A colleague/collaborator and I were conversing about
mentoring and mentoring programs. She was telling me
about the struggles when discussing what is important,
who should be targeted and what would a successful program
She brought up the finding that different parts of an organization,
like marketing, finance, medical affairs (medical device mfg),
and R&D views mentoring differently.
Some parts think of the role as helping new members come up
to speed with the culture because turn over is high. Another
part of the company has very low turnover, flat organizational
structure and intense detailed work. (You almost have to have
a retirement party to induce a change.)
Thus, mentoring in specific companies can assume a company
cultural bias to meet the needs at a particular point in time or
departments that it serves.
So the roles of teacher, coach, mentor and sponsor can be
adjusted. Mentoring graduate students in technical fields
needs to adjust to each field in the same view. The skill sets
can be used to meet different goals since in each field of
research, development, marketing, management, product
development and manufacturing uses the technical elements
with different goals. The emphasis is morphed to meet the needs.
She also share an interesting link to the different roles.
KAHNEMAN: IMPROVING DECISION MAKING
This brought to mind a recent book by John Lanchester
who spoke about how Kahneman influenced the interview
process in selecting military candidates (without going into
He did experiments on selection processes where
critical skills and abilities were defined, questions were
prepared by knowledgeable stakeholders for a pool of
[JOHN LANCHESTER How to speak money: What the
money people say—and what it really
means, Norton & Company,
New York 2014]
He then had a random portion of the group take objective
measure tests before interviewing.
Better selections were made when the intuition of
interviewers were supplemented by independent testing
So, in various places this additional testing is being done.
Lanchester also presented remarkable meanings of
business terms which technical people might find useful.
failing upwards: someone who screws up and is promoted
to a bigger job just as the first result collapses
fiscal and monetary: fiscal means dealing with taxes and
spending, controlled by government; monetary means
dealing with interest rates, controlled by the central bank.
“a haircut:“ in investment bonds, people who have lent money
are not going to get all of their money back.
“hollowing out:” process by which jobs disappear from the
economy while appearances remain the same.
At its peak, Kodak employed 140,000 and valued at $28B.
Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1B in 2012 and employed
“hype cycle:” process involving new inventions, technology
or product design arrives with much fanfare and is found not
to live up to its claims.
McJobs: low status, low-pay, low-security, low-prospect
jobs like at a franchise as McDonalds.
Types of unemployment: frictional, structural and cyclical
frictional: people move, voluntarily choose to change
structural: loss of jobs due to technological change or
obsolescence (chemical photography)
cyclical: loss of jobs due to boom and bust cycles of
the economical system
When we compose a cover letter or an introductory letter
to people in technical fields it is common to say that
in the first paragraph the reader needs to be “hooked”
and then “reeled in” to use the fishing analogy.
Both the analogy and terminology is common in
the marketing world. We are more and more aware of
the marketing gambit with all the technology we all
use. The first link provides an inside look into the
way marketers look at the “hook” from the perspective
of taking advantage of our habits.
There is a lot to learn from critical terms as they are
used in other career fields, like medical fields or business
fields. We don’t always get exposed to or attend sessions
with those groups of people. The second link points to
networking. Here, however, it is the comments to the
linked article that provide benefit in revealing that effective
networking is not just schmoozing or shameless pursuit
of the powerful or soon to be powerful, it needs to
be committed to helping.
HOOKED– USING HABITS TO GET YOUR MARKETING
SOURCE: T. Greenwald, Wired 23.01, Under the Influence
This piece adds a block to Charles Duhigg’s Habit flow
chart. It is the “investment” block where he states this
provides an element of a person’s choosing that results
in the next trigger .
The Wired article’s author provides 21st century
examples for behaviors marketers seek to induce
The comments to the article are sometimes biting, just
revealing that some feel there is more to it than what
Nonetheless, this article points out the use of a
psychological concept in a different field.
The article gives the effect of a similar behavior of
trying to obtain, invite or get to accept as many
Linkedin members to be part of your network. It
is not going to be effective to just add “names” who
you have not made a connection as a number of the
comments to the Schumpeter article indicate. There
has to be “something substantial” to one’s approach.
We suggest that it be “committed networking” where
you honestly seek out things for the benefit of others
and make a commitment. Your network members do
the same for you, especially when you need or ask
for the assistance.
BONUS: MERGER POSSIBILITY AND THE INFLUENCE
OF DIVERGENT CORPORATE CULTURES
SOURCE: Economist, 1-17-15, p. 59
“Blood in the Water”
This could be a lesson on the importance of legal
entanglements and clash of corporate cultures
in the merger of two large firms.
The premise is that the dropping oil price may
bring about the demise of BP as an independent
firm. Several suitors are mentioned, but each
possible large company presents major changes
in management and organizational behaviors.
This is a lesson for all professionals to observe
how cultural and legal issues can influence
Several years ago, my boss shared with me that new owners
would agree to a purchase, if he and I were to remain with
the company. It had to do with understanding significantly
valuable to a new owner and what they planned to do. This
kind of arrangement is not uncommon in technology companies
that may be involved in merger and acquisition activity.
