Derek Lowe, of In The Pipeline fame, recently reported on an early-stage deal between two big pharmaceutical companies to combine two of their products in development into a single Phase I trail. While certainly of interest for the science, the part I found most fascinating is that the whole deal“was driven by two scientists meeting at an airport security checkpoint“. The two scientists from different companies apparently recognized each other’s names, started chatting, and 18 months later a professional collaboration is underway. Amazing!
I actually had a similar interaction once – a fellow traveler and myself had identical laptops, and ended up booting them up together to make sure we had each gotten the correct one back. We were at adjoining gates, so ended up chatting for a few hours while waiting for our respective flights. This may be the only good thing to have ever come out of airport security!
Another time, on a flight back from an ACS meeting, I started chatting with my seat mate. She turned out to be a fellow chemist with a fascinating nontraditional career, and we have kept in touch and worked on several projects over the years.
More recently, I was in the grocery store when my cell phone rang. Turns out it was a colleague, who was in the checkout line of that very store and had seen me walk in. I went over to talk to her, and it turned out she had gotten a call just that morning from a potential client. She was not comfortable with part of the project, and seeing me reminded her of my expertise, and how we might be able to work together to meet the client’s needs.
Just a few real world examples of how you never know when you’ll meet someone interesting, or someone who can help you professionally. You need to always be on your best behavior, and act professionally – even when you’re just running out to the grocery store!