Managing A Research Lab – What Skills Do You Need?

A career in science can be gratifying and super exciting. Being the manager of a research laboratory has a lot of responsibility and some great world-changing projects. You will be in charge of psychologists, chemists, and biologist just to name a few. Aside from being the one who needs to order lab coats, you will also be guiding the projects to completion. You’ll be supporting a team of research developers, which means hiring, managing, evaluations and supervising will all be down to you. Sound like fun? Yes! Here are a couple of the skills that you’re going to need to run a tip-top lab.

Multi-tasking

In anyone lab, you might have a couple of different projects running. Plus, projects that you are bidding for. Keeping track of your financial resources during cutbacks are going to be key. There might be conflicting priorities, and you’re likely going to be making some tough calls. Deciding how to stay on track, completing admin tasks, and technical tasks at the same time. You’ll need to be organized, and have a keen attention for detail. Keeping meticulous records and making a note of the progress and tasks completed and to be undertaken. You’ll be drafting proposals and wrapping up other projects simultaneously – and always keeping an eye on the grant windows.

Leadership

You need to be someone who can keep a firm hand, as well as a guiding one. You’ll have to master giving clear instructions to the executives awaiting results and the scientists working on the projects. The general public will also be informed of breakthroughs and investments into your plans. Encouraging your staff is going to be the very minimal requirement from you because sometimes those breakthroughs never come. Resolving conflicts between staff, and boards are going to come into play too. You’re always going to be aiming for the most favorable outcome for the team you are managing. Being personable is an absolute must.

Budgeting

As mentioned above, you’ll need to be great with funding. Unsurprisingly many research projects are outsourced due to cuts in funding, and tight budgets. But, your analytical skills will help you focus and find the best way to manage those projects. You’ll need a fully stocked store room, a full team of staff and access to plenty of equipment – despite any cut you might be facing. Your problem solving will be next to none. You will be able to find the most cost-effective solutions for reaching the milestones that have been outlined in the funding proposals and the ones set out by the managing boards and executives. There will, of course, be issues that arise as a project goes on, and you will be fantastic at spotting them early and correcting the course of the research team.

If all of that sounds like your idea of heaven, then aside from those skills you’re going to need a master or Ph.D. too. It is worth noting that the work pays off nicely with a 6 figure yearly income.