Prateek Peres-da-Silva, an intern at Thought Leader Select and student at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, recently sat down with Dr. Maher “Max” Noureddine, Thought Leader Select’s departing chief scientific officer, to discuss his achievements at the company, as well as his vision for the non-profit he is launching to improve the professional lives of health care providers. Peres-da-Silva is a junior at UNC, double-majoring in business and biochemistry.
Prateek Peres-da-Silva: In part one of the interview, we talked about your work for Thought Leader Select. For the rest of our conversation, I’d like to hear your take on the future. What are your plans for the new year?
Max Noureddine: I stepped down from my position with Thought Leader Select to focus completely on establishing and running a new non-profit entity, which I have named The Institute for Advanced Career Development (IACD).
Prateek Peres-da-Silva: In some of our previous conversations, you have mentioned that there will be several mentoring programs, aimed at educating healthcare and legal professionals, set up under the institute’s umbrella. Can you tell us more about these programs?
Max Noureddine: One of the immediate objectives of the IACD is to provide healthcare professionals and scientific researchers with training and mentorship on how to shape their careers to become effective leaders in their areas of specialty. The sustained, wholesome, multi-dimensional, and customizable career development training is based on the professional focus area and future aspirations of the trainees. The IACD will develop and provide educational seminars and workshops at the appropriate venues, such as conferences or symposia that are normally attended by these professionals, and at academic or training institutions that view this training as an essential addition to their existing curriculum. This initial offering will also be coupled with one-on-one mentoring sessions with individual trainees who will interface with a qualified mentor.
Another focus of the institute is to train legal professionals on DNA as a forensic tool. There is a huge need for this education, give the importance that DNA evidence now plays in the justice system. As a geneticist, I have been very interested in providing this training to legal professionals so that they become more competent and versed in their careers. I believe this goes hand in hand with career development for professionals, and it fits well with the goals of the institute.
Prateek Peres-da-Silva: Why is the education and development of these particular groups of professionals so important? What will they gain from participation in the program?
Max Noureddine: As a nation, we have done a commendable job in providing excellent resources, opportunities, and venues for our healthcare professionals and scientific researchers to develop academically and become productive members in that system. Furthermore, we continue to be proactive in narrowing the socioeconomic gaps that could preclude aspiring professionals from reaching their career goals. However, there are still serious gaps that are not being addressed, particularly in areas of career counseling, mentoring, and objective career guidance.
Gaps also exist in providing our professionals with career leadership skills, and the ability to assimilate their vast knowledge and training in pathways that will not only propel their careers forward, but will also invigorate and strengthen our healthcare system and as a whole. In this system, where shortages in personnel are manifesting more and more, every single properly trained professional counts. And while we may be able to mitigate this shortage by increasing the number of graduates who are qualified to do the job, we must also inspire our graduates to become leaders in their respective fields–leaders who will innovate, think outside the box, and provide back more efficiency and integrity to the system.
Furthermore, in the last ten years, the increase in the number of graduates in the healthcare sciences research area in particular has been met with a sharp decrease in the number of job opportunities and sources of research funding for such professionals. The current economic environment will further exacerbate this issue and will undoubtedly add pressure on those professionals to seek alternative career paths where they can still utilize their education and training. By and large, professional education curricula are not designed to educate the graduates and trainees on how to develop their careers to become future thought leaders. Therefore, there is a need to infuse this type of career training and mentoring into educational curricula, and to enrich the level of awareness of current and future healthcare and scientific professional on potential career growth and opportunities, and ways to pursue those opportunities while maintaining integrity, professionalism, and preserving public trust.
Prateek Peres-da-Silva: How do you envision your role in developing the institute, and, further down the road, how will your role evolve?
Max Noureddine: The initial stage of developing the institute will require the most flexibility in my role and all the combined skills that I have gained so far–mainly, my solid skills in academic genetics and biomedical research with my more recently acquired skills in project leadership, management and oversight, consultancy experience, and a deeper understanding of what it takes to become a thought leader in a given field. I must also focus on securing the necessary funds from granting agencies and foundations to help kick-start the services of the institute. My hope for the longer term is that the institute’s operation will be smooth and streamlined, so that I can then focus on developing new programs and reach to professionals in other disciplines. We all need mentors in our lives, and through the mission of the IACD, I believe we can partner with various types of professionals on their career development journeys.
Prateek Peres-da-Silva: Final question for you, Max—What are some of the innovative ideas you have that really differentiate the institute from similar organizations in the marketplace?
Max Noureddine: There are many career development entities out there that provide very helpful seminars and training exercises to wide audiences. The IACD believes that every professional’s career journey is unique. I think the IACD will differentiate itself through its goal of providing customized, one-on-one career development solutions that are based on solid data and established career markers. This custom mentorship will also be based on interacting with a suitable mentor. I can’t give away all the details, as you can imagine, but let me summarize by saying this–the IACD has big plans to be unveiled soon!