.

What did you do and how does this align with the Principles and keywords you have selected below?

We surveyed ICR postdoc alumni to better understand their next destinations, what training undertaken at ICR was more useful for their career transition and what are the key knowledge needed for starting their new roles. We then tagged existing development opportunities as either ‘succeeding in academia’, ‘succeeding in industry’ or both and liaised with the ICR Postdoc Association to expand the training programme.

What were the challenges in implementation and how did you resolve them?

Ensuring that the programme combines the expertise and advice of the researchers who have transitioned into those roles but also that of recruiters and hiring managers who may not necessarily be our direct contacts. Exploring our existing industrial research collaborations has been one source of helpful contacts.

How did you evaluate the impact of your initiative?

Evaluations have included monitoring the staff survey responses around being trained for current and future opportunities, an increase in researchers registering for these sessions, positive feedback received in post-course feedback, a willingness of alumni to participate in the program and the postdoc population taking on ownership by initiating the organisation and hosting of sessions in this programme.

Were there any surprising or unexpected consequences?

Once underway, the early career researchers themselves have been keen to expand this programme to include a regular series of careers talks on different industry themes and recognise the value of doing this for their own skill development and expanding their professional network.

What advice would you give others wanting to do this?

Growing a good network of alumni (e.g., via LinkedIn groups) starting when researchers first join the organisation as postdocs (e.g., at orientation/induction sessions) becomes a great source of invited speakers, as well as an active pool of contacts for current researchers to access industry advice and mentorship. We have started posting a quarterly alumni newsletter featuring organisational news and alumni interviews to add interest to these pages.

Beneficiaries: Research staff Postgraduate researchers Technicians Managers of researchers

Stakeholders: Researchers Managers of researchers Professional staff

Concordat principles: Professional and career development

Keywords: Research culture Training Professional development Career management Diverse careers Postdocs Industry Alumni