By Rebecca Manubag
On Friday April 8th, iJOBS hosted its first ever event with the renowned technology company, Siemens Healthineers, the brand name for Siemens’ healthcare business and formerly Siemens Healthcare. Siemens Healthineers is the medical device company connected to the larger corporation, Siemens AG, a German-based engineering company focused on industry, infrastructure, transport, and healthcare. They’re most recognized for their production of medical diagnostics equipment and aim to focus on patient-centered innovation.
At this event geared toward PhD students and postdocs, we heard from four panelists and a recruiter for Siemens Healthineers, Christine Carfagno. Christine began the event describing the mission and culture of Siemens Healthineers. The company is of one of world’s largest suppliers of healthcare technology for healthcare industry and a leader in medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, clinical IT solutions, and services. They also aspire to become the trusted partner of healthcare providers worldwide. Christine emphasized that the culture of the company is centered around diversity (she later highlighted the many available employee resource groups), and importantly, that they value incoming interns to add to the company’s diversity. This was a particularly attractive comment given the audience. Siemens Healthineers currently has over 18,000 patents globally and are present in over 70 countries. They’ve also recently acquired Varian, an American radiation oncology company.
Regarding hiring, Christine touched on some relevant information for the audience. First, it was emphasized that the company hires all levels of education, with some positions not requiring a PhD or postdoc. She also encouraged applicants to reach out to the recruiter listed on the job posting after applying for any clarifications. In terms of international hires, Christine mentioned that the company sees many students with F1 and J1 visas, and that they do provide sponsorships.
Following the company summary and hiring tips from Christine, the event moved to the panelists Dr. Nicole Okeke, Dr. Jennifer Cheek, Dr. Andrew Sinegra, and Dr. Jason Snyder, all of whom work in Research and Development. Each guest gave an overview of their education and career journeys, and what led to their current roles as Siemens Healthineers.
Nicole, a Rutgers alumnus who has been with Siemens for just over two years, began the panel portion. She was hired as a Technical Team Lead and has since been promoted to a Research and Technology Manager. During her PhD in Microbiology, she studied the antibiotic resistance of bacteria in the environment, then went to do a postdoc at the National Institutes of Health in a more clinical-based lab, but still focused on antibiotic resistance. This is where she became more interested in clinical work. About a year and a half into the postdoc, Nicole applied to Siemens and was able to land the position as Technical Team Lead within six months. Importantly, Nicole mentioned that she did not have any contacts with Siemens when she applied, demonstrating the positive outlook of a “cold” hire.
Jennifer Cheek was the next panelist, and she is now a Senior Director in assay development and has been with Siemens for over 16 years. Jennifer received her PhD from the University of South Carolina in Bioinorganic Chemistry. She expressed that her graduate school skillset was rather niche, as she studied iron heme enzymes. She went on to do a postdoc at Michigan State where she expanded her skillset to make her a more marketable as a scientist. After working with two other companies, Jennifer was headhunted by Siemens for a Staff Scientist position. She started in 2007 and worked her way up through various positions: Director, Senior Key Expert, and now Senior Director. She found that the transitions to each position were fluid, only presenting rapid learning curves as she learned how to manage more people on her team.
Andrew Sinegra was the next guest panelist, and he was a great representation of a fresh hire at Siemens. Andrew graduated with his PhD in 2021 from Northwestern University with his degree in Biomedical Engineering. Andrew is currently a Technical Team Lead, the same role that Nicole had landed when she first arrived. Andrew emphasized the importance of using your contacts at larger companies, as he had a connection at Siemens during his application process.
Jason Snyder was the fourth panelist, and a senior employee like Jennifer. Jason has been with Siemens for 17 years and currently has the role of Senior Key Expert. He received his PhD in Biochemistry and Biophysics from UNC Chapel Hill. Like many graduate students he planned to pursue the traditional academic route. He pursued a postdoc while his wife did a two-year fellowship. This also highlighted the relatability of having to consider personal circumstances when choosing a job. After her fellowship, Jason’s wife received an offer from Siemens which opened the door to Jason.
The event also included dialogue of some useful topics: the application process and requirements, transferrable skills from graduate school, pharma vs academia, and the day-to-day roles of the panelists. As part of R&D, the panelists’ current roles involve little to no benchwork. Rather, Nicole and Andrew work to design the assays and oversee assay development and validation, while Jennifer’s and Jason’s roles have more emphasis on direct communication with clients. The clientele for these types of tests and products includes mostly hospitals and testing facilities, and Jennifer mentioned that they also partner with pharma to develop certain assays. Jason also expressed the notable influence scientists offer with shaping development and advancement, which is not always common for healthcare companies.
As far as job requirements, inevitably, all the panelists agreed that having a strong foundation in the math and sciences helps when applying to their types of roles. Specifically, much of the assay development itself involves engineer-type thinking, rather than working at the bench performing the assays. However, it seemed that willingness to learn and being a well-rounded candidate is prioritized when being considered. Like many pharma or biotech positions, having the conventional accomplishments such as dozens of first-author publications aren’t weighed as heavily. However, it is important to remember that it reflects one’s ability to write and produce deliverables as a scientist. Jason also emphasized the importance of being able to present yourself and your data (referring to the interview presentation). He stated that “the decision makers aren’t interested in the material, but more that you present [data] in a clear way.” This further stressed the significance of being a well-rounded candidate.
Overall, the general impression from this event was that the panelists were very happy with their positions at Siemens Healthineers, and that a candidate doesn’t need extraordinary credentials to be considered for a role. The culture of the company, work-life synergy, and ability to move up quickly and recognizably were all appealing factors. Rather than being an ivy league PhD with two postdocs and 30 first-author publications, it is more critical that you have the basic background, are a balanced candidate, and of course, always have the desire to learn.
This article was edited by Junior Editor Natatlie Losada and Senior Editor Samantha Avina.
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