Join us for an inspiring episode hosted by Tina Persson, featuring Gry Wester, a fellow PhD Career Stories listener who transitioned from academia to consulting.
Are you feeling frustrated and unproductive in academia? Do you feel compelled to quit and completely change your career?
Gry holds a PhD focused on health inequality and population health ethics, and she was a lecturer in bioethics in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King's College London for nearly five years, after which she pivoted careers. Today, she works at the consultancy company IQVIA, in London.
In the episode, Tina and Gry reminisce about early coaching sessions and important topics they brushed on back then, such as persistence in the face of the grueling job-search, and then dive deeper into Gry’s self-discovery journey, as she shares the mindset shift that propelled her into the consultancy world. They reflect on the initial challenges of Gry’s first job as well as the key working style differences that made her realize she was a better fit for the corporate world, rather than academia.
Gry also offers you valuable tips on career shift, highlighting the importance of networking, maintaining your personal well-being during the job search, and learning to let go of perfectionism. At the end of the day, you have to “trust the process!”.
Tina Persson: Hi and welcome to PhD Career Stories. This is Tina Perrson and I'm the host of today's podcast together with Gry Wester. And I must say that I am super thrilled today because, Gry, you are a former client of mine and I know you have done a fantastic journey in transforming your career. You are today working at IQVIA, a consultancy company in London, and two years earlier you were a lecturer at King College in London and you contacted me because you wanted a career change. You wanted to leave the academic context and what we're going to talk about is that journey and your journey both when it comes to your mindset and attitude. You had to change to succeed because today, Gry, you are very, very successful. So, very welcome to the podcast!
Gry Wester: Thank you so much, Tina! First of all, I want to say I'm really excited to be on this podcast. I listened to this podcast myself a lot when I was (...) transitioning. So, I found it really inspiring to hear other people's stories and also really helpful. So, I'm really honored to be a guest on this podcast myself.
Tina: There you see: When you dream of something, you suddenly end up in the same situation. So, now you’re going to share your story with people so you can inspire future podcasts to hear in PhD Career Stories. We're going to start by going back (...). I wanted to go back and I think about when you were a lecturer at King College - what and how and when did you start to think about sort of “I want to leave this environment”? What triggered that? Could you help us to understand that situation a little bit better?
Gry: Yeah, so I think, as for maybe many people, the pandemic and lockdown - we had a very severe lockdown in the UK where I’m based. So, I think the life changes that came with that mark some alarm bells ringing, in a way. (...) Before the pandemic, I would do a mixture: working from home and going to the office. And then, of course, during lockdown we had to work purely from home. But I think that made it very visible to me that I could do my job almost entirely from home. I mean, there were the lectures, which we then did virtually, but for some [time] I had maybe one or two lectures a week, which is not a lot, so I knew, aside from that, during normal times I thought wow I could really do my job entirely in isolation. And I knew that wasn't right for me. That's where I started to realize that isolation, being so much alone - I thought “This is not good for me”. So that was one thing. I think another thing - but that's kind of been ongoing through the ten years I was an academic, through postdocs, in my position at King’s - I'd really struggled to write research papers. I really lacked motivation to do it. I'd get excited about an idea, I'd write something and then I'd get unexcited about the idea, I'd lose interest in that. So I had a lot of half-written or quarter-written papers in my drawer. People kept telling me “well, you can't do that, you need to publish”, but I genuinely didn't care about publishing these articles. So that was a thing that had kind of been boiling, simmering in the background. But then during the pandemic - I'm from Norway originally and I had the opportunity to take part in a quite, sort of fast turnaround - I was a part of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s ethics committee, (...) with a group of other experts we were going to give advice to the Norwegian government about who should get the corona vaccine first. So this was a great privilege to take part in this work and it was a very quick turnaround compared to what kind of work I normally do, because we had maybe three months to do the work. We met weekly or maybe several times weekly to discuss and then (...) the sort of secretariat of this group did all the writings, I was just taking part in the discussion. Of course this is a very serious situation and all of that. However, I really, really enjoyed that work and the nature of the work. There was a clear result that we needed to come to an agreement. There was going to be public scrutiny of the result, the result was needed. It was work that we were doing not because we were interested in it, but the results were needed for a purpose. So, all of these things, (...) the contrast between how I felt doing this work and all these research articles that I was slogging away on with so much lack of motivation - that was another big clue to me, I think, that I was like “Wow! I could be so much happier!” with a different type and style of working. So (...) looking back, I think I was unhappy in academia for a long time, I probably felt stagnated and like nothing new was happening. The only new thing that was happening was trying to write more and more papers on new topics, but it didn't excite me. But yeah, I didn't realize that I was unhappy until lockdown happened and all of these other things. So, it was an opportunity to reflect on my life, my career and to try and think about doing something different.
