This month we feature Dr. Aoife O Dwyer (PhD), founder of MSL Consultant.
Aoife studied a degree in Genetics and Cell Biology, and then a PhD in Immunology. She founded her business, using her background in STEM and industry knowledge. She created a new career path and made it her own. Today she supports aspiring Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) learn more about the field and coaches them to get their first job. Aoife started MSL Consultant in Australia, then moved to Japan, Ireland, Austria and Germany.
We asked Aoife to tell us more about her experience founding her business, and her experience as a woman in STEM.
What inspired you to start your business and how is it going?
I worked in pharma for a number of years as a medical science liaison and recognised that there was a gap in terms of information about how to transition to pharma and how to actually perform the medical science liaison role. I started my business to fill that gap. It’s going great so far. I’ve been able to help so many people from all over the world get their first MSL job and start their medical affairs career!
Tell us about your typical day
I usually start the day with checking my emails and my LinkedIn. I reply to anything that is urgent. I spend the rest of my day creating content (blog posts, LinkedIn posts, weekly newsletter or podcast). I then spend some time identifying interesting guests to interview for my podcast. Following that, I spend the afternoon coaching people who have upcoming MSL interviews or coaching existing MSLs on how to interpret clinical data, how to influence and how to develop relationships with key opinion leaders.
What is most challenging about being a STEM woman in business?
Running your own business means that you are 100% in charge of what you do on a day to day basis. This means that it can sometimes be difficult to motivate myself to do tasks that are challenging and I have to constantly (gently!) push myself outside my comfort zone to ensure that I keep growing and keep learning.
Since I’ve started my business I’ve been lucky to develop close friendships with some other amazing women in STEM with their own business which has been an amazing support to me on my business journey.
What is most rewarding about being a STEM woman in business?
Starting my own business from scratch and building it from the ground up has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I also LOVE receiving emails from previous clients telling me that because of my help they got offered an MSL job. Most of my clients have done PhDs and I know myself how challenging a PhD can be and how amazing it feels to have your hard work rewarded with an interesting, fulfilling and well paid job after your graduate.
Is there a lot of support for STEM woman in business in your country? Why do you think this is?
When I did my PhD in Ireland, I remember there was only one talk I ever went to regarding women in STEM and to be honest the focus was more on how to get back to the lab as soon as possible post partum as opposed to how to achieve a healthy work life balance and thriving career in academia. Therefore I would say that support for women in STEM was definitely lacking. When I worked in Pharma in Australia, I was fortunate to have some amazing female mentors who really helped me to grow and develop as a medical science liaison.
Is there anything that can improve this further?
It would be wonderful if there was government assistance in every country dedicated to women in STEM setting up their own business. I also believe that more women in STEM should be made aware of the fact that they can leverage their STEM skills to create their own business.
Do you have any advice for other STEM woman wanting to start their own business?
For those women in STEM who are worried that “I won’t make enough money”, or “not enough people will want to buy my services/products” focus on creating an online business that can access clients on a global scale. I’ve been able to build a sustainable business with clients from all over the world and an online business costs very little to start and can be built slowly over time when you are still working.
Go for it! It is so much fun to create a business from scratch and to decide what kind of hours/work you want to do and then create a business plan that reflects that!
Contact The Stempreneur & Support Their Business
You can contact Dr. Aoife O Dwyer and find out more about MSL Consultant, here.
Feature In The STEMPRENEUR Series
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