Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

Girish received his Ph.D. from the Department of LMP (Laboratory, Medicine & Pathology) at University of Toronto in Clinical Biochemistry, investigating biomarkers for early detection of prostate cancer. Networking and exploring his options in the life sciences industry, including as Research Scientist at Indoc Research, Girish found an appreciation for the incentive driven environment of sales. In his current role, he has the autonomy to pursue his own approach and the right amount of work-life balance. His role requires strong communication and time management skills as well as an excellent technical knowledge of the field. He encourages students to always keep their heads up and focus on their interests and strengths. “Ask yourself if a position seems like a good fit and then figure how to best position yourself for it”.

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Career advice to younger self in grad school?

Make sure you get an early start learning about alternate careers and how to make transitions. Get involved with organizations like LSCDS and Life Science Ontario to start building your network and gaining a better understanding of what opportunities are out there in the GTA.

How to explain to your parents what you do for a living?

A: The day-to-day experience of sales is something my parents can quickly and easily understand.  My doctoral research was definitely not as clear. The best way to explain that was to relate it to health care – trying to better understand the basic science of cancer cells in order to help create better diagnostic testing and therapeutics.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

A: Being a Principal Investigator….no seriously, if I found something I really liked to study.  Apart from that, if presented with an opportunity, I think I would try being a lecturer, medical science liaison, management consultant or even start my own business and be an entrepreneur.

Tell us about your career path

Dr. Girish Sardana began his scientific career at Queen’s University where he undertook an undergraduate degree in the Life Sciences and later completed his honours thesis entitled “Generation of Mutant Constructs at Tyrosine 1062 in the MEN2B and Wild Type Forms of the Short Isoform of RET” in the laboratory of Dr. Lois Mulligan.

Having received his Honours Bachelors of Science, Girish returned to Toronto where he began his doctorate in Clinical Biochemistry, continuing his research in oncology with a thesis entitled “Identification and Validation of Novel Candidates for the Early Detection of Prostate Cancer Through Proteomic Analysis of Prostate Cancer Cell Culture Conditioned Media” in the laboratory of Dr. Eleftherios Diamandis.  The research that he conducted during the course of those 5 years at Mount Sinai Hospital resulted in six publications for which Girish was the first author of four.  Girish did not limit himself to life within the laboratory and while concurrently completing such a productive doctorate, he somehow found the time to pursue a leadership role as the Seminar Series chair of the Life Science Career Development Society.

After completing his doctorate in a relatively quick five year period, Girish was recruited to role as a Biomarker R&D Associate at the Ontario Cancer Biomarker Network (OCBN now known as Indoc Research).  Still being a relatively young organization at that time, Girish performed many roles within the OCBN. He was soon promoted to Research Scientist and began managing OCBN’s critical biospecimens repository.

Two years later, Girish began networking to keep his options open.  Over the next few years he was hired for several contract positions. He spent just under a year in the laboratory consumables division at Thermo Fisher Scientific. He then took on another contract position with Beckman Coulter as a Senior Sales Consultant for capital equipment in their life sciences division.  Finally, upon finishing that contract, Girish returned to Thermo Fisher Scientific in the permanent position of Territory Sales Representative servicing Southwestern Ontario, Eastern Ontario, Northern Ontario, Manitoba and the Atlantic Provinces.  Overall, Girish has been highly fortunate and clearly well networked to be able to consistently move from one position to the next without any real unemployment time.

What do you like about your job?

Girish appreciates the incentive driven environment of sales and the autonomy to pursue your own approach.  He has had a large breadth of exposure to research in government organizations, industry, and with a large multinational corporation such as Thermo Fisher. The role of Territory Sales Representative requires strong communication and time management skills as well as an excellent technical knowledge of the field.  Finally, Girish enjoys the limited travel (and expense account that comes with it!) and the relatively low stress he feels from doing a job he enjoys.  This is especially important considering his proudest achievement is his family and he can never have enough quality time with his 20 month old daughter.

Advice to students?

He encourages students to always keep their heads up and focus on your passion and interests.  He says “Novel opportunities are constantly developing; focus on what you enjoy doing and your strong skills.  You can do nearly anything if you care about it.  Ask yourself if a position seems like a good fit and then figure how to best position yourself for it”.  Girish leaves us with some excellent words for all of our own careers and we look forward to his continued commitment to the future of the LSCDS.