Tina: (...) And I remember that was the moment you reached out to me, but I’d like to stay in this moment a little bit and ask you what made you finally take the decision “I need help”?
Gry: Yeah, I think that was the big step for me, because I have also learned in this process that I'm not very good at asking for help. I'm used to battling it out, fighting it out on my own. But I think I realized that, once I sort of made the decision to myself - “Wow, I'm really going to leave!” - that was a really scary moment, because I thought “Well, I have no idea, really no idea what else I want to do”. I had some kind of vague ideas, yes, from sort of that COVID work. I liked that style of work but had no idea what job I would do, because I'd never thought about it before.
Tina: Yeah, it was sort of a blind spot in your experience. But I will go back here, because I remember something in the beginning of the coaching when we met, you reached out to me and you mentioned here that you listened to this podcast and maybe got inspired. So we know that was very important, but I remember you started the coaching with me and you were looking for new opportunities while you were still working in the old position and then, from one coaching session to the other, you just quit the job. And that was very brave! (...) I know there are listeners sitting, thinking “Should I quit the job and then focusing on finding something else? Or what should I do?”. And you actually did that, Gry! Could you elaborate around how you came up with that solution, that “Well, I actually quit. I say ‘No’, and I'm going to look for new opportunities full-time.”
Gry: (...) I didn't kind of quit with immediate effect. I mean, what happened was, I think, you also encouraged me to do it. (...) Having been on, you know, numerous postdocs, which are two or three years in length, and then I had this position at King’s which was a fixed-term contract, so one year and then they renew and it depends on external circumstances whether you get renewed your contract the next year. So I was very anxious about this and very aware of my lack of job security, but I think at this stage when I was working with you I had the right to be considered permanent, or I could request that, to be transferred onto a permanent contract. So my decision, it wasn't sort of quick, straight away, but it was deciding not to request the permanent contract. Which was a big step for me, because I was like “here's the security net for me. If I don't ask for this security net, my job will end in May”, or whatever it was, and so that was the decision for me. So I still had a job for another five, six months but to me that was super scary, because I had been worried about this for so long, so many years, pretty much my entire academic career worried about the future. So (...) how could I make that decision? I think it was a feeling that it was holding me back, that I knew I had this security or I could get the security and that would maybe make me push less hard towards finding the new job. Because it's hard, it's really hard, (...) it's like an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes you get excited - especially in the beginning, you get excited about a conversation you had, people said something that sounds like an opportunity and then nothing comes of it and it's heartbreaking and you think “oh, god…”. And then you get a bit wiser and you stop getting super excited about little things like that. Yeah, so it's hard! All of that period is hard and it's tempting to stop and to think “oh, I can't, I don't want to continue with this. It's too much uncertainty, too much emotional turmoil. Let me just stop this project altogether”. So I was worried that that was going to happen to me, I thought “If I definitely don't ask for the renewal of the contract and I just let it run out, I know there's like a deadline in sight and I have to work hard, keep pushing hard towards getting a job before that ends.”
Tina: Yeah, because you made a decision. So if you try to define it with one or two words, what would you say when you're looking back now was your biggest hindrance of just quitting the job, if we put it that way, a bit dramatic.
Gry: Hmm, my biggest hindrance…? Yeah, worries about the future, maybe. (...) I guess in academia you learn that there is such scarcity of jobs, you get really worried you're not going to make it. I have a completely different mindset now when I have a different kind of job. And it's not easy to get a new job, but I just know I feel much more confident that (...), if I lose my job or something, that I'd be able to get a new job.
