Dr. Petros Grivas recently left the Cleveland Clinic for a new position at the University of Washington as Clinical Director of the Genitourinary Cancers Program and as Associate Member of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He speaks here with PracticeUpdate about practical, career-related considerations that a person in the early stages of his or her career should think about when faced with moving to a new job. In this third part of the interview, Dr. Grivas stresses the importance of being part of a team, of building a network. He speaks to the necessity of visibility and recognition, of reputation.
Part 3: Building a network
PracticeUpdate: What advice can you give for fellows/junior faculty on building networks and forming relationships? How important is it to have this network when you’re starting out? How has your network helped in your own career?
Dr. Grivas: Reputation, visibility, and recognition are critical aspects of career development. There is no doubt that there are multiple people out there who are amazing. They work super hard, they’re super smart, but they may not have the opportunity to be visible and show their work; so, it’s very important to have networks.
I mentioned earlier that “the strength of the wolf is in the pack”; again, I’m clarifying that this means that strength comes with a team. You have to be a member of a team, and the team can be in your own institution; but, also, teams can be built across institutions and in other collaborations. Seek mentors and seek collaborators outside your own institution in addition to within your own institution. It’s not either/or. It can be both, and it’s fine to have more than one mentor because they can complement each other, as long as they can get along well and they have a good understanding of what your goals are.
Building a network is key, and that’s why I think it’s important to be part of national and other committees. I think it’s important to try to go to landmark national and regional meetings. Also, the “AACR/ASCO Vail Methods in Clinical Research” workshop and the “Molecular Biology in Clinical Oncology” workshop are both fantastic, and you can build relationships that last for a long time. Lifelong relationships can be established, and people can collaborate based on them. So, it’s key to go to meetings such as these and other meetings to learn and network.
The other important piece is cooperative groups. I’m personally active in ECOG-ACRIN. It has been a great opportunity for me. Also, I was previously in SWOG, which also was fantastic for me. So, cooperative research groups, ECOG-ACRIN, SWOG, NRG, Alliance, et cetera are important. All of them are important, and you can find colleagues and collaborators. It’s important to show up and communicate, collaborate, say your opinion; it makes a significant difference. You can actually gain respect and visibility through cooperative group research that you may contribute to.
Same thing, you know, with some meetings, for example, with ASCO, AACR, NCI, FDA, and others. If you get invited, it’s important to go to those; they are priority meetings and high profile. You can meet great individuals, mentors, and colleagues there.
Of course, we cannot neglect the importance of social media, which plays an important role in career development, in my opinion. You have to be, of course, careful of what you quote and what you cite or reference in your tweets or other social media posts. Keep it professional and appropriate, and just stick with your objective, your academic or otherwise professional objective.
Making instructive comments about research helps build the community and your name. People might recognize you as being an opinion leader if you are active in social media, provided, of course, that what you say or write is, again, relevant to the science and to emergent data in the literature and research. And then, of course, working with publishers, I think, is important because you have to publicize your work, yourself, to a degree. It’s not bad to try to be visible.
Present your research in the public forum so people have the opportunity to critique it, to comment on it. Showing up at conferences, presenting your work, getting out there with your poster, showing up in someone else’s poster, giving out your business cards, talking to people, making connections, making interactions, and being visible. Try to give an oral presentation somewhere. Try to get an award, and, of course, always give credit. Again, it’s not all about you. It’s about the patients at the end of the day, and it’s about teams. So, always give credit and collaborate. Serving humanity takes a large team; you can build it!