"I completed a doctorate in the Institute for Manufacturing in the Department of Engineering of Cambridge University in 2008. I looked at the generic components and structure of the decision-making involved in assessing breakthrough innovations within companies.
"After graduating in physics, I worked in the satellite industry. I started off in the R&D department, moving to business planning and regulatory strategy. During this time I realised that many of the ‘tools’ used to manage companies did not apply to the innovation domain, and I wanted to find out more – undertaking original research in the area seemed like a good way to address this.
"I went straight into consulting after my doctorate. A significant draw was the fact that McKinsey & Company actually has a specific entry point for doctoral graduates as well as a tailored training and development package, i.e. recognition is given to your intellectual and problem-solving abilities, but more of the basic vocabulary of business is taught (most other employers I spoke to simply referred me to their undergraduate trainee programme). I was also attracted by the intellectual challenge and rapid development trajectory. The intensity and pace of the work always means that you are having to think as hard as during your doctorate – just faster!
"Although there is some overlap between my research subject and my current work area, the transferable skills I developed during my doctorate have been more important. It has left me with important communication skills. The ability to take a large and messy problem, scope it, work out priorities, then carve it up into manageable chunks is complemented by an increased ability for self-management. On a personal level I valued time spent amongst intelligent people with a passion for what they do. I attended a GRADschool and would highly recommend it. As well as the fantastic company I learnt a lot – notably that there was life outside my PhD!"