Breaking into Life Science Consulting

Rank: Chimp | 9

Hi All!

I've seen a lot of posts about people transitioning from a PhD into life science consulting, but none regarding people who want/who have jumped ship with just a Master's Degree. I have a Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering and have been working at a startup biomedical company for over 2 years and am ready to jump ship ASAP. My question (to anyone out there willing to help a chimp out) is the following:
How do you compensate for a lack of consulting experience? I see a lot of entry level positions in firms requiring some level of prior consulting experience...


Comments (18)


When you say life science consulting do you mean to work in the financial industry or the pharma one?

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I was referring to the financial aspects of the life science consulting as opposed to laboratory activities such as cycle development/ optimiziation.


Not sure if you have any geographical preference but there's a boutique strategy consulting firm in North Carolina called Triangle Insights Group that specializes in the biotech sector and really likes recruiting people with bio background.


Thanks! I;ll definitely look into them. Would you have to know of any such firms in the NYC/ Greater New York area?


On the point of MS in life sciences, it depends on the firm, but there is still an entry point. It may be at a different level, where you are coming in with, or a bit ahead, of undergrad hires vs through a post-graduate channel. For that route, consulting experience should not be necessary. You do want to look at the specific path for an MS hire - ideally you can keep moving up internally without an expected leave/come-back for a MBA along the way.

As far as firms go, you can get a lot of the names and website data from sites like vault. As a list in no particular order other than perhaps scale:

IMS, ZS, InventivHealth, Parexel (incl. former Health Advances), Quintiles, LEK, Navigant (incl. former Leerink-Swann), Huron (incl. former Frenkel Group), Putnam Associates, Clearview, Clarion, Back Bay Science Advisors, SKP, Pricespective.

My apologies to anyone I left out! Waiting for morning coffee to kick in ...


Thanks a ton! I found that particularly helpful and reassuring.


Any idea how to break through as a former clinical doctor with published research experience and some transferrable skills?


Why consulting? Why now? You'll want to make sure you have an answer to those questions because, regardless of where you end up applying to, that question is going to come up from your interviewers. Make sure that you can position your current experiences in a way that you can paint that picture for them.

I think your best bet at this point is to focus your efforts on life sciences boutiques. A few that come to mind:
-Health Advances
-Trinity Partners
-ClearView Healthcare Partners
-Putnam Associates
-Decision Resources Group

Another potential play is to look at places like The Advisory Board Company, which take tons of folks with your background for their strategic research arm (not pure-play consulting, but could be a way to get your foot in the door).

Either way, I would start networking with alums, former classmates, etc. to get intros. In addition, you'll want to start prepping for case interviews (get a copy of Case In Point) as pretty much all of the above firms will have you complete a few.


Start to network as soon as possible and consider doing an internship before you are done. Not only will it look good on your resume/position you well for recruiting, but it will also allow you to see whether consulting is as good a fit as you think.


Thanks for your response! I am trying my best with that. Networking using LinkedIn can be one of the tools , I am trying to send in Personalised messages to people in different levels asking them for their guidance and openings ( I am of course willing to work without pay- I guess it makes me look quite desperate) but the response has not been so good so far.
Do you think this courses I have beentaking to stand out in the profile will do any good or should I devote to full time networking?


If you look around on WSO there are really good threads about networking techniques, etc. Regarding the pay issue, I would not mention being ready to work for free. If you're a sophomore, sure, but as a PhD student you should be able to do valuable work.


If you can get TS/SCI apply for government consulting firms.


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