Tina: Yeah, and I will come back to that (...). Now we go a bit into the future, because what we haven't told the listeners here now, Gry, is that you got your first job and this is actually your second consultancy job. And when I ask you now, as a coach, you say “no, I'm not worried about losing my job”. So, could you help the listeners now? You were worried about quitting the job sitting in academia, but today you're not - what has happened to you?
Gry: I think, several things. [laughter] Well, (...) I think it's a hard journey, the first job transition in particular, but it's really empowering when you succeed. (...) I remember you saying to me, Tina, you said “Just trust the process!”, because I was of course really anxious and worried “Oh, it's not working, I'm not getting any interviews.”, whatever…,but you said “Trust the process!”. So I think one thing I did learn over time was that this process works, you will achieve success if you persist, and that was hugely confidence-building. And to sort of see that, by my own efforts and following a systematic process, I can get there, even if it's hard to persist with that. So yeah, that's very confidence-building and empowering. I think the other thing I learned was that “yes! I can do this new job!”. Again, it was difficult in the beginning, a lot of new things to learn…but hey, I'm good at learning, I can do a really good job. So, to gain some more confidence in my skills and abilities and adaptability, to be able to see I could move from being probably a bit sort of timid in the beginning, (...) [laughter] like “oh, sh-t, what am I doing here?” to realize, about a year in, you feel more confident, it’s not so mysterious after all the new job, you can learn it. It's not the case that everyone else knows much better than you how to do it and so on. You just learn and you see “oh! I'm a smart, capable person. I have a lot of other skills I didn't know I had”. In academia, you keep just doing the same things over and over, (...) you need to have new ideas and so on, but that's kind of one type of skill in a way, but to see that you have all these other skills you had no idea of…
Tina: Yeah, exactly you have grown as a person and I can hear between the lines a little bit that you're not afraid to fail in the same way, that you know “I can enter a new job I will not know everything and it's okay because I can learn it”.
Tina: Yeah, and you can express it differently. So, if we now go back a little bit again here, what made you succeed in nailing your first job? Because I know you struggled but you succeeded. What was it that made you succeed in the end?
Gry: Right. I can say first what sort of held me back in the beginning: I think I spent probably months just rewriting my CV. [laughter]
Tina: I got tired of you, actually! [laughter]
Gry: I was like “Oh, God”, I looked at so many different websites and advice, tweaking, minute tweaks to words, sentences, everything. And also yeah, tweaking my cover letter and things to like properly match it up against the job advertisement, so on and so on. I wasted a lot of time. I mean, some of the time was not wasted but a lot of the time I spent on it was wasted because like I just kept going over and over it. And the reason I wasted so much time, I think, was this exact thing you mentioned, Tina, it was about fear of failure. It's perfectionism, another thing unfortunately you learn in academia to be very perfectionist. And really that doesn't serve you well in this kind of situation. But yeah, I think I was simply afraid of failure and not having a perfect application when I sent it in
Tina: [laughter] There is no perfect application. But, if you now talk to the listeners here, what advice would you give them here in the podcast directly? If any one of you listeners now are sitting, rewriting your resume, rewriting, rewriting, what advice would you tell them?
