“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves”- Thomas A. Edison

We all are capable; but how to channel our capabilities? How do we exactly know which opportunity will work best for us before taking any life changing decisions? Dr. Abhinav Srivastava in conversation with Advaita, talks about how we can grab the opportunities if we are skilled and have a positive attitude. Dr. Srivastava is a Professor at Amity University, Noida and founder of Indian Biological Sciences and Research Institute (IBRI).

When we talk about the life of PhD students now-a-days, the situation seems depressing. A research scholar gives around 6 (more or less) years of his/her life to research and the moment of submitting the thesis becomes one such moment where a scholar found himself/herself blocked for the outer world. The entire tenure (feels like a lifetime) of a PhD student revolves around a hypothesis, collecting, analyzing and making sense of the data with only one focus in mind- submitting the thesis. During the research tenure, a PhD student struggles with failed experiments, poor finances, paper rejection, lack of social life, conflicts with the supervisor and uncertainty of future. What next? Most of the PhD students are blank when asked this question. The problem can be solved if the students are skilled and have a positive attitude. This can open them up for the plethora of opportunities where they can utilize their capabilities.

During the talk with Dr. Srivastava, he told us how during the first year of PhD he started directing himself towards what seems like a good opportunity to him. After his masters, he worked for a Canada based MNC as technical head of their Maharashtra region. By working in the field of environment, he developed a keen interest in the subject and in a desire of getting his hands dirty and explores the subject to its deepest mysteries, he decided to leave his job and pursue a PhD. “I am an enthusiastic person. I didn’t think twice before leaving a well-paid job and was all excited to do the real research. I knew my passion for research and teaching, and my responsibilities as a researcher and teacher, and to be able to do that, it was required to make my knowledge base stronger, adding some good skillsets to it, which was possible by joining hard core research, and of course an attitude to pursue this as a career was the most important too.”

Bridging the academic-Industrial gap

During his course of research, and understanding the academic curriculum, Dr. Srivastava realized some gaps in the education system. He realized that the academic courses were good enough to instill the subject knowledge but did not train an individual in a way so that he/she can be consumed in the industries after completion of the degree. If we talk about PhD, isn’t this the major concern of most of the researchers out there? What if someone don’t want to pursue a career in research but join an industry after PhD? Why don’t PhDs get such jobs easily?

This was where Dr. Srivastava’s capabilities were tested. He had a vision but he also had a PhD to complete. He knew what he wanted, and began his journey to entrepreneurship. With a few helping hands, IBRI was inaugurated. “This time I was not sure if the decision was wise. The life during research was already so packed, I didn’t have the slightest idea how would things work out. I just wanted to do it. It was depressing to see so many of my friends fussing about their future and how they wished they could join an industry instead of pursuing research after PhD”, Dr. Srivastava said. The mission of the research institute he established focuses on bridging the industry-academia gap by providing industry-oriented training and professional certifications to the students as well as working professionals. From a wide range of courses including pharmacovigilance, research methodology, bioinformatics, biostatistics, clinical trial data management, etc., the vision of the institute is to train the individuals from basic to industrial level across various domains.

Self-analyze and grab the right opportunities

Although Dr. Srivastava enjoys living up to his decisions now and inspires many of the researchers, the path he had chosen was not easy. He had increased his load, but then he was directing his capabilities towards something astounding. Balancing his life between research and entrepreneurship was tough but it was worth it. Even now he has not left his passion of research and teaching along with managing his enterprise.

When asked about the piece of advice he would like to give to all the researchers, he said- “Opportunities can be grabbed, if you are trained well. Knowledge is important but unless your skills are polished, grabbing the opportunity becomes a tough task. There are a million people with similar degrees but their attitudes have a huge difference. Why? It is how we develop and polish our skills, how updated we are, what values do we add to our profiles and what risks we are willing to take, that makes us different.”

Dr. Srivastava inspires us to utilize our capabilities and fight to find the right opportunities instead of waiting for an opportunity to just pop up. Train yourself, polish your skills and have an attitude to make your future shining.

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