Missouri Business

Program teaches soft skills to future science leaders

A new program is helping science-based doctoral students at the University of Missouri develop soft skills needed to succeed in today’s work environments.

The program, Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders for Science, was developed to bridge the soft skills gap between what life sciences doctoral students learn in school and what employers expect of future leaders.

The year-long program is the first of its kind to help PhD students and postdocs develop their emotional intelligence and soft skills.

The program is a result of a partnership between Monsanto Company; University of Missouri College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; and BONSAI, a leadership coaching and consulting company in Columbia.

“We have been hearing from the industry that our graduates are technically brilliant, but need the ability to collaborate, communicate effectively, lead, and network to get the results,” says Loriana Sekarski, president of BONSAI. “With this elite group of students, we have demonstrated that we can achieve this goal and better prepare them for careers in science.”

Fourteen students participated in the program, including three who received their doctorates in 2015. Each of the new doctoral graduates accepted offers for postdocs or industry positions, and say the new program helped them achieve their goals.