Article by Mark Watling
My work as a pharmaceutical physician at tranScrip has been characterised for me by three principal features: Variety, Flexibility and Reward.
One of the hallmarks of the work of any specialist is the tendency for the range of one’s work in any one period to be rather restricted. If you are employed in the early phase development of a new product, your life tends to revolve around pretty much nothing else but that molecule, that mechanism, that target indication. Naturally, over the course of a career, pharmaceutical physicians tend to move around – company to company, function to function, therapeutic area to therapeutic area – a process that gradually extends their breadth of experience and thus their utility.
I have found in the 10+ years I have been at tranScrip, this growth has been much accelerated, and my work has varied widely in terms of lifecycle phase, functional area, therapeutic area, geography – a total of around 40 different projects covering some 60 different products, at seniority levels ranging from clinical research physician to interim CMO. Not only has this kept me interested, but it has also hugely increased the breadth and depth of my