As I’ve been talking to people for this book, there are many common themes that are emerging. One very common theme has to do with what motivated people to move from academia into the private sector. Nearly everyone says that they wanted to make a tangible difference in the world and see the results of their work. The best expression of this that I have heard so far was from Chris Myatt who, in describing the rush he gets from shipping a challenging product to a customer said, “It’s about being able to shape the world.”
That statement really resonated with me, and I suspect it does with many other scientists in industry as well. Very few of us chose our career path because we thought we would make lots of money. Most of us wanted to make a difference. We are motivated by the expectation that our work will make the world better in some way. Designing, building, and/or improving a product that will be used tomorrow by a person we can meet, speak to, and understand the needs of gives us that – an opportunity to shape the world.