From Networking to Job Opportunity: How BioHouston's Chili Cookoff Propelled Naomi Bier's Career

Naomi Bier began her academic path with a Bachelor's degree in Biology and undergraduate research in Chemistry. She then embarked on a rewarding position at the esteemed National Institute of Standards of Technology, where she gained experience in the field of chemical measurement science. Fueling her thirst for knowledge, Naomi pursued a Ph.D. in Microbiology at UT Health Houston, dedicating an impressive seven years to her research. Following her Ph.D., she delved into a postdoctoral fellowship, specializing in infectious disease epidemiology and microbial genomics.

During her postdoctoral journey, Naomi became acquainted with BioHouston, our high-value community renowned for networking and career advancement opportunities. Seeking guidance on networking in the industry, she reached out to a mentor with industry experience who recommended BioHouston's Chili Cookoff—a turning point in Naomi's career. After contacting Ann Tanabe, she enthusiastically volunteered at the 2022 Chili Cookoff event.

With Naomi on a mission to network outside of academia and venture into the industry, Ann recognized a great opportunity; she handed Naomi a Sharpie marker and name tags and set her on her way to every booth. Naomi engaged with every booth, handing out name tags, of which her own read   "Open to network,"  instantly catching the attention of industry professionals, leading to stimulating discussions.

Collecting business cards along the way, Naomi understood the importance of diligent follow-up. Among the contacts she made was the CEO of Forward Science, a company focused on changing lives with effective and affordable oral health care solutions, which aligned with her own interests. Intrigued by their work, she expressed her genuine enthusiasm to learn more, unaware that what she believed to be a networking opportunity would quickly turn into a job opportunity. With a proactive approach, Naomi followed up with the leadership at Forward Science, expressing her desire to join their team. This ultimately led to a successful follow-up interview and, as a result, Naomi has been an integral part of Forward Science for over a year.

Reflecting on her journey, Naomi credits BioHouston for playing a crucial role in propelling her toward this fulfilling career. The power of networking in our high-value community cannot be underestimated. Notably, the Chili Cookoff, where Naomi was entrusted with name tags and a sharpie, served as a catalyst for her connections and remarkable opportunities.

For Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows aspiring to break into the industry, Naomi has some valuable advice to share: 

  • Seize networking opportunities, explore various events, and consider volunteering. While engrossed in your rigorous thesis work, it's easy to overlook the significance of building contacts outside academia. 
  • Volunteering not only enables you to attend an event without the entrance fee, which is really helpful on a tight academic stipend, but also positions you as a purpose-driven individual, making it easier to initiate conversations and expand your network.
  • Follow-up is the key to maintaining contact and forging meaningful connections!

Don't let a lack of confidence deter you. As a graduate student volunteer, you have a platform to engage with seasoned professionals to leverage the opportunity to build your personal brand and make a lasting impression. Remember, first impressions matter, and aligning your personal brand with volunteering helps position yourself effectively.

So, where is Naomi now? 

She has found her place at Forward Science, where she serves as the R&D Manager for the vertically integrated company, ensuring the quality and scientific rigor of their existing and future products. From product inception to manufacturing, sales, and customer support, Naomi plays a pivotal role in improving oral healthcare and enhancing the user experience. Her passion for positively impacting the patient experience in clinics has come to fruition.

Naomi continues to engage with the BioHouston community to help Forward Science network, strategize, and move forward with meeting its business goals. She is forever grateful that our CEO took the time to answer her email directly. 

Are you ready to meet and mingle with a high-value network, become a BioHouston member today!