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

From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

Sinead Monaghan, Medical Science Liaison, Sanofi

I graduated with a master’s degree in pharmacy from Queen’s University Belfast.I undertook my pre-registration year in a community pharmacy chain in Northern Ireland. I was employed as a pharmacist manager with the same company post pre-registration year. I spent a further four years as a community pharmacist.

I thoroughly enjoyed this role, especially being a pharmacist tutor. This very much sparked my interest in training others. I had always been curious about alternative pharmacist roles, but felt my knowledge of career paths was limited.

Read more From community pharmacist to Medical Science Liaison

How Sarah became a Medical Science Liaison

Dr. Sarah Anne Goffin, Medical Science Liaison at Sanofi

I come from a family of healthcare professionals and have always been passionate about science, so pharmacy seemed to be a perfect fit for me. 

I undertook my undergraduate at the University of East Anglia between 2006 and 2010 and completed my pre-registration year in 2011. As I worked part-time as a counter assistant in community during my degree I wanted to take the opportunity to increase my experience in hospital pharmacy. 

Read more How Sarah became a Medical Science Liaison

Routes to industry roles

By Tarquin Bennett – Coles, Principle Consultant at Carmichael Fisher

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The Life science sector is a vibrant and constantly changing environment that can suit those who like to take educated risks with start-up ventures or those who want a more secure long-term career within a large organisation. Getting into the sector is still people/connection based so establishing a network and reliable advocates will help you make the first step. If you can find a person you can interact with rather than using an online portal then this will improve your chances. 

Deciding on the right role and company for you will require some due diligence on the company values and culture. Most of this can be achieved online. Glassdoor is a useful tool to see what people say about a business, good and bad.

Nevertheless, having someone you can talk to who actually works at the company you are interested in is even more useful. If you can use your network to help you achieve this,  then it will give you a head start.  

To make the right step also requires some realistic self-assessment.  

You can use online tools for this or If you can find someone you work with and ask them how you come across in meetings or day to day you can find out a great deal about how you are perceived. It is also worth thinking about what motivates you, what will drive you to get up for work or travel a long way for a meeting? Do you like to work in a group or independently? Even at an early stage it is well worth thinking about where you would like to land after the role you are applying for. Having this in mind will help you weigh up the potential of the position now and as part of your broader career aspirations even if they change. 

Some individuals choose to join the sector via a service organisation then move across to biophama or MedTech businesses once they have their network in place. This includes joining life science teams in the large consulting houses (PwC, E&Y, McKinsey etc), boutique players (Huron, Cambridge Consultants, Sagentia), outsourcing businesses like a Contract or Clinical Research Organisations (CROs – IQVIA, Paraxel, Covance etc) or biopharma sales companies.  
 
Others, choose to start out in a corporate setting via the City (equity analysis), private equity or venture capital businesses and then transition across.  

In addition, the emerging data and digital space means some technology players (Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung etc) are moving into the healthcare sector and they require experts with an understanding of life sciences sector so this may also offer a way in.  
Hot areas of growth also include diagnostics & biomarker businesses, AI/Machine Learning, data science and digital health companies. 

Once you have gained some experience, or if you want to make the step immediately, then there are some key skills and experiences that companies most value. If you can highlight these when you apply or at interview then they will help differentiate you and increase your chances of an offer. 

  • Demonstrable track record of success. 
  • Examples of persuasion and influence whilst working outside your area of management control 
  • The ability to prioritise between the urgent and important. 
  • Expertise at working to tight deadlines and dealing with a fast paced environment for service delivery & communication (this should suit all pharmacists). 
  • Project management skills & the ability to switch focus/direction due rapid market shifts or new convergent technologies. 

Right now certain functions and disciplines are in particularly high demand. These include, analytics, data science, informatics, medical affairs and information, toxicology, pharmacology, business development, clinical development, regulatory affairs, market access and pricing and reimbursement. 

