Academia–Industry Transitions: Q & A with Hauke Vollstaedt

Many geochemists have transitioned from academia to industry, or vice-versa, during their careers, and sometimes back again or more than once. The EAG Communications Committee recently interviewed three geochemists who made the move, to find out how they made the transition and to ask their advice for others in the community who may be considering a similar change.


Here, we hear from Hauke Vollstaedt, Product Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Visit the EAG blog to read more interviews in the series!


Hauke Vollstaedt – Product Manager, Thermo Fisher Scientific (Bremen) GmbH

What is your job?

I am a Product Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific and cover the Triton Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer (TIMS), Element High Resolution ICP-MS, and Element Glow Discharge MS. My primary responsibility is to drive, strategize, and communicate the vision for these products. This includes managing the planning, forecasting, production, launching, and marketing of products at all stages of the product life cycle.


I started at Thermo Fisher Scientific as a Product Specialist, being responsible for demonstrating our instruments to prospective customers, producing application data reports and marketing materials, presenting data at scientific conferences, and forming collaborations with customers.



How did you get your job?

A sales representative from the company pointed me towards an open position at the factory in Bremen, Germany. I regularly applied for the position.


Did you initially plan on this career at the onset of your PhD?

Not at all. My initial plan was to go for a career in academia. Although I enjoyed working in academia a lot, pursuing a scientific career requires a lot flexibility in terms of residence and uncertainty in the early stages due to short-term temporary contracts. Additionally, I was stressed by feeling required to publish and apply for funding while researching and teaching at the same time. Therefore, I made the personal decision to apply for a position in industry. In industry, I can combine career and family much better.



What advice do you have for PhD students who are thinking of leaving academia?

Try to be open to explore new things beyond what you are doing currently. The change from academia to industry helped me a lot to find out what I like and dislike in each of my positions.


While academia offers work in interesting and challenging scientific projects, as well a high degree of freedom regarding the how and on what you are working, industry can offer as ambitious jobs, team spirit, and job security due to permanent positions.


Starting a job in industry is not a definitive step to turn your back on academia but enables you to gain competences that are useful in both fields.

Interview conducted by the EAG Communications Committee.