Opportunities for expats in China continue to look bright, especially in the drug industry (C&EN, Feb. 14, page 47). Paul Tempest, who moved to China in 2009 and is now executive director of integrated services for Chinese contract research organization ShangPharma, says many opportunities exist for midcareer medicinal chemists with strong leadership skills. "We've had a couple of openings here, and we've tried to hire some people, but in some situations it can be pretty difficult to convince people to come here," he says, noting that family obligations remain a common barrier. "The ideal candidate is somebody that has maybe 10 to 15 years of experience in the U.S., has a sense of adventure, and is okay living outside their comfort zone."
Because medicinal chemistry is relatively new in China, Tempest says, few local people are experienced enough for leadership positions. "What's still missing and probably won't be here for a while is the experience and the leadership," he adds. "If you have experience leading projects and helping bench scientists get their work done, then that's something that's valuable here."I don't think anyone thinks that this is a viable option for most chemists, but for some, it might be a real choice I suspect that you'd have to be single and more or less fancy-free. (I doubt your new Chinese salary would pay your American mortgage...)
UPDATE: A knowledgeable insider provides a useful approximate pay scale (conversions performed on 25JUL2011 through Google):
entry level PhD: 10-15,000RMB/mo ($18,619 - $27,928/year)
- Taxes are lower in China
- Cost of living can be much lower, if you don’t have kids.
- International companies here pay slightly more
- Process chemistry is in high demand here right now (experienced process and manufacturing chemists are probably bumped up on the above scale)