How This Finance Development Program Helped Me Start a Successful STEM Career With A Social Impact

Liam Berry
How This Finance Development Program Helped Me Start a Successful STEM Career With A Social Impact
Sponsored by, Thermo Fisher Scientific

For Saarem, choosing a career wasn’t going to be easy.

As a high-performing finance major, he heard a lot about the different options for ​his career. However, coming from a family of medical professionals, helping people save lives and advance science were basic family values. And as a part of his Muslim upbringing, Saarem says, it’s natural for him to want to help the people around him.

So, how could he find a finance career that would utilize his talents and make a positive impact on the world? The Finance Leadership Development Program at Thermo Fisher—a Fortune 200 science company dedicated to making the world healthier, cleaner, and safer—offered him an opportunity to do just that.

Rotating Through Finance Career Paths—And Making A Difference, Even In The Fight Against COVID-19

Thermo Fisher’s program allowed Saarem to rotate throughout various business areas, roles, and even offices at the company. This might seem like a lot of change, but it was exactly what he was looking for.

“What better way to learn what you want to do than a rotational program? You get four six-month rotations in completely different areas of finance,” Saarem says.

Throughout his rotations he worked in Franklin, MA; Pittsburgh, PA; and at the company’s headquarters in Waltham, MA. His first role was in financial planning and analysis (more commonly known as FP&A) on a site that produced chemical analysis tools. Even in this manufacturing-based role, he could still see the good he was doing.

“Everything at Thermo Fisher goes back to the mission: to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner, and safer,” Saarem says. “One of the business units at my first rotation produced air quality measurement tools, which definitely contribute to those goals.”

As the rotations advanced, so did his skillset–and his ability to do contribute to enabling a better world. A rotation with a team in Pittsburgh starting in February of this year suddenly put him on the frontlines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic: Saarem’s new team was responsible for the sale and supply chain of personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses, doctors, and other front-line personnel.

“For a lot of FLDPs at other companies, you just learn from a process doc and follow instructions,” Saarem says. “When COVID-19 hit, I was given the responsibilities of a senior analyst.”

The impact of his work had never been clearer.

“Finance, a lot of the time people think it’s only about metrics. But understanding that you’re making a difference and helping customers react to a pandemic is extremely fulfilling. Even if I’m working on a financial file, I know that down the road that it’ll help someone like a doctor, or patient on a ventilator, or a family who’s worried about their loved ones,” he says.

Moving Up In His Career, Moving Forward With His Mission

The beauty of a Leadership Development Program at Thermo Fisher is that you can do well in your career while doing good in the world around you. The very same responsibilities that afforded Saarem the opportunity to make a social impact also allowed him to work with senior leaders, learn new skills, and make an impact for the business. No matter the rotation, learning was always a part of the assignment.

“I’m a student of knowledge. This rotational program has really done that for me,” he says. “If you have a hunger for knowledge, then you’re definitely going to be satisfied here. The more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn.”

Saarem and his colleagues making “Science Care Packages” for a local middle school.

And more than just learning, Saarem’s unique work on financial modeling helped him land a new type of role after his last rotation. He’ll be returning to his first office, where his manager will lead a team that gives company leaders more visibility into FP&A. But even though the program is over, Saarem still expects to grow at Thermo Fisher.

“The great management is why I’m going to the Franklin office,” Saarem says. “My manager did an awesome job of managing talent and developing talent. She would give me challenging work, but she’d guide me or push me enough that I could learn how to do things on my own and produce results.”

And whether those results were driving the bottom line forward—or the mission—Saarem could be confident in his career choice.

Want to make your mark and develop your career? Check out open opportunities at Thermo Fisher on WayUp!