Joel Outten, PhD
Program @ Penn: Bioengineering
Describe your current position and firm/organization and the career path you took to get there.
I am a consultant with ClearView Healthcare Partners, a boutique life science strategy consulting firm based in the Boston area. As a firm, we provide strategic guidance to industries within the life science arena, which includes pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device companies. We perform an extremely wide range of assessments, most of which guide decisions during product development. Some of our projects are much more clinically or scientifically focused, for instance providing guidance on clinical trial design or mechanism of action assessment. Other projects are more focused on corporate direction, such as merger and acquisition analyses or assessing entry into a new therapeutic area.Although I greatly enjoy science, I was always interested in a wide variety of academic pursuits and activities. During my PhD tenure at Penn, I exposed myself to as many academic and non-academic career options as possible. I learned about consulting fairly early on from friends and through the Penn Biotech Group, although I had no idea what I would eventually do after graduation. As I progressed through my PhD, I grew fascinated with the process of actually getting therapies to the clinic. I began leaning more towards a non-academic career path in order to gain a broader perspective on how all of this actually happens. Towards the end of my time in grad school, I began looking more closely at consulting. The consulting application process is fairly brutal, so I talked with and applied to a wide variety of firms since I figured my odds of getting an offer where slim. Throughout the process, I learned more about boutique life science consulting. I loved the idea of focusing on life science and healthcare, and the idea of a smaller, more start-up-esque type of firm greatly appealed to me. I met ClearView at the Penn Life Science Career Fair and it felt like a great fit. I was somehow able to eventually convince them to give me an offer, and I've been with ClearView since graduation.
What skills and strengths did your graduate training provide you that make you a good fit for your current position?
ClearView specifically looks for people with a life science background, especially PhDs, so that was key. Our projects often force you to become an expert in a new disease area in a matter of days, so having a broad base knowledge in the biosciences is crucial. In all seriousness, I dive into a lot of areas now that I can immediately understand because of Cell 600 over in CAMB. In terms of day-to-day work, consulting is often so nebulous that it's difficult to define exact skills. Most of what we do is ambiguous problem solving. PhD research tends to force you to approach a potentially ambiguous question, and develop a structured, rigorous approach to developing an answer. That's a lot of what I do now. Penn, as I appreciate more now after seeing other schools, is also an amazing place to seek out courses and organizations that provide exposure to broader areas of the biotech industry. My experience from Penn Biotech Group, RegBlog, Wharton and Engineering Entrepreneurship classes, and the Penn Graduate Consulting Group have been extremely helpful during my time here at ClearView.
|If other PhD students wanted to get a position similar to yours, what three specific pieces of advice would you offer them that they can be doing now while still at Penn?|
Expose yourself to a broad range of activities and organizations related to the biotech industry while at Penn – obviously including consulting.
Start the application process early – case preparation is no joke.Get accomplishments under your belt and show that you are productive.
Top advice for this career field
How can students at Penn find out more about your career field?
Penn Biotech Group, Penn Graduate Consulting Group, career fairs, information sessions at Penn, company websites, and networking.
Find out moreParticipate in PBG, PGCG, and attend info sessions and career fairs
|What do you most enjoy about your current position, and what are you looking forward to doing at work over the next week or two?|
|I love having the opportunity to become an expert in a totally new therapeutic area with every project. I greatly enjoy solving problems in order to bring new therapies to market. It's very rewarding to play a part in the extremely complicated process of drug development and commercialization. I also love the culture and atmosphere at ClearView. It's a young, smart, highly motivated, and fun group of people. In a few weeks, I'll have to tell a company what physicians think of their pipeline liver disease drug product and whether or not it'll be useful. I'm excited to see how that unfolds.|