Inside Knowledge If you are commercially minded and like to see up close the real-world impact from your research, then moving into industry might be the path for you.
Former Syngenta-funded PhD student Joe Moughan left Rothamsted after four years to take a role with One Acre Fund, a social enterprise that delivers agricultural inputs on credit and training to farmers in developing countries.
Now promoted to Seed Partnerships Senior Associate, Joe started a large-scale commercial seed production operation with the Rwandan government and a commercial seed company from Kenya.
“In our first season we produced 420 tonnes of hybrid maize seed which will be sold into the Rwanda One Acre Fund program. Hybrid maize provides up to 30% yield increase from farmer saved, open pollinated seed and so is a large driver of transforming the lives of farmers on the program. It is so rewarding to see the impact of my work on the lives of these communities.”
Dr Joe Maughan
Joe’s experience demonstrates the key benefits of industry collaborations if you are looking to secure a position in a company:
1) Understand how science can be used to support the development of new products and services
Seeing the commercial end game of his PhD research, through the delivery mechanism of Syngenta was not only inspirational but also very educational for Joe.
“For science to be truly successful in reaching many people and changing the status quo it must have some commercial relevance in the long run. My collaboration with Syngenta during my PhD enabled me to develop this mindset and understand how the latest developments in science can be harnessed to inform and improve practice. This training truly helped whilst beginning a start up in the African seed sector.”
2) Working with industry hones transferable skills
Doing a PhD at the intersection of public and private sector research helped Joe refine the communication and knowledge exchange skills required to become a successful stakeholder manager.
“These skills have enabled me to be successful at leading a complex three-way partnership between a social enterprise, a government lead organisation, and a private seed company. Each company has different management and operating structures – however, they all work towards a common and uniting goal – sustainable seed production for the people of Rwanda.”
The Insider says: “Moving to industry allowed Joe to get up close and personal with the impact of his research and he obviously loves it.”
Want to learn more about the topic? Get in touch with our insider.