(Note all the activity in Pharma.) Al Sklover’s recent
excellent guidance on what to look for and what to seek
is heady information in the first item.
We did not receive nor ask for a retention bonus.
A second article gave insight on the financial side of
our careers relating to some financial indices that
signal good habits. There is some debate about adding
different ones than the 15 given in the linked article.
Nonetheless a couple were quite meaningful for me.
Google is diving into the biomedical device arena
starting with contact lenses by partnering with Novartis
(-Alcon) and other technologies to solve the world’s
problems. Andrew Conrad spoke about this on WSJ.com
and is highlighted in various business magazines.
RETENTION BONUS CONSIDERATIONS AND INSIGHT
SOURCE: A. Sklover, Sklover’s working wisdom, 1-6-15
“Responding to a Retention Bonus Offer“
The retention bonus is a good faith business agreement, thus
will be offered with a formally drawn contract that is legally
binding when finalized. Al points out the usual meanings, traps
and details that can be considered for negotiation.
There are certain terms to look out for and exclude, actively
employed and sole discretion, and better phrases that
represent your position better. There is also an opportunity
to negotiate, he points out, but beware with a legal counsel
on your side.
This is another excellent, point-by-point discussion on legal
matters in lucid language.
DECISIONS: BUY OR RENT, RMD STRATEGIES, MUTUAL
SOURCE: A. Prior, WSJ 1-3-15, p, B1
“The numbers you need to know.”
We are in the process of considering downsizing and wonder
where to move and do we rent or buy. This article listed the
price to rent ratio. In a high, scarce rent area, it is better to
buy and in a cheap and plentiful rent area, it is better to rent.
Market assessment by other words, I suppose.
It also offered a strategy for required minimum distributions
RMD [for when we reach 70 1/2] when little else exists.
If you have enough income without RMD, then ask your
sponsor to hold off payment until the 4th quarter and
request enough to cover both state and federal taxes
as well as quarterly estimated taxes. This allows you to keep
the money in the tax shelter for most of the year.
Should have thought of that!
How much is your estate tax exemption (differs in each state),
mutual fund expenses (keep <1.0%), home insurance coverage
(replacement cost), debt service and rate, AGI levels, fixed,
recurring and discretionary expenses? Seems like a good
checklist, even if only a couple apply to you now.
GOOGLE BIOMEDICAL VENTURES
SOURCE: L. Friedman, Business Insider 11-3-14
“Here’s what experts really think about Google’s plan to
find cancer sooner“
I viewed an interview on WSJ Live and dug a little into
creating devices with nanoparticles made from iron oxide
to monitor what is happening in our bodies to get both
early detection and continuous monitoring of proteins,
enzymes and biologically relevant signal molecules.
Here is a scientist speaking to business people and
marketers who understands the different modes of
thinking. For marketers good outcomes in
experiments point to successes; for scientists,
experiments disprove hypotheses. He also “paints
a memorable word picture” in a story about what
motivates the work and Google.
The topic is unusual, the speaker fluent and this
reveals a new technological direction for the future.
In today’s competitive and uncertain, virtual and interactive,
career and job-assignment marketplace, technical resumes
are only one part of your public relations portfolio.
INTERNET PRESENCE: LINKEDIN PROFILE
Any consultant or reviewer who examines and critiques
only one document is shortsighted and not necessarily
offering you up-to-date advice. Why? We are approaching,
if we have not already reached, a ‘virtual presence’ world.
Your presence (or absence from) in the Internet is larger
and may be more critical for you achieving your goal of
interacting with company representatives. You have to
pay strong attention to addressing this market place.
The profile can be targeted differently than your specific
resume file that you send to each individual company.
Lindsey Pollack and Arnie Fertig highlight many
features of resumes vs. profiles and Linkedin’s mission.
In addition, it can be valuable to have a master resume
that you maintain throughout your career. It contains
all your personal information from which you
choose items to include in targeted resumes and
Organization, ease of reading, use of significant-in-
your-field keywords and ethical behaviors are important.
(Resumes also: brevity, specificity and clarity)
CONTENT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ROLES
I respect Tom Kellum who reported that resumes
“rule people out.’ In the business side of the enterprise.
the hiring authority seeks a person who can help her
reach her goals faster. The resume, he points out, reveals
the past and not the “intangible futures.” On the technical
side of the enterprise, describing our accomplishments
reveals our Key Skills and Abilities KSA which can be
applied to solve problems and innovate.
So, not only are there differences in hard copy and
virtual documents, each of which is searchable, but
also different roles will represent us with different
styles of content.
Due to this, there are sometimes “grey areas” in the
ways things are described. In addition, some people
might misrepresent titles, dates, areas of responsibility,
accomplishments and other details to make
themselves appear more attractive. Comments in
various places point out there is little or no checking,
in the virtual world. [This is a potential downside.
Rest assured, however, most significant, untrue content is
eventually discovered and there are serious con-
The grey areas extend to the ATS Applicant tracking system
software tools that review and find our profile or resume.
ATS output from our resumes can be erroneous as well.
It is a computer output without human intervention.
Public relations documents are an inexact science that
we have to work through to manage our careers.
