March 10, 2017: Panel on Consulting and Coaching

(l to r): Dr. Deanna Mitchell, Dr. Will Pearson, Dr. Jackie Acho

This workshop was provided to PhD students who are interested in careers in addition to staying in academia. Two UofM alumni, Dr. Jacqueline Acho, Dr. Deanna Mitchell, and Dr. Will Pearson, a former faculty member, presented in the panel. Dr. Jacqueline Acho got her PhD from MIT chemistry and worked for McKinsey&Co. Dr. Deanna Mitchell got her PhD from Northwestern and worked for Booz Allen Hamilton. Dr. Will Pearson was a UofM chemistry faculty for 20 years before he chose to become a personal coach.

First, the guest panelists gave a brief introduction about themselves before they accepted questions from the students. “I think being a consultant benefited my career a lot,” said Dr. Mitchell, “when I am applying for the board positions now, I’m at least 10… or even 20 years younger than the other candidates.” The panelist gave explicit instructions on how to pursue a career in consulting and coaching based on their own experience, some of which can be concluded here:

  • Be prepared before the interview: Set up networks. Talk to the people you know in the companies. Practice on the case study for the interview.
  • Keep a good academic standing in graduate school: Although consulting seems to be a very different career path than staying in academia. The panelists still kept a good record in research and paper publication in graduate school. And they suggest people doing so in graduate school as well.
  • Find your real interest: the panelists suggested finding the career path one could find most excited about. And keep the momentum throughout the career.
  • Find the peace in your heart: do meditation regularly to find the peace and balance.
  • Be prepared for the challenges: this job could require a lot of travelling, social networking and time devotion. The panelists stated that they sometimes had to work nearly 100 hours a week to get the job done. They suggest the audience to be prepared to the challenges they might encounter.

After the open discussion, there was also a private session in which students were able to meet with each panelist individually. The panelists gave career suggestions to the students based on their current situation and qualification.