I decided that I wanted to continue working in science but wanted a job that was more varied, challenging and involved more working with people. Robert
So, what do you do?
I am a contract manager. I support outsourcing for clinical trials. When we do not have the expertise or capacity to perform certain services, I am responsible for finding, contracting and managing relationships with suitable suppliers.
What does your typical day involve?
This is very variable. My days are split between meeting with customers, who manage clinical trials, meeting with suppliers and working on contracts. I am also involved in a number of initiatives to improve the way that we work for example I am currently working on an IT system to better manage contracts.
Do you work mostly on your own or as part of a team?
As part of a team. As part of my role I need to interface with many different internal and external functions for example legal, finance, quality, study management, senior management, procurement, supplier business development and supplier contracts groups.
How long have you been in your current role?
Ten months, but I have been working in clinical outsourcing for four years.
What qualifications and experience do you have?
A BSc from Southampton University in Physiology followed by a PhD from Imperial College London in Neurophysiology. I have A levels in Chemistry, Biology and Maths.
When and why did you decide on a career in the pharmaceutical Industry?
While working as a laboratory scientist for a university, I decided that I wanted to continue working in science but wanted a job that was more varied, challenging and involved more working with people. The pharmaceutical industry was and still is a perfect fit for me.
How has your career developed since you left university?
After finishing my PhD, I worked for as a laboratory scientist for a university for a year. During this time I decided that I wanted to continue working in science but wanted a job that was more varied, challenging and involved more working with people.
I found, and successfully applied for, a one day per week internship in my university technology transfer office. Whilst doing this I was encouraged to apply for a one year full time program run jointly by the technology transfer company and a pharmaceutical company. This internship gave me the skills to move from a scientific role into a business focussed one. At the end of the year I was offered a job at the pharmaceutical company. I stayed there for two and half years before moving into my current role at another company.
Do you think additional qualifications or experience would be an advantage for someone entering the industry now? What might be valuable?
A science degree is normally needed, but I think that hands on experience is more valuable. For certain roles (not mine) a PhD can be useful.
What is it like socially where you work?
Pretty good. We regularly go for lunch together and occasionally organise social events. In the course of my role I have the opportunity to meet and talk to a wide range of people.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Getting my first job in the pharmaceutical industry, it is a tough transition to make from being a scientist to working in a business role.
What possibilities are there for your career in the future?
A huge number. Within a pharmaceutical company there are hundreds of different possible roles.
What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role to have?
Communication is the key one. But also you need to have skills in prioritising/time management, I work across large number of projects and have to balance their demands. And finally attention to detail.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone seeking a career in the pharmaceutical industry?
Getting some hands on experience is very valuable.