Gry: My advice would be to just start applying for jobs. And just apply, also don't be so afraid about applying to the wrong job. This was another thing that I spent so much time researching in the beginning. (...) I mean, of course you need to do some work there, to think about who you are, what are your skills, what are your motivations, drives and triggers? You want to have broadly the right ballpark, but also you're just not going to know everything, (...) you're not going to know it. So don't be so afraid about, firstly, not having a perfect application and, secondly, even if (...) it's rare to end up in your dream job straight away, you will definitely - whatever job you end up in - you will definitely learn something new, new skills, you learn a lot about yourself. So, you know, it's a win anyway, and then you can actually change jobs again, which is what I did. So, looking back on things to know, is another really important lesson. In the beginning I was so worried about making a mistake, in lots of different ways and, you know, things have turned out okay, in the end. [laughter] What I want to emphasize is you need to just get churning out those job applications. It's a numbers game, and just keep churning them out. I set up a spreadsheet on your advice, with the job, the company, the job position, a link to the job advert or a copy of it, so I could refer back, and then I kept a little tracker of if I got any response back. And also, sometimes, the rejection is not a rejection. You might not hear back but suddenly… Actually, after I got my first job, I got several emails after I started the new job but suddenly some of the other companies got back to me. So, really don't worry so much about getting it right and churn out the applications to get as many out. Because there will be a number, you know, maybe one interview per ten, twenty, thirty applications, whatever the situation is where you live. I think it's comforting in a way to know that there's a kind of study-
Tina: There's a number game behind it, to a certain level. And what if I tell you that your resumé is okay, it's not your resumé that doesn't lead to an interview? In the end, it is actually a numbers game. And I remember that, because it was when you started to apply for jobs, you started to get interviews, that was when I noticed, as your coach, “Now something's going to happen here, on the way” because then, of course, it is about getting feedback from the interviews, but that's also a number game and a learning process behind it. So, listeners, listen carefully here: sitting stuck, fiddling around with your resume - that comes to a certain level, I say, when it's 75 to 80 percent okay, start working with it and keep track of the applications, that's a very good tip here. So, thank you for sharing that, Gry. But now (...), I also remember now, when you got your first job, you were extremely thrilled and now you had gone to many, many interviews. And I would like, before we talk about the first job, to talk about one of the first interviews you went to, because I remember you called me and you were not very happy after one of these interviews. (...) Would you like to share briefly what happened in one of these first interviews that really took you to your heart, and I remember you were very low at that moment?
Gry: Yes, yes, yes. So that actually (...) was an interview with the company I now work [at]. [laughter]
Tina: [laughter] Surprise! She's working there now.
Gry: Yes. So, I personally thought the interview went very badly. They asked me lots of questions I didn't know the answer to, basically. [laughter] Which is not what I expected, because I thought “Well, why are they asking me these questions? They know I don't have a consulting background, why are they asking these questions?”, and I had to just more or less try and make up some answers. And I guess (...) maybe a different person would not mind and would think “Oh, that went fine”, but for me to feel I was way out of my depth, to not know the answers, I guess it's maybe that perfectionism a bit again, as well, to feel you’re not in control. All of these things were very, very difficult for me at that time. I think especially because I had high hopes for the interview beforehand and I’d prepared a presentation and it took lots of time. So, yes, that was very hard. But I think it's an experience. I think if I had to apply for jobs again and had a similar experience now, I don't think it would matter so much to me. Yeah, I've learned those lessons that you don't know everything, it's okay not to know everything, and things will be okay in the end, it's fine. But yes, I think my ego was badly hurt by that.
Tina: Yeah, you were badly hurt, your ego was, because you put a lot of energy into that interview, because you’d so much like to work for IQVIA and you had huge PowerPoint presentations, super prepared. You had googled, and of course these expectations and then everything did go in the wrong direction, but I would like to remind our listeners here now that that was the interview for the company you work for now. So, now we go back - you went for that interview, I know you were very upset. But then you got a job after an interview in another consultancy company. Could you express how it was to start working there, in that company? How did you feel in the first, let's say, six months?
Gry: Yeah, it was both thrilling and exciting, but also nerve-wracking. I mean, I was very excited, it felt like I'd made the right decision about leaving, a lot of validation of (...) these ideas that I had about style of working, what you do day-to-day. I decided on consulting based on some self-reflection and work that we did together and I knew I wanted to work in a sort of teamwork, a lot of variety day-to-day, fast-paced environment. (...) I've learned about myself that I'm very purpose-driven, so it's really good for me to work towards tasks and deliverables. You're finishing something and you're sending it off to someone. Not like a research paper that maybe no one will, or very few people will read, it just kind of goes out there into the world, you don't know what happens to it. But yeah, here it's like deliverables and (...) the client will be happy or unhappy with it, or your supervisor will be checking. So, all of these things. I could see this was the right kind of environment for me, all of those things were working really well and gave me a lot of energy, so I felt just completely different in this work environment than I'd been feeling doing my academic job, which was so hard sometimes, I felt so bad about myself, I would feel really guilty and low because I was procrastinating a lot trying to write research papers. I thought “oh, I'm really lazy, I don't work hard”, but I've discovered, when I'm in a new environment, I'm extremely driven and I work really hard and I don't procrastinate much anymore, that problem is just gone by itself.
