Friday, February 14, 2014

Podcast: See Arr Oh's startup adventures

See Arr Oh and I recorded a podcast talking about his adventures as a chemist at a startup. Give it a listen!

0:00: See Arr Oh begins his adventure as a founding employee at a startup
4:00: Starting the clock
7:45: In hindsight, what does SAO wish he knew beforehand?
8:50: Crazy startup stories
10:30: The tough times started
13:00: The company gets smaller
15:00: SAO's salary gets smaller, much, much, much smaller
17:30: What are interviews for mid-career chemists like now? 
20:40: Big company interviews
22:00: What's different about interviews now?
24:15: Role playing in interviews
27:30: Emergency funds needed
29:30: "You are more than just your job."



  1. Thanks for the podcast. This was a truly enjoyable discussion. I am an ex-Big Pharma scientist now working at an established CMO. However, there are people still around from the startup days and their stories of those times resembled SAO's. They were able to make it work but it was really rough for a while.

    I am a little horrified about the elimination of the seminar these days. At my Big Pharma job, I too was involved with behavioral type interview and I think it is total BS. I dreaded conducting these interviews and didn't really learn a lot about the candidate. Without a seminar and a healthy challenge of the items presented, there is no good way to establish how good of a scientist a person can be. Some individual interviewers will go into detail but I think the exchange with a larger group is invaluable. My company now still uses them and they have weeded some "smooth talkers". We are in the business of science and are small enough that one bad scientist, if he/she screws up a project, can get you a bad reputation. Since we can't compete on price with overseas CMOs, we have to offer value and quality to differentiate ourselves from everybody else.

    I keep 6 months cash on hand. I have a family and two teeneage kids, so that is quite a sum. It took a while to get there but I can sleep at night.

  2. anon electrochemistFebruary 15, 2014 at 9:02 PM

    Great content, thanks CJ.

  3. I can't seem to play the podcast. Has it been taken down or is it my computer? Thanks. I really wanted to hear it.

  4. Just got around to checking out this podcast -- thanks for sharing, CJ and See Ar Oh! And, sounds like it's scary times in the organic synthesis job market. Fingers crossed the analytical market is immune.