Nicole Hou

Be able to truly recognize the values of the training in graduate studies: your soft skills.
Kelly Services (Canada) Ltd.
Business Development Representative (Scientific)
Guangzhou, China
Vancouver, Canada
In vivo activation of the endoplasmic reticulum unfolded protein response without disturbed proteostasis
Stefan Taubert

Where and what is your current position?

As a Business Development Representative with Kelly Services, I:

  • Prospect, establish, and maintain new business relationships with various life science companies and organizations
  • Establish networks with life science talents within BC and Canada
  • Conduct staffing consultations for both hiring companies and candidates

How does this job relate to your graduate degree?

Understanding the various roles and related experience in life science academia and industry is the number one crucial requirement for this job. My previous experience in life science research and biotech business development/sales provide me with perspectives of what roles, what responsibilities, and what requirements are needed for various career options within the life science sector.

The ability to learn fast, trouble-shoot, and solve problems makes me independent and action-oriented – this is important for business development roles.

Networks established previously through graduate schools and local life science community are what I currently contribute to my company.

What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?

My interest and passion in biological sciences.

What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?

The freedom to learn and utilize resources, to design and develop projects, and to present to various audiences.

What are key things you did that contributed to your success?

Being open-minded.

Knowing that your passion and contribution to science (or any particular professional fields) are restricted within what you have been doing.

Being able to truly recognize the values of the training in graduate studies: your soft skills.

What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?

Stay open-minded, and make yourself rounded. A graduate degree, especially when you commit to a PhD, is highly specific and therefore tends to narrow down your views. Understand that the most important thing you get from you your graduate education and training is the entire process, not just the end results. This way, you will learn and value lots of the experiences that many others won't have. Most importantly, recognize the soft and transferable skill sets you gain going through this process (regardless of whether you have a paper published). Understand and establish a good relationship with your supervisor/manager (and this varies among individuals). Apply to every single job.

What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?

During my graduate study, the biggest challenge was at the beginning, where I spent a lot of effort understanding how to start, develop, terminate, and adjust a project to bring it to success. The second challenge was to build a good and productive relationship with my supervisor.

Overcoming these challenges is what makes the next steps all much easier and smoother. Learning to identify, plan, and execute a project with given resources – all business runs in essentially the same way. 

What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?

I like the freedom and space I have for my current job, which allows me to think creatively, and execute/implement my action goals to reach my targets. Establishing a solid relationship with various biotech organizations is currently the biggest challenge.