Ben

Lean Coach (and registered pharmacist)

With career progression in the industry, you get out what you put in. Ben

​​​​So, what do you do?

As part of a global graduate programme, my current role is working within the external sourcing department. We source API, formulation and packaging materials used in the manufacture of our products and manage how those products make it into pharmacies around the world. 

Our goal within the lean team is to help the department and suppliers to understand what their 'customers' value, and remove waste in how we work -through continuous improvement. We facilitate the solving of problems, creation of improved processes, learning reviews... you name it, we do it!

What does your typical day involve?

Typically there is a request for demand for the team which we'll be assigned to. We work in a 'plan, do, check, act' cycle to ensure that benefits are continually seen with each initiative. This involves running progress meetings, guiding teams through workshops and coaching members to consider new ways to solve old issues.

Do you work mostly on your own or as part of team?

We do both, dependent on the size of the task to hand.  This means working in pairs with larger group sessions or alone in smaller ones.

How long have you been in your current role?

Two months.

What qualifications and experience do you have?

  • A Levels in Chemistry, Biology and Psychology

  • MPharm degree (University of Nottingham)

  • Registered UK Pharmacist

When and why did you decide on a career in the pharmaceutical industry?

While I enjoyed interaction with patients and the public, I felt that I could do more with my five years of pharmacy training.

The variety of roles available in the industry is vast: pharmacists have knowledge of the whole drug development process including manufacturing and marketing through to dispensing of medication.

Working for a company which spans the globe and employs 50,000 people means that there is lots of opportunity to gain business and cultural awareness.

How has your career developed since you left school, college or university?

I was lucky enough to join a graduate programme after my pre-registration training.

This has been a great opportunity to rotate around different business areas over the course of two years in both office and manufacturing environments, with an international assignment integrated into the programme.

I've had roles including working at a manufacturing site in the quality department, managing global projects which affect how we supply medicines around the world, and now my current role in our sourcing team.

Do you think additional qualifications or experience would be an advantage for someone entering the industry now? What might be valuable?

If you want to be a scientist and do cutting edge research, then a PhD or further study is definitely sought after.

In all other areas of the industry my view is that while qualifications are important there's no replacement for interpersonal skills.

A degree will get you considered, as will any other qualification. However, you're only 25% of the way there until your interviewer/future manager sits down with you and realises that you're approachable, friendly and capable.

Once you're into the industry, you'll find that there will be training you can get which is more specific to the role you do.

What is it like socially where you work?

Very sociable - most nights of the week there's something going on which you can meet with people outside of the office environment. 

What are you most proud of in your career? 

Undertaking an international assignment to Sweden as part of my current role. It's giving me a cultural education and shows that the company is willing to invest in my development.

What possibilities are there for your career in the future? 

Personally, I have ruled out research as a future career. I find working with launched or launching products gives me more focus on the patient.

I have opportunities across the industry with the transferrable skills I've picked up so far. I'm currently interested in production – making the products.

With career progression in the industry, you get out what you put in.

What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role to have?

You need to be outgoing, approachable, inquisitive and hard working.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone seeking a career in the pharmaceutical industry?

A CV isn't just qualifications. It's what you choose to do with the rest of your time which speaks much more about you.

If 100 recently graduated pharmacists submit their CV for the same job, how will yours stand out?