Managing and Leading for Science Professionals

1st Edition

(What I Wish I'd Known while Moving Up the Management Ladder)

Authors: Bertrand Liang
Print ISBN: 9780124166868
eBook ISBN: 9780124166967
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 23rd October 2013
Page Count: 192
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Can technical paradigms help managers lead technical companies? In Managing and Leading for Science Professionals, Bertrand Liang explains that they can, as he explores real issues of importance for technical students and managers who want to move into leadership positions. A CEO with an MBA, Liang originally trained as a neurology and oncology clinician and later earned a PhD in molecular biology and genetics. In this book, he emphasizes what he wishes he had known as he advanced through the organization. His practitioner's point of view is perfectly suited to those who are moving, or want to move, from the technical side to the business side. Focusing on the experiences of scientists and engineers, he teaches ways to speak top management's language. His insights deliver essential knowledge, empowering technical staff to succeed using the skills they know best.

Key Features

  • Describes "what I wish I’d known" as a manager with a technical background
  • Focuses on using skills other than risk analysis to make decisions
  • Explores ways to lead and manage innovation, particularly in relation to executives' responsibilities, skills, and tolerance for risk


Professionals in technical industries, especially pharma and biomedical sciences, 1st year MBA students with technical backgrounds, and participants in executive MBA courses, especially those from technical industries. 

Table of Contents


A Leadership Prayer




Chapter 1. The Road to Success is the Road to Failure


Shouldn’t Success be Based on Creating Data?

The Deception of Perception

Perfect is the Enemy of Good Enough

Being Complete Doesn’t Mean Being Complicated


Chapter 2. Management & Leadership


Being the Boss

Leadership is the Perspective; Management is the Tool


Chapter 3. Career Anchors


Technical/Functional Competence

General Managerial Competence




Sense of Service

Pure Challenge



Chapter 4. Delegation


Delegation: A Definition

The Delegation Work Out (Exercising Delegation)

Why Delegate?

Some Tenets on Delegation


Chapter 5. Taking Interest: New Skills


Defining the Technical Executive Role

Active Listening

Knowing Enough Not to be Dangerous


Chapter 6. Risk = Management (as does Uncertainty)


Risk and Uncertainty

Risk, Uncertainty, and Decision Making

Risk, Uncertainty, and Disruptive Innovation

Risk, Uncertainty, and Dominant Design

Using Skunk Works to Mitigate Risk and Uncertainty

A Final Word about Corporate Strategy, Risk, and Uncertainty


Chapter 7. Decision Making is Hard


Identification of a Problem Isn’t Enough

Approaches to Solution Generation

Thinking about Thinking

Dealing with the Inevitable: Conflict in Decision Making


Chapter 8. Moving Up the Ladder: Abandoning Your


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© Academic Press 2014
Academic Press
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About the Author

Bertrand Liang

Bert Liang is trained in molecular biology and genetics (Ph.D.) and is a clinician (M.D.) with subspecialty training in both neurology and oncology. He possesses an MBA as well as corporate experience (currently Executive Director of Pfenex Inc.) and has more than 50 publications in both scientific and business subjects.

Affiliations and Expertise

M.B.A., M.D., Ph.D. Chief Executive Officer, Pfenex, Inc., San Diego, CA., USA


"Many scientists and engineers have the wrong perception of managing and what it takes to move up the ladder. This highly useful book demystifies what managers or leaders do, and offers valuable practical lessons that all scientific professionals could benefit from."--David Y Choi, Loyola Marymount University

"Why do many highly skilled and seasoned scientists have issues with adjusting to the new demands of a managerial position, you may have asked yourself. Bertrand Liang's book provides an insightful and easy to read answer from someone 'who has been there and who has done it'. Ease up, you are not facing a thousand pages with a myriad of figures and tables but instead many real life examples of what stops a lot of praised scientists from being equally successful team leaders."--Clive-Steven Curran, University of Muenster