Careers Management

Gail Sampson

Knockbuckle Associates

Be honest, how often do you think of your career long term? With so much changing in the industry on a day-to-day basis, the likelihood is the night before your annual appraisal – if not in the car on the day of it! For many people, the pharmaceutical industry has afforded a rewarding career, without the need to plan, but times are changing, and the more aware of your career and your potential, the better placed you will be to deal with the changing pharma environment and the changing working environment globally.

Careers Management – what is it?

“Jobs Are Owned by the Company, You Own Your Career.” Earl Nightengale.

Careers management is an ongoing strategy whereby you assess your current skill set and look at the opportunities which this affords you to help you see where your next career move may be. If you like the look of the path you are on – happy days – but what if you are not? Nightengale argues that “the driving forces of a career must come from the individual.”

To get a solid insight to your marketplace, it is essential to conduct research into the pharma industry, the local market and also the markets in which you would be prepared to work. By gleaning insider knowledge, you will be able to benchmark your own career against the skills which are effective there now – and indeed against those which are lacking.

“For many people, the pharmaceutical industry has afforded a rewarding career, without the need to plan, but times are changing…”

How do you get started?

This is often the hardest part – but in all honesty – quite simple – talk to people! Whether you meet people at conferences, award ceremonies, external training days – engage with them! This is the richest source of information you can harvest and it can pay dividends. Connecting with them on Social Networking sites, such as LinkedIn, can a) keep you in touch, but b) give you valuable access to the career paths which they have followed and are indeed on offer in other companies! Your internal colleagues are also a rich source of information – casual conversation will help you discover similarities and differences which can give you some indicators of the sort of roles which you may, or may not be suitable for!

What sort of information is useful to me?

Regulatory changes

One of the benefits of working in such a regulated industry, is new legislation is always posted well in advance, so issues of a compliance nature are normally covered adequately through your company’s training department. Pay attention in these courses and try and imagine how the changes will grow and how that will affect your current role and / or department – will this shape your next career move?

New trends such as social media

There is a huge level of debate surrounding the pharma industry and its use of Social Media – the industry will have to evolve – it cannot afford to avoid it for much longer – so have a play around with it on a personal level – do you like it? Could it help your role? Could its use benefit doctors, patients etc? Obviously, anything you undertake which is at all in your professional capacity needs to be vetted, but an understanding of these new trends – and your personal adaptability to them, will help you shape where your career will go.

“…the more aware you are of what you are good at, the more aware you will be of where you need to invest to improve!…”

Core competencies

These are usually only considered at appraisal time, but the more aware you are of what you are good at, the more aware you will be of where you need to invest to improve! For example, organisational and planning skills are essential competencies for a Project Manager role, so if you have neither, but harbour plans to go this way, start working on them – as they will be assessed at interview for such a role. Whilst speaking with people, start listing your own competencies – in doing this, new ideas for your next role may present themselves.

To help boost your competencies, have a look at secondments which may present themselves – this is a great way to keep your current role open, whilst adding some new skills to your CV. Taking on additional responsibilities on key projects in a less formal way, can also assist with this.

Realistic goals

Being aware of the natural parameters of certain roles can also help you decide on the route to follow. If you wish to manage a team, there are certain roles where this will not happen in and others, not until you have proved yourself over a long period of time – does this suit you? If not, what proactive steps can you take to alter your career path? It may be you need to refocus on the job function you are working in, to get the man management experience you feel is right for you.

The world outside pharma

One of the most frequent questions we find ourselves being asked, is about transferring to suppliers to the Pharmaceutical industry. This is a very personal choice, but the above principals can be applied to see if this route is the one for you. For every person who has successfully made the move, someone else will have decided to go back, but as the market changes, there could be more and more opportunity for Pharma professionals to make their mark outside of the core industry.

“…what you are aiming for is your perfect career which will deliver you the professional and personal satisfaction which is important to you…”

Which job do you not want to do?

If all of this sounds daunting, ask yourself which job you would like to do least, and the reasons why – that can often help you start planning!

Careers Management does not need to be a long and drawn out process – in fact the quicker and more succinct, the more likely you are to stick to it and the more successful it will be! However, it is a process which should be ongoing to get the most out of it. Remember, there is no such thing as the perfect career – and no two career paths are the same – what you are aiming for is your perfect career which will deliver you the professional and personal satisfaction which is important to you.

About the author:

Gail Sampson is the Managing Director of Knockbuckle Associates. Knockbuckle Associates is a Recruitment and Training consultancy working within the Pharmaceutical, Biotech and Health Care sectors. Based in Surrey, they work year round with their clients and candidates providing a transparent, efficient and bespoke recruitment services – incorporating search and selection, contingency and online recruitment solutions.

Their training and outplacement division offers tailor made and off the shelf workshops in the practical side of recruitment – interviewing and recruitment strategy for recruiting teams and / or line managers and for those under consultation an in depth look at careers management and job seeking in the 21st century.

What is your perfect career path?