Meet the Evolve Team: Chay Carter


Today, we sat down with Chay Carter, our director at Evolve. We chatted all about Chay’s journey to Life Science recruitment, his relocation from the UK to the US and kick-starting our new brand, Evolve. 

Tell us about your journey to Evolve?

“I started in recruitment in 2007 and worked at a leading investment banking technology recruitment company until about 2013. 

I took some time off and met Craig and Wayne, the founders of Orbis when there were just two or three of them working in a small office above a station in London and I stayed in touch over the years. I left the investment banking recruitment space, and worked in the renewable energy industry for a while, before ending up in Life Sciences for the last couple of years. 

So, staying in touch with them over the years, things lined up nicely when I was interested in new opportunities, and we got things launched in May. It’s been a long journey and a long time staying in touch with those guys, but it’s all worked out. 

What attracted you to Life Sciences?

Well, having worked in a few different industries, I knew a few people who had worked in Life Sciences over the years and people who had made that move over from various recruitment sectors. 

It’s always something that fascinated me. 

 Being involved in such an integral part of modern society, with the development of drugs and medicines, is such an appealing and fascinating industry to be involved in.

What’s the best part of the job?

The best part of the job is speaking to people who are directly involved in the decision-making and approval process of drug development. 

It’s such an impactful industry and the people you speak to every single day are making such a big impact.

What’s the biggest challenge?

It’s quite a popular industry to recruit into, and obviously, it’s very scientific too. Finding the best candidates is a difficult job, right? 

Our job as headhunters and as solution providers for hiring managers means that we have to learn as much as possible about those markets and get to know the industry and the candidates as much as possible. 

So, it’s probably a bigger learning curve than most industries, just because of its scientific nature. 

What is something that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?

I would have started in Life Sciences rather than the banking sector or renewable energy. 

I enjoy speaking to people in the industry who are directly involved in other drug development or device development. I think from a recruitment perspective, I would have had more exposure to some client-facing roles when I was younger and getting to know the decision-makers, but you know, you learn these things over the years and get more comfortable with it. 

So, there’s a gradual learning curve, and I’m glad I’ve ended up where I am.

You graduated with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology. Tell us a bit more about that. Do these skills transfer into your approach to work?

That’s a really interesting question, actually…

I think there’s a side to management, growing a team and building a business, which is a huge element of psychology, motivation and team leadership. That all ties into the fundamentals of psychology and understanding how people think and make decisions the way they do. 

But there’s also the element of my degree where we were studying clinical data and how to do data analytics in relation to the results of studies, which is what a large portion of this industry is all about. 

There were things that I studied in 2005 that when I graduated, I didn’t think would be applicable in my life because I wasn’t planning on taking clinical routes; however, in Life Sciences, I’m looking at it now, learning more about it and remembering stuff that I studied 18 years ago now… Wow. 

You’re originally from the UK. How’s life in LA and how does it compare?

I moved around a lot when I was younger. 

I was born in England, but I went to a school in Germany from 8 to 18 and went to high school in Amsterdam. I was used to moving around a lot and then I moved from Amsterdam to London when I was 18, then moved from London to New York and then for the last couple of years, I’ve been living in LA.

I think there is something appealing about California. It’s got a good PR team, I think everyone knows quite a lot about it even if they haven’t been.

LA is a huge sprawling city which reminds me a lot of London just without public transport, but it has incredible weather and there’s so much to do in California as a state that it’s just lovely. It’s great to have come from New York to California, and see two iconic, American landscapes and cities.

What is the most exciting movement happening in the Life Science space right now?

Everyone is talking about AI at the moment and the usage of AI in drug discovery. There are more and more companies utilizing technology and there are some really exciting startups as well. 

We’re using AI to help analyze and make more efficient clinical trials. I think that’s going to be the biggest change in the industry right now. 

There are a lot of companies that have been using it for quite a while but with all the attention on it in the media and every industry right now, I think that the next logical step is to see more companies adopt the technology.

I don’t think it will be a recognizable industry in a few years – it will be very different, in how we use technology. 

What does DEI mean to you? How is Evolve positively impacting inclusion within the Life Sciences industry?

I think DEI in Life Sciences is a really interesting conversation because it’s quite a diverse industry already, more so than many other industries that I’ve worked in.

I think banking has a reputation for being less inclusive. There are a lot of people moving over from different power generation markets which again, isn’t that diverse, whereas Life Sciences is fascinating, but there’s still work to be done. 

