In the fourth installment of our new series of interviews, Ellen Harrington, Technical Sales Specialist, discusses all things BPES and Sales! Ellen tells us about her route to BPES, what makes BPES stand out, and what STEM industries need to do to be more inclusive of women.

How did you get into your role at BPES?

I was recruited and interviewed for several positions. None of them quite worked out and then this one came up. It was exactly what I was looking for! It was such a quick process and shortly after the initial interview, I was offered the job on the spot!

Whilst concluding my PhD, I knew that I didn’t want to continue with an academic, scientific role. I loved benchtop science but it just wasn’t a good fit for my personality. I missed the ‘people’ element of that. My favourite part of being in Uni was going to conferences and meeting people from other labs and collaborating on projects. This is how I knew I wanted a sales role.

The tricky bit was when I moved to the UK. I didn’t really have a ‘foot in the door’ anywhere. Every time I tried to apply for jobs in scientific sales, they’d respond with the same prerequisite of “you need sales experience”. I didn’t have this at the time so I went into recruitment to get ‘face to face’ sales experience. I eventually found my way back to life sciences and consequently found this job!

What is your favourite thing about your role as a Technical Sales Specialist?

Every day is different. I love that. There are always new people to talk to, and I think I was also somewhat desperate to get back into science. It’s just so nice to be back having these kinds of conversations with people again and to be able to help them with their processes.

If you weren’t a Technical Sales Specialist, what would you be doing?

That’s a really hard question. This is literally my dream job! I guess the next transition I could have made would have been to go back to benchtop science because I knew it well, but that really wasn’t what I wanted.

What would you say are the greatest challenges CLD labs face today?

There’s no time. Time is always of the essence. Although I never worked in a CLD lab, I suppose it is similar to research in graduate school. You’re always just trying to find ways to finish your degree as quickly as possible.

What do you think makes BPES stand out?

BPES stands out to me because the motto that we use is the foundation and is completely true to our brand. It’s not just words. If we can’t find a solution to help our customers, then we won’t push our products. If it’s not going to help them, then we won’t sell people something they don’t need, which is extremely valuable in this industry.

Have you experienced gender bias in the STEM industry?

The short answer is yes, I have noticed and felt the bias. One of the things I remember quite clearly when I used to attend conferences in graduate school is that I felt like I wasn’t taken as seriously as others, and in this case, males.

So when I would talk about my goals – you know, going into the commercial side of science and not academia – some would kind of scoff and put it down like it wasn’t important, or insinuate that going into sales is “something a woman would do”.

What do STEM industries need to do to be more inclusive of women?

I’d like STEM industries to give women more of a platform to discuss these issues with men. It’s one thing to discuss issues amongst women and feel temporarily supported, but that’s not where the issues are coming from.

Maybe at conferences, or just as a part of organisational gatherings, it would be nice to have an opportunity to discuss these topics with men, and maybe give people tips on how to avoid misogyny and unfair bias in the workplace. Presenting scenarios on how a woman would react to a comment or situation would highlight to others exactly what they’re doing wrong, when they possibly never realised this was the case.