Tina: Yeah, you have a completely different work style now: you have goals, you have settings, sort of a driven world, you work in the corporate basically. That's result-driven and that fits your personality because you have a lot of grit, so that is of course part of your nature. So thank you for sharing that. But I also know that, after a while in that consultancy company, you started to get a little bit bored. What happened there?
Gry: Well, yes, let me also add first the other thing about the experience of starting in the new job. I was again very afraid of making mistakes. So, it was exciting but also nerve-wracking because I often didn't know what to do and I thought everyone else knew a lot better than me and I was a bit timid, like I said. So that was the other side of it. Now starting this new job I felt much more confident even if I didn't know what to do, it just didn't matter so much anymore, and you kind of just charge on and try something and then, if it's wrong, people will tell you and that's that. But yeah, you're right, after about maybe six,seven months I realized I was getting bored in that job. Yeah, I mean, consulting is a lot of different things and that type of consulting we were doing wasn't such a great fit for my skill set. So, I needed a bit more in-depth engagement and sort of more (...) intellectual engagement than what I had in that role. And my academic background is, you know, I do have a lot of knowledge and expertise, which I didn't see a way that could be used in my previous company. So I felt like it was going to be very hard for me to progress in that career. It was going to take a long time. So, with my new job, it's much more focused on the science, actually in my team we run research studies, so I get to use my scientific knowledge and mindset analytic skills much more, and I feel like my background, expertise in health inequality is really valuable in this team and so I feel like “Okay, I'm on a good path here”. And I see a lot of opportunities for doing a wider range of work and work that's more interesting to me. Yeah, and these are things I couldn't have known beforehand. You know, the previous job, I mean, how could I ever know that I was going to get bored after a while? I couldn't know that. But (...) that's the kind of risk you have to take when you make this transition and so, just to build on what I was saying earlier, don't make the mistake that you think you can know everything beforehand. I think that's what I wanted, I didn't want any uncertainty.
Tina: [laughter] Yeah, you didn't want any uncertainty that you're taking the wrong job. But the thing is, the first consultancy job was not wrong: it was perfect maybe for you, because in that first job is the foundation for the job you have today.
Gry: Yes, yeah.
Tina: Because what did you learn in the first job that made a difference both in the interview situation and the onboarding in this job? What would you say?
Gry: Oh yeah, I learned lots of things. I learned about the corporate work environment and I learned a lot about sort of (...) client engagement and how you run client meetings, which in the beginning was a bit nerve-wracking. And you learn this kind of teamwork, you learn more about project management in the sort of corporate style, quite different to project management in academia. So, you learn all of those things and I think you learn to speak better to your skills and abilities. Based on that work experience, you can have a different kind of conversation in your next interview about how you fit in and what you can bring. So yeah, that experience is super valuable.
Tina: Yeah, it makes it easier for you. And you are not the first client that I have that sort of got a first job and then they move on. And I always promote them, I say “you know, stay for two, three years and then see what happens”. In your case, it was a little bit shorter, but now you ended up in IQVIA, the company you actually wanted to work inside.
Gry: [laughter] Yeah. (...)
Tina: Yeah, (...) go back 2 years and if I told you that this is what's going to happen, you wouldn't have believed me, I'm quite sure.
Gry: [laughter] No, no no.
Tina: But we are coming to the end of the podcast here, we have been talking for almost half an hour and I would like to go where you are right here and now. How would you say, in what sort of way have you grown as a person on this journey or in this journey?
Gry: Ah, yeah, that's a really great question and it's something I've thought about quite a lot, because, in this whole journey, I've had to challenge myself a lot in a lot of ways I never had before. I would say in the academic environment you don't really you never push to think about your own personality or how you work with others, for example. I think changing careers like the way I've done has given a huge amount of opportunity for personal growth and personal development in terms of, yes, reflecting on your behaviors, which is sometimes hard to do because it's kind of the air that you breathe, you are the person that you are. But now, because of making this career change, I could see my behavior, I could actually see my own behavior and ways of working with others in a way that was completely invisible to me before. So, yeah, one example I'd say would be, if you're in academia, you’re used to working alone a lot and (...) you’re trusted and typically don't tell other people what you're up to. And especially in my first job, my manager had to chase me all the time - if you're working on a project, “Have you done this thing? Have you done that thing? When is this thing gonna [be done]?” and I was like “Well, I've done all of those things” but I hadn't told anyone about it because that was completely new to me, that you had to tell people and keep your team informed. But that kind of thing about a different kind of communication skill. I was never aware of this before and now I can.
