/ Asked by Xavier
I am a biomedical engineering and I was wondering if my career goals are an upper management position in scientific R&D (particularly pharmaceuticals) would it be better to get a PhD. in biomedical engineering or a master's in biomedical engineering along with an MBA?
Answered by Rachel, Hiring Expert at Eaton, on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Within the biomedical field, including pharmaceuticals, a PhD is usually a requirement to reach the upper echelons of management roles. If you are still an undergraduate with less than 3rd year (Junior) standing I would suggest that you keep your options open and do not commit just yet without having the opportunity to review all of the possibilities that truly interest you. If you feel that you have already concluded your due diligence and are committed to this career path, then I would suggest that you work on making connections and expanding your network to encompass individuals who fit the career profile that you want for yourself and foster a mentor relationship with one or two people who will help you on your career path.

With that being said, I am a supporter of achieving a MBA for anyone interested in a career that has a focus on management and leadership. One thing you may want to look into with your academic/faculty advisor is whether or not your university offers an MBA with a biomedical focus that will allow you to roll right into a PhD without having to move schools. Often times these programs have a specific internship requirement which will provide you valuable industry experience in addition to the lab and research experience you will have built into your programs already. I like this option in particular because a lot of things can change in your personal and/or professional life in the decade or so that it takes most people complete their PhD. Either way I commend you for your focus on your education and career growth and wish you the best of luck!
Answered by John, Hiring Expert at DuPont, on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Good question.

Generally, the answer would be that having a PhD would be a good decision.  Upper level management in R&D will most likely have direct reports who have PhDs.  The more you can understand your reports, the better you will be as a manager.  There is also a credibility you may foster by having a PhD in this community

To confirm this, I suggest you make connections with employees at companies you admire in this field and ask them specifically what their requirements are for technical management.  While there are general trends, not all companies are structured the same or value the same experiences or education.  Some companies may value technology managers with an MS in technology plus an MBA more than a PhD in technology. 
Answered by Bryan, Hiring Expert at IBM Corporation, on Thursday, August 28, 2014
Within the R&D area, I would have to recommend the PhD.  We mainly target PhD candidates for our Research opportunities in most scientific disciplines.  In fact, in many cases it is a required qualification to even be considered for a role in that area. 

I do realize the importance of an MBA for management and leadership skills, but I feel that the PhD should be your first target to open available entry level opportunities in the R&D space.  You should have an easier path to a future management role in that area after being part of the R&D team. That might mean future training, education and mentoring around leadership and business management.  Most companies usually offer those types of employee development opportunities and might even cover different costs for that type of education. 

One additional thing to keep in mind for the Research space is that hiring managers are usually very engaged with faculty at campuses running the PhD programs and it is through those relations that many companies identify top candidates.  If you do not go through a PhD program on campus, you may be cutting yourself off from great faculty members that already have strong relations with company contacts with opportunities in that space. 



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