It is one of the leaders in diversity across the major sectors of the world but I do think there’s more work to be done. There’s a lot of collaboration to be done with clients and research into candidate pools that they don’t have access to. 

Obviously where recruiters come in, as opposed to internal recruitment teams that are mainly focused on just proceeding applicants, we’re able to go out there and target certain groups and demographics which may help improve the diversity within companies.

How do you feel about kick starting this new brand?

It’s really exciting!

It’s daunting at the same time, just because it’s such a big industry and being in California is great for the industries that exist here, whether in Southern California or in the Bay Area,  it’s the world’s largest Life Sciences hub. 

There are tons of clients and tons of people to meet, tons of business to develop and it’s just going to take a lot of ‘rolling up the sleeves’ and hard work. 

We are actively growing the Evolve team, what behaviors do you look for when hiring?

I think because it’s a startup, we need people who, first of all, aren’t afraid to work hard, build something, and have an entrepreneurial mindset around growing something. 

We have to be flexible when we’re building a business too, because we’re currently in a slower market than usual. 

We’re not 100% sure what the markets going to look like in the future. There’s a big inclusion of technology at the moment, as I mentioned before, so I think we need people who are open-minded and entrepreneurial to look at different types of clients and types of markets. 

I think at the same time, there’s a lot of competition out there that focuses on high-volume recruitment when I think there’s not too much competition and not too many people doing it well. 

Senior-level recruitment and Execs are providing more complex solutions to clients and complex problems. We’re looking for people who can bring new ideas, fresh approaches, and have that entrepreneurial mindset. 

We want to focus on people who have a scientific background and can really add value to clients just from a knowledge-sharing perspective, as well as being recruitment experts. 

To have people come on board, you have to understand the science at a high level and that would be ideal for us.

What do the next few years look like for Evolve? Where do you plan to take this brand?

I think there are lots of different ways to look at the Life Sciences industry. 

There are key skill sets that clients struggle to recruit for, to a high standard, that are maybe over-saturated or they’re not quite getting the high quality that they expect. I think there’s a way that we can break it up by skill set, but there are also different industries within Life Sciences so, we’ve got the biopharma market, drug development, medical device market and the clinical trial market as well. 

There are three angles there to build and to grow around. We’ve got the whole world to look at as well, so I think we’ve got tons of opportunities to grow. 

Start in California and focus on those three core industries with a focus on the core skill sets and build industry experts and trusted individuals within those markets. 

Then we will look at the East Coast, Europe and then we’ll look at Asia as well. 

There’s a lot we can do and a lot to grow into, these are the joys of a startup!  

The question is, do you jump into all of it, or do you take it slowly and make sure that you’re becoming excellent, before moving on?

Enough about work; do you have any hobbies? Side hustles? What are you passionate about away from your desk?

A few things, I suppose. 

I’ve been doing day trading for a little while now. The joys of being on the West Coast is that the stock market in America opens up at 6:30 in the morning so you can get a couple of hours of trading in the morning. 

Also, I’ve just bought a house in California which probably needs a little bit of work, so going to turn into a part-time handyman as well at some point.

My wife went through a phase of rescuing cats off the street so, we’ll probably end up turning it into a bit of a petting zoo or something like that!

Who has had the most impact on you (personally or professionally)?

It’s really interesting, I was back in London getting my visa and the day I flew back, I went to meet some friends for a coffee. I bumped into my old CEO from the first company I worked at. A guy who built this incredible staffing firm. 

It was great to see him because it reminded me of some of the hard work, dedication and focus that he put in every day. He was on the sales floor even though he had a multi-100-person company at the time.

I think back then, I wasn’t as appreciative of what he was doing and what he was building.  Having seen him again and having progressed in my career, working at other companies and setting up other businesses, it was a great reminder just to see what it takes to be that successful. The hard work, focus and having people around you that you can trust, build around and reward. 

If you weren’t in recruitment, what do you think you would be doing?

If my wife had anything to say about it, I would legit be running a farm somewhere raising animals. 

I have some really good friends in Los Angeles who are working in the music industry and now over the years, I’ve been making a little bit of music myself, electronic music with friends. So, if I didn’t do recruitment, I’d probably be doing something like that.”

You can connect with Chay here. If you fancy having a discussion regarding a new role or hiring plans, get in touch!

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