Another thing to consider before you join the industry is to choose a location where there is a cluster of companies and sector support businesses already located there. This will increase the opportunity for you to progress and find alternative work if the position does not work out or the company goes through a major transformation or acquisition. In 2019 we are seeing some major merger and acquisition activity. Most successful clusters (Cambridge, London, Oxford, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Cardiff etc) will also have good transport links, access to funding streams, academic and research hubs, hospitals and service businesses nearby.  

Once you make the step do remember you are likely to be joining a sector where there will be five generations in the workplace (Gen Z – 18yrs old in 2018). Each generation defines success and working habits with a slightly different perspective so it is worth considering that if you are working in a cross-generational team or have a line manager from a different era. 

In terms of what lies ahead you have a myriad of choices once you break into the sector so keep checking in on your own plans. Leadership agility is being highlighted as a future “must have” and so is some international experience so if you can add those to your existing skill set, then you will be in a good place to progress. Similarly, there are now more industry collaborations and partnerships than ever before so involvement in such projects will help you stand out. Good luck, you have an exciting future ahead.  

More information

https://www.rpharms.com/development/how-to-get-a-job-in-the-pharmaceutical-industry

What is a Qualified Person (QP) and how can I become one?

What is a Qualified Person (QP)?

QPs assure the quality of our medicines, so it’s important they’re well trained and fully understand how pharmaceuticals are manufactured.

As a QP you’ll be legally responsible for certifying batches of medicinal products before they’re used in clinical trials or available on the market. You’ll also need to understand the factors that can affect the safety of medicines and supply chains.

Read more What is a Qualified Person (QP) and how can I become one?

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? 

How pharmacy shaped the fizzy drinks industry

Jodie Williamson MRPharmS, Pharmacist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Jodie Williamson MRPharmS

by Jodie Williamson, Pharmacist and Professional Development and Engagement Lead at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales.

I’m sure many of us have enjoyed the occasional fizzy drink over the Christmas period, but did you know that pharmacy was instrumental in developing this industry? 

 

Soda – the fountain of health? 

During the late 19th Century soda fountains were a common feature of chemists’ shops across America. Pharmacists would create syrups, often with medicinal properties, and mix them with soda from the fountain. In 1876 Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires created his blend of root beer, Hires’ Root Beer, which claimed to give “New Life to the Old Folks, Pleasure to the Parents and Health to the Children”. Read more How pharmacy shaped the fizzy drinks industry

My experience as an RPS English Pharmacy Board member

Sharon Buckle is Vice Chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board and a Pharmacy Manager for Boots.

In June 2012 I was delighted to be elected onto the English Pharmacy Board. I was so honoured and so determined that we would be a bold, decisive and happening board, making a difference for our Profession.

If I could sum up in 3 words what is required of a board member, I would cite three characteristics:

  • Passionate
  • Persistent
  • Pragmatic

I made 3 pre-election pledges:
1/ to push for the sharing of patient records with pharmacists
2/ to fight for decriminalisation of single dispensing errors
3/ to raise the profile of pharmacists with Government, politicians and medics

In 2018 we are well on the way to delivering all three! Read more My experience as an RPS English Pharmacy Board member

No you don’t need a PhD to pursue a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry!

Professor Luigi G Martini FRPharmS, FEIPG, Chief Pharmaceutical Scientist for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

Nor do you need to have done an Industrial pre-registration programme either! These are the two most commonly cited questions, or should I say myths, which are often directed at me.

So I have taken the opportunity in this blog to dispel a few myths as follows:

1) You do not need to have a PhD to work in industry, but it does help if you want to work in Research and Drug Discovery. However, there are many roles in Product Development, Manufacturing and Commercial which exist for pharmacists.

2) You do not need to undertake a pre-registration year in industry, and with only 11 such programmes in the UK, they are highly competitive and thus restricted with respect to demand. In fact, pharmacists who have trained and worked in community and hospital are highly regarded by the industry.

3) There has never been a better time to join the industry with pharmacists being highly desired for career paths in Medical Affairs, Regulatory Affairs, Pharmacovigilance and Quality Assurance.

Read more No you don’t need a PhD to pursue a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry!