Dr. Jose Cerrato talks about how he found his purpose through a lifelong process. He never knew he wanted to be a professor.
Jose spent some time at Virginia Tech and Washington University in St. Louis. As a graduate student and postdoc.
He just earned tenure at University of New Mexico. We ask him to reflect on the competing priorities when he started his job. What is the first step to take? Spend some time on yourself. Lay out your purpose and your vision. This allows you to say yes to the things that lead you forward in your strategy.
Jose discussed how becoming your own person is the biggest challenge you will face becoming a professor. He believes you should spend time on this first and foremost.
We discuss the concept of personal branding and how he was told to brand his lab by mentors and during his job interviews. His group is branded as the EH2O group. For him it is important to be broad enough so the students and collaborators identify with it. He also gives more specific advice about how to brand yourself if you feel like you will be scooped. This involves developing three strategic areas for your vision.
Branding also helps with group synergy and culture. Jose talks about how he treats his group as a small business with a big human and educational element driving it. He also assigns leadership and empowers his group based on his management style.
Jose stresses not to force a personality on yourself to run your group. Be authentic.
He also discusses how to encourage a good group dynamic of helping.
He also has a intentional late-night approach to conferences where he creates collaborations and close connections with other scientists.