Executive Sales Representative - Diabetes Specialist
For a career in medical sales you have to be able to communicate with your customers and develop rapport. Varuna
So, what do you do?
I promote the company's products to healthcare professionals which include general practitioners, nurses, practice managers and retail pharmacists.
What qualifications and experience do you have?
I have a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology from King's College London. I did A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics
What does your typical day involve?
Often the day starts with a card drop in surgeries to which I return after morning clinic to see if I can ‘spec ‘ a customer. In addition there will be appointments with GPs and nurses and a couple of times a week there will be a lunch meeting where I get the opportunity to present to a surgery. In addition there will be visits to the hospital which can be either morning or afternoon depending on when the customer’s clinic ends..
How has your career developed since you left university?
I briefly worked for two other companies before joining my current company. Initially I was based in primary care however now I cover secondary care as well. Over my career I have been involved briefly with marketing and market research however I am a career representative and find this field suits me best.
When and why did you decide on a career in the pharmaceutical industry?
I wanted to find a career that made use of my degree. My father was a consultant paediatrician and he initially suggested the role of a medical sales representative. Once I spent a day shadowing a rep I realised this was, for me, a much more preferable alternative to working in a lab.
Do you work mostly on your own or as part of team?
I work as part of a team with 1 other colleagues who I meet up with once a week to discuss our objectives for that week. However a sales representative's job entails spending significant time on your own, whether on the road or waiting to see customers. This is an aspect of the job which some people find difficult to deal with.
What is it like socially where you work?
In one sense being a medical rep can be a very social job as you are hoping to meet customers every day however unlike an office you are on your own generally so it is very important to be okay with that too.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I have achieved the highest level (executive sales representative) within my current role. In addition to this, I have in my time come 1st in the company for performance however at this stage in my career I am most proud of the help I provide for my area team especially the new starters… the job can be quite intense initially and it is important that newbies have someone to look to for guidance.
Do you think additional qualifications or experience would be an advantage for someone entering the industry now?
Having a science degree is not a requirement but helps significantly in the understanding of the nature of this industry – however just as important is any experience which develops interpersonal skills and organisational skills. A career in medical sales will put you in front of different types of people on a daily basis and it's important to have the ability to communicate with these customers and develop rapport.
Additional qualifications will definitely help if looking to progress in career into a division such as Medical Affairs, where postgraduate qualifications are almost always a requirement.
What possibilities are there for your career in the future?
There are many opportunities within my company, from field-based roles such as hospital sales (which covers a number of therapy areas including some specialized roles like ophthalmic and HIV); healthcare which involves working at the primary care trust (PCT) level; sales management (managing a region of sales reps), or head office roles such as marketing, business planning and training.
Working for a large company means there are many career pathways. Within my own division of sales and marketing there are opportunities to working as an access lead with customers from the CCG, or as a key account manager selling specialist products in hospitals.
What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role to have?
Self-motivation, confidence, and an understanding of both people and the NHS.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone seeking a career in the pharmaceutical industry?
Spend as much time researching the industry and if possible, try to spend a day or two shadowing someone who works in the industry as that's the best way to gain some kind of understanding about what a career in the industry will entail.
What’s the biggest difference between working in academia and the pharmaceutical industry?
The key difference is the many options you have to progress in terms of a career and to develop different skill sets within the pharmaceutical industry compared to academia.