Every day is a school day for Chris

By Chris Maguire, pharmacist and marketing manager at Beckton Dickinson

I studied pharmacy at Queens University, Belfast.

I completed my pre-reg in community pharmacy, in a small chain, in the same town I went to school. Once I had finished, I did a few locums for the same company and was offered a relief position. I had friends in England who told me about the offers they’ve been receiving. I was tempted…and made the move to the “mainland”. I applied for few jobs and got one with Lloyds pharmacy, living in Liverpool. I moved from relief manager, to pharmacy manager to cluster manager. I was really enjoying work and career progression, but I had always wanted to travel so I took a career break for a year and travelled.
I even got to work in a hospital in Sydney for 6 months of my 14 months adventure.

When I came home, I got a job at Interface Clinical Services, working in primary care. Delivering services such as osteoporosis, diabetes and asthma reviews. Again, I started making my way up – from service development, to a national lead pharmacist.

I managed a team of 90 pharmacists running reviews, clinics, hospital work and made sure they were trained.  I had always been focused on delivering care based on NICE guidance or the latest evidence in disease areas.
I think that with more responsibility, pharmacists can help make a change on a bigger scale.

In my roles in primary care, I learned how clinical systems work in GP land, how the mechanics of QOF work.  I strongly believe that with up-skilling pharmacists to be experts in specific disease areas and pharmacy integration we can create better primary care services. 

I’d been working on a diabetes service specifically for quite a while and think there is so much more pharmacists could do.  It was because of my experience in primary care that I was approached by industry to join as a project manager and help to deliver value based health care. A concept where value is the outcome for the patient over the cost. I thought this was an amazing opportunity to help on a bigger scale and to gain experience in industry.

I had been approached by industry before with an MSL opportunity. I looked into their portfolio, their evidence, the guidelines and felt that it wasn’t a good fit and I couldn’t hang my pharmacist hat on that. So, I stayed with Interface for another 2 years, gaining more experience and exposure working with federations, CCGs, hospitals, AHSNs, NICE and others. It’s not always how fast you can get to the new job but going for the right job.

After working for a year as a project manager, I applied for a marketing manager job. I didn’t have any experience in marketing, but I do understand how the NHS and the supply chain works.  I understand how the use of data can help improve outcomes, which helped me get the job! I’ve now also enrolled on a course to become CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) certified at diploma/degree level to make sure I have all the basics and grounding needed.

Every day is a school day! 

Find out more about how to get a job in pharmaceutical industry

Do you need prior industry or research experience?

The Biopharmaceutical and life science sector can be quite conservative so having experience and some knowledge of the sector will help if you want to join the industry. The larger companies will look to take calculated risks so any “extra” comfort that you can offer regarding your experience, skills and understanding that match the sector, and the role, will help differentiate you from those without it.

Draw on your experience of the science and pharmacology and any additional insight you have from dealingwith the public and healthcare provision. If you are new to the biopharma sector then it would be time well spent to make contact with those who have already enjoyed time in the sector or those who have recently joined the industry.

Tap into your networks of contacts via social media, the RPS, and see if you can grab a coffee, skype or phone call to explore the industry and roles that interest you. See if you can also attend some events to bring you into contact with relevant individuals and businesses. The industry has many support associations and recently they have come together under the banner of United Life Sciences (ULS), a strategic partnership representing over 1100 life science and healthcare organisations across the UK and internationally. These associations offer resources, events, tips, news, statistics and access to positions and leaders in the sector.

ULS was formed a few years ago by the BioIndustry Association (BIA), Bionow, BioPartner UK, One Nucleus (ON) and MediWales.

https://onenucleus.com/ (Cambridge)

https://www.bioindustry.org/(London)

https://www.mediwales.com/(Cardiff)

https://www.bionow.co.uk/home.aspx (Manchester)

Big pharma is represented by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (they share a floor with the BIA in Victoria, London).

http://www.abpi.org.uk/ (London)

Medium sized biopharma is connected to the Ethical Medicines Industry Group

http://emig.org.uk/ (London)

Scotland is covered by Life Sciences Scotland https://www.lifesciencesscotland.com/

LinkedIn is the best social media platform for business related follow up so make sure your profile is up to date and you highlight the skills and experience you have that fits the sector. Try to find people that work at the companies you are interested in to get an insider’s view and see if you can get a warm introduction to someone who can open a door for you. In addition if you are able to find out about the values of the company and put together some examples of when you have genuinely exhibited those in your work this will be well received.

The industry is constantly changing and evolving so keep up to date with the news flow. No company takes new molecular entities (NMEs) from pre-clinical drug discovery to launch without multiple collaborations, partnerships and alliances so giving examples of when you have successfully managed projects, and people, who are not under your direct influence or control will leave a positive impression and is seen as a key leadership skill.

Similar understanding how convergence technology, data science, AI, machine learning and digital health is impacting the sector is a good conversation topic.

In blog 3 we will look at what you can expect once you make the step into industry and what sort of career pathyou can choose

Read Tarquin’s previous blog:
What opportunities does the pharmaceutical industry offer?

Visit our Industrial Pharmacy careers hub here.

What opportunities does the pharmaceutical industry offer? 

By Tarquin Bennett – Coles
Principle Consultant, Life Sciences EMEA & US at Carmichael Fisher

According to figures from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) the biopharmaceutical industry the number of pharmaceutical enterprises has been increasing since 2010.  According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), by 2015 the number of enterprises operating in the UK was 573 (manufacturer of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations). The number of employees in the UK working in the sector in 2016 was 63,000 with 24,000 dedicated to R&D. 

The scale of the sector means there are opportunities for new joiners at all levels covering lab based positions to externally focused sales positions and everything in between. Trained pharmacists and technicians will already have a knowledge of the pharmacology of drugs and in many cases will have dealt with questions from patients and the public that will give them insight into the benefits and challenges of developing new drugs, supply chain, compliance and convergence of digital health technology with the sector.   Read more What opportunities does the pharmaceutical industry offer?