Tina: Now you can see that! [laughter]
Tina: And, I’d like to put it in here, this is what you say in the corporate “communication skills”. And this is where people from academia say I am excellent in communication. And (...), Gry, you understand that, the level of communicating what you say, it is actually the feedbacking, following up and informing team and managers, taking an initiative. This is part of what you're not training to do in academia, we work too independently
Gry: Yeah, so that was one thing that really stood out to me and I think another thing is, when you work with other people, much more closely like you do in consulting, you then realize things that stress you out or, you know, things that I get irritated or frustrated by, like when when I get lots of reviews back on my work. That was difficult for me in the beginning. And I think this is because I took it personally in the beginning, I was like “Oh, I'm not doing a good job”, this was really difficult for me to take… [laughter[
Tina: [laughter] To take the feedback, yeah.
Gry: So I had to work really hard on that to sort of see it more as…just me as a small part in a bigger whole. It's about the end product and what's delivered to the client, and everyone does their bit and whoever's more senior will review. But it's a quality control process, that's all. And I used to, if someone told me “Oh this needs to be in a different way”, I'd want to explain, always, like “Well, but I thought it was like this, because…”, but no one has time for that! [laughter]
Tina: [laughter] Yeah, and I remember we talked about that, because you came back to me about that and I said “It's not about you, this is a quality control process. You don't have to argue, don't argue about the corrections. It's just, you know, part of the process again.” So, I'm happy that you said that again, because you also trained in academia that (...) feedback is not always positively taken, we take it as criticism. And, that’s a big distinction from the corporate to academia. But what I hear is that now you can take quality control, you don't take it personally when they have opinions about the work any longer.
Gry: Yeah, no, no, exactly. That's getting a lot easier. And another thing I want to mention is - it also took me a long time to kind of understand - but it's about being proactive and taking initiative. And I think in academia I'm used to there being a lot of rules and following the rules, and you kind of work on autopilot a bit almost, whereas in industry and consulting,it’s really appreciated that you're really proactive. Even if no one's told you to do something, you reach out and you set things up, because, again, it's about relieving pressure on those most senior who are the sort of end accountable people. They're very busy, they have a lot of demands on their time. So, even if they haven't told you to do this or that task, you can go, at least certain things you can go and do them, and tell them you've done them and that will sort of give them more headspace. And for me that was very difficult in the beginning, I think I'm getting a bit better at doing it now, because I was like “Well, I'm so used to there being rules and ways of doing things…”, I was like “Well, if no one told you to do it, can I really do it?” [laughter]
Tina: [laughter] Sure, it’s part of the failure, being afraid to do the wrong thing here.
Gry: Yeah, it's exactly! But it's part of what they call “leadership behavior” in the corporate world. And, yeah, again, it's been very interesting to reflect on that before I would have thought “yes, you know, I'm very autonomous, and work hard, and driven” and so on, but actually I was really afraid to take these kinds of initiatives. I discovered I was a bit passive, I got that feedback in my first job, I was a bit passive. So, that's not how I saw myself, but I realized “Oh. No, there's something at work here”, so that thing, that fear of failure and so that was something to overcome. And I think if I'd stayed in academia I wouldn't even have been aware that this was a thing. I wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn this new behavior, basically.
