PSI Alumni Careers: Gesara Bimashofer – from PhD at NUM to Consultant at APP Unternehmensberatung AG
What was your role at PSI and in which area did you work?
I was a PhD student in the LNS (Laboratory for Neutron Scattering and Imaging) and in the TFI group (Thin Films and Interfaces).
What do you do now and where do you work?
I am currently working as a consultant at APP Unternehmensberatung AG in Bern.
How did you find your job?
I found APP while browsing through various consultancy websites. The website particularly caught my eye because it not only presented entry-level opportunities, but also different client projects of APP. As a doctoral student in chemistry, this gave me a great insight into the everyday life of a consultant. During an informative and nice telephone conversation with an HR employee, I was also able to clarify my open questions and clear up any last doubts. The honest exchange, the transparency of the client projects and the good entry opportunities finally persuaded me to apply.
Why did you choose this employer?
The job content and the employment conditions convinced me. The projects are exciting, and a good work-life balance is really lived at APP. The application process was transparent and pleasant from start to finish. The interviews took place at eye level and there was no "questioning", but rather getting to know each other. I received an offer directly at the second interview. Since everything was right for me, I accepted it right away.
What does your typical working day look like?
The good thing is that there is never a "daily routine" here, because you work on different projects with different clients. That makes it exciting and varied. I lead meetings and workshops, develop concepts and studies and design solutions, which are then implemented together with the client. I can work on site with clients, in one of the APP offices or in my home office. So, most of my working days are quite dynamic.
What do you particularly like about your job?
At APP I am encouraged and challenged. With the variety of projects and clients, I can constantly learn new things and broaden my horizons. Since I work on different projects in different areas at the same time, it never gets boring. I find the view behind the scenes of clients and industries very enriching. I also really appreciate the exchange with my APP colleagues. Because we come from many different fields of study, I get a wide variety of input and interesting conversations take place.
How did you manage the transition to your new role? What was different, what was similar, what surprised you?
The transition went pretty smoothly because APP has a specific introduction programme and offers various certifications. So, you quickly find your way around and are made fit for everyday life as a consultant. Of course, you deal with different topics in consulting than in science. But there are also certain similarities e.g., IT/business projects and scientific projects can be approached methodically in the same way. I had the biggest concerns about the dress code. In my previous job at PSI, no one cared how you dressed. In consulting, you have to stick to certain standards, so I was a bit afraid that I would have to wear an uncomfortable suit every day. But that's not the case. On most days I can dress "smart casual". Only exceptionally do my more formal clothes come out of the closet.
Which of the skills you acquired at PSI help you in the new role?
Of course, the typical "scientific skills" like analysis, planning, foresight, etc. But also the cultural aspects; since the PSI is a multicultural institution, I learned how to communicate and work with people from different (professional) backgrounds. This now helps me in my everyday work as a consultant. Although we are not internationally active, we deal with different clients from different sectors on a daily basis.
What did you learn after leaving PSI?
I learned to be more relaxed and to believe in myself. The PhD was super stressful and full of ups and downs. During the four years of the PhD, you think a lot: "If I fail, I've done everything for nothing" - that causes a lot of pressure. Now I can approach the tasks more calmly and know that I can rely on my knowledge and skills.
Is there anything you miss now that you are no longer at PSI?
My colleagues from back then - but I still try to stay in touch with them. :)
What would you like to pass on to younger colleagues?
Try to ask yourself what you are good at and what skills and interests you have outside of science. Also visit job fairs and company events to get insights into different fields. Maybe the perfect job for you is something different than you originally thought.