- master resume should be comprehensive and correct
- Linkedin profile should be complete and regularly
updated [if project based or entrepreneurial, consider
a web-page as well]
- targeted resumes, technical or business focused
- each item should be keyword rich
- follow ACS integrity guidelines.
Reminder: Don Straits indicates the resume file contains
cover letter, resume, list of publications, patents and
presentations, specialized addenda (like research
summary, industry summary, patent review, management
philosophy, etc.) and list of references.
An amazing discovery of the creation of an element with oxidation
state +9 was reported in October. Iridium +9 was characterized with
photodissociation spectroscopy. There are many possible implications
for this first +9 oxidation state element, which seems rarer than a
new element in the periodic table.
Ever-tightening budgets, combined with increasing costs, longer
tenures of graduate and post-graduate studies and a trend of
1,000 to 2,000 per year increase grant proposals (NSF) is creating
a challenge for proposers, reviewers and grant administrators.
The process of proposal reviews which all constituencies should be
well informed is undergoing both stresses and new evaluation.
While lithium batteries and lithium ion electrochemical systems
are common in many devices, avenues of research into
their components has focused on anodes, cathodes and
side reactions. New work was recently reported on the solvation
structure of liquid electrolytes.
There is quite some speculation of what this might lead to
in catalysis, structure, composition and dynamics.
PEER REVIEW: CHALLENGE OF TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC
MERIT BY ECONOMIC AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
SOURCES: A. Widener, C&EN 11-24-14, p. 21,
ACS Peer Review Statement
The author describes the details of the grant proposal selection
process and infers that it is more “administratively” managed.
Pilot tests of virtual, applicant review, scaled back proposals,
and wording bias elimination schemes are brought out.
There are biases and preferences in all decision-making
processes. Challenges to pure technical review by fiduciary
and financial impacts makes every stakeholder drawn to the
Every review process is very hard and demanding and
when faced with a broader spectrum of factors, most
people are not always well equipped to providing input.
The ACS has a policy statement about peer review to keep it
technical -merit-based. This area needs every person in the
scientific community to weigh seriously.
LITHIUM SOLUTION COORDINATION 4.5
SOURCE: L. Yaris, …Better electrolyte for lithium batteries
Lithium BF4 was studied in the Berkeley light source and
Li + found to exist in solution with a higher, fractional coordination
number than previously believed.
This may lead to studies and discoveries for commercial
Did you observe the oxymoron headline on scientist employment
in C&EN 12-22-14, p.11 Temporary Turmoil? It got me to
looking deeper to find out more– differences between fields,
differences between locations, where is the data and what does
it really mean…See Critical thinking questions we should
apply when reading reports.
Are you currently in a position and wonder how to move
to another position? An interesting link is shared giving
the trend in “prized ponies,” in job market terminology,
those who are passive candidates, already working but
“shackled” into their current position.
Many scientific and engineering societies are finding
that subscription-based publication of findings and applications
are not meeting their core mission. Open access has the
potential of distributing more evenly (without bias) and widely
advances that are the output of scientific and engineering
One of the leading objections in the publication world
dominated by large societies and publishing houses is the
curious use of “impact factor” for whole journals for
career advancement purposes.
SOURCES J. Wright, Forbes 5-28-2013
“Influence of international graduates on STEM worker
shortage” ,and following articles
J. Weismann, Slate 7-10-14 “The stagnating job market for
young scientists“; Simply hired trends
Since the graphic made little sense in the above mentioned
magazine, it seemed like a good starting point to ask some
questions. Wright indicates 40% of 25,000 PhDs are
granted to international graduates. 30% obtain positions
in the US on temporary work visas.
Some areas and fields have gained openings, Wright cites.
Weismann examines trends in separate STEM fields in
a helpful manner. His conclusions, stated by quoting
other writers, may be debated.
ONLINE MARKETING FOR NEXT POSITION
SOURCE: Rachel Silverman, WSJ 1-2-15, p. B1
“New Year, New Job? Read this first“
The Economist, 1-3-15 p. 17
“There’s an App for that“
Silverman’s article hints at how companies are competing
for talented professionals. Cost-cutting seems to be
edging out retention and engagement and, rather than
giving pay increases, bonuses are offered. She puts forward
findings that new online services like online dating models
now exist– Poacht, Switch, Poachable are seen for
hard to fill and engineering positions.
A related piece by Lindsey Gellman “Show me your
Stuff” reveals that corporations are hiring using simulations
and assessment tools to reveal decision making ability and
The final lines in the piece: leave three positives
with the hiring entity.
Finally striking a similar cord to what has been brought
to your attention is the breaking up of tasks into different
skill level parts and having temporary staff handle less
impactful portions and outsourcing. The Economist
article highlights this that seems to be a continuation
PITCH: OPEN ACCESS
SOURCE ECS Interface Winter 2014. p. 31
Trends: erosion of subscription revenue and subscribers
competition from commercial publishers that game
the impact factor system and impose deals to library
collections, reduced library budgets, consolidation
in the publishing industry, and increasing number of
The article hits a number of important long term
issues that our society could do better opening a