Tina: It would have been even harder. So the trick is that, the longer you stay in academia, you actually adopt that sort of more passive behavior. It is a sort of passive behavior because you can’t use the same strategy in the corporate world, it doesn't work. And it's interesting, you say it's not only initiative, it's part of leadership - self-leadership and leadership. So leadership doesn't necessarily have to be that you manage people, it is to lead your own project and lead inside the company. And that's part of being efficient in communication as you also express here: communicating and taking feedback in a quality process without taking it personally are key factors to be attractive in the corporate world. And I think, with these things here, Gry, because I know you have grown in that, you are, as a person, a different person today than two years ago when I met you the first time. And I know you're just at the beginning of your journey! But that maybe could be another podcast, Gry, because we are coming to a time limit here of almost 40 minutes, and I would like to give you the opportunity to share with the listeners (...), would you like to share a bit of your dream, (...) where you would like to be? Because, as I said, this is just the beginning of your journey and I know you had dreams. So, would you like to elaborate about your dream into the future, where you would like to be?
Gry: Yes, I do have some ideas about that. I think this thing I've discovered about myself, that I sometimes can be a bit timid or also have some hesitation about initiating things, taking initiative, that is something I'd really like to overcome (...), that is where I'd like to be. So, be able to do something a bit pioneering or innovative. It doesn't have to be a big thing but just something I could achieve that wasn't there, a task, a project that wasn't there to start with, but something, an idea that I came up with and planned it, mapped out how to do it, what to do, just going into the unknown basically and setting something up without knowing where it was going to end and how it was going to succeed, and sort of see it through to the end. That, for me, would be a huge accomplishment, to be able to do that kind of a bit more entrepreneurial behavior and achievement, it’s something I'd love to be able to do, so I’ll be working towards that over time.
Tina: [laughter] Yeah, initiative is a key factor in entrepreneurial mindset, you know?
Gry: Yes, yes! But yeah, it’s exactly this thing where you don't know, there's no recipe or a path or some rules that tell you. You have to step into the unknown to do it, which I know I have a bit of a fear of, so that's something I'd love to do. And then I think a more general thing is I’d love to keep developing my leadership potential and abilities. Yeah, so, to kind of think of something else…Yeah, I think working the leadership qualities, I think this, for me, it's about just working with people. So, that's something I think I can be good at and I'd really like to build on that, and just working with people is the thing I really enjoy the most. And to be able to maybe motivate and get others to succeed, I think that's the type of role I'd really like to be able [to do]. But I think that's a bit more senior, so I'd have to kind of work in my career and progress to get to that level where I can be able to do that more.
Tina: And now, when you listen to yourself, you know also why you got a little bit demotivated in academia: it wasn't only the writing articles, it was too [few] people, most likely, around you. But we’re coming to an end and I would like to ask you just one simple little question here now. - Thank you, Gry, it's absolutely a pleasure discussing with you - And now, dear listeners, here I want to ask Gry the last question: what would you say, if you would just give a tip to someone listening to your podcast sitting, thinking “I really would like to do what Gry has done!”, what would you tell that person?
Gry: I would say: Talk to people, reach out to people, friends, family, strangers, people you come across on LinkedIn. We didn't get a chance to talk about that one on this episode of the podcast, but networking and talking to people has been extremely important in my process, as well, and you can learn so much from doing that. And, if you like talking to people, it's really fun! That was the most enjoyable part. So that was one thing. The other thing is: don't be afraid to fail, don't be so worried about where you're going to end up the first time around. It's a journey and you learn a lot from doing it and from having the first job, whatever it will be, you will learn a lot about yourself and some new skills. The third thing? I’d say, in this whole process it can be tough, so I’d say give yourself time to do things you enjoy, so that it doesn't take over your entire life to do this sort of job search. Because it's tough, it's hard, so you need some kind of moments of life.
Tina: Yeah, yeah, you need a moment for yourself and a bit alone, (...) exercise. And I know you do military training and bicycling, that's maybe also for another podcast. But listen to Gry: Spare time activities are really important in the job searching process. So, thank you a lot, Gry! It's been an absolute pleasure to have you on the podcast, I’m quite sure you are coming back to the podcast maybe for a “Tips and Tricks” sort of episode. But, with that said, dear listeners and watchers, here I say thank you for following us, PhD Career Stories. You’ll find much more about us on our web page. You can send mail to us, we are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And if you know anyone with a fantastic story, don't hesitate to reach out to us. So, with that said, have a great week ahead and take care of [yourself]. This was Tina from PhD Career Stories.
Gry: Thank you so much, Tina! It's been a great pleasure to be here.
Tina: Thank you.
Gry: Thank you.