Top Traits of Tech Transfer Executives

As one of the top executive search firms in the technology transfer sphere, we source for a lot of world-renowned research institutions. To know what the client is looking for in these key leadership roles, you can read our job specification documents but there are often things not mentioned in the position description that make the difference in standing out from the other candidates. These are some of the things our clients are looking for when they are interviewing tech transfer executives.



You won’t find this on a resume but heads of technology transfer departments need to be able to build instant rapport with groups of all types – from investors to university donors, researchers to patent attorneys, and everyone in between, a technology transfer department answers to many people. Someone who’s leading that group must be able to connect with a variety of minds with different agendas.



Tech transfer executives will always be selling, selling her department, selling research, selling ideas, selling a budget, and much more. The art of persuasion is a critical skill to these roles. A leader of the tech transfer department is an advocate for that department, the university, its faculty, and its research.



There’s a certain level of polish that is expected from the public persona of research at the university and as the head of tech transfer, that’s what you are to investors and people in the commercialization process. Your face and presence is synonymous with the institution you represent. When people are hiring for this positon, they are casting you in a role. They will want to make sure you are a good fit and represent them well.



Executive leaders of technology transfer are adept at recognizing opportunities: opportunities for meetings and “chance” encounters with corporate funders; opportunities to gain greater insight into research and the researchers behind the discoveries; and recognizing commercialization opportunities with the greatest benefit to the research organization. While some of this comes from an innate instinct, much of it is learned over the course of a career. As the head of a technology transfer office, one begins to understand corporate and university needs and is able to create situations where both sides benefit.

Making the jump from licensing manager to heading up a technology transfer department is a large one. You must hone your instincts, grow broader shoulders and develop thick skin. But with that, and these suggestions, you’ll be ready.

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