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Jobs in industry: quality management, regulatory affairs & health and safety

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Documentation and regulation

The term kafkaesque describes situations in which a helpless subject has to navigate an endless bureaucratic machinery, without ever getting to a meaningful outcome. What would the writer say to the group of jobs in this section? Would he be shocked that despite all the computers in use nowadays, we´re still printing out mountains of paper, file them, watch them get dusty and finally bin them? That we multiply the fire load in the company building with yet another mountain of documents, Health and safety, all signed in triplicates by every Tom, Dick and Harry? Or would he be amazed that all the complex procedures, which are happening in today´s enterprises, are documented and regulated in such a pragmatic and focused manner? Let´s first of all take a closer look at the individual groups of jobs.

As depicted in the SOP (Standard operating procedure) “17_04_14_Description of occupational groups”, we´ll first deal with the quality manager (QM). Once you have read this section, it officially counts as training of this SOP. Please sign this certificate, so that I can enter this training procedure into our overview matrix.

Do we exaggerate, even make fun, or is this the reality in a typical industrial context?

Let´s do a fact check. In order to get certifications (e. g.…

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lady working in lab

Jobs in Industry: Production leader

shutterstock_123525319If industry as such is the „real life“, then production is the beating heart of this real life. Which challenges await a production leader, how does her everyday life look like?

The main task is carrying responsibility. That primarily refers to the production process itself, which has to run smoothly and often even 24 hours a day. That in turn only works with a sufficiently large team of engineers and technicians. The work is thus marked by large staff responsibility, which comes along with a range of interpersonal and bureaucratic tasks. The pace of the work is set by the production process itself, undisturbed working time is thus a rare good. There is another side to this coin, though, as described by this production leader:

“Academia was not making me happy, flat and simple.  I am the kind of person that needs goals and the feeling of achieving reasonably quickly. Academia requires a certain patience, and more devotion. I needed to work in a field where I could see the results from my work in a quicker fashion, and in manufacturing you see this batch after batch!”

And then there is the responsibility for lowering the cost for the production process as well as the staff while at the same time increasing productivity. That like a Gordian Knot, but let´s first of all take a look at how these tasks can be performed successfully. Planning, delegating, trusting and controlling are probably the most important instruments along this path. In order not to be crushed by the conflicting interests of management, staff and safety requirements, you need a very clear and open communication style.…

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Eloi Montanez NaturalScience.Careers

No risk, no fun! – My career in academia

Eloi Montanez NaturalScience.CareersHe follows his dream, he wants to become a university professor. For years he fights himself through the German academic system, but that is not always easy. And the future is uncertain, very uncertain to say the least. An interview with Dr. Eloi Montanez (43 years old).

NSC: At what stage of your career are you?      

Eloi Montanez: I am a group leader. Meaning that I conduct independent research, apply for my own grants, have a few PhD students and a TA working for me. The next step, which should follow soon, is to get a permanent group leader or independent investigator position, or become a “W2 professor”.

NSC: Did you always want to become a researcher?

Montanez: Yes. However, if I read interviews with other researchers or young professors, their career paths are very smooth. Mine isn’t and that is mainly due to the fact that I sometimes had my doubts and followed interests outside of research. After my PhD I took a year off to travel the world, broaden my horizon, and to make sure that research was what I really wanted. Then after my postdoc, I took another few months to re-charge my batteries and travel with my partner.

Those “out times” were very good for me, they confirmed that fundamental research is what I want to do, and I learned lots of other things during those travels that you won’t learn in the lab. Getting out of my comfort zone and challenge myself a bit. Unfortunately academia does not really welcome those breaks.…

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For my own account! And not just for the Hirsch Index of my supervisor…


MicrobiologyAn interview with Dr. Kerstin Seyfarth

My interview partner of today shares the fate of many young scientists: she works for a few months here, then only for a mere few weeks there, sometimes even for just a single day! Has the world of science gone mad, does she get completely screwed over with these balkanised repeat fixed-term contracts? And how does Dr. Kerstin Seyfarth react to her own situation? Well, as happy as people are when they are very satisfied with their professional activities. She is not a battered academic on the non-tenure-track from postdoc project to yet another postdoc project, but a freelancer who is offering her services through the portal (Email: Thus she is not even aiming for anything else but to work in different projects for different employers. Her strengths lie in the consultation of companies regarding hygiene issues, which can be tackled with microbiological techniques, particularly within the GMP (good manufacturing practice) environment.

Dr. Seyfarth, I didn´t know that there is an established freelancer market for your field of expertise?

That´s because there isn´t one, there was not a queue in front of my door straight away. It was new for many companies that these kinds of issues can be addressed with external staff- or that these topics would be relevant for them in the first place! The feedback was mostly positive and I got my first contacts.

How did you get to these contacts?

Some through cold calls. Trade fairs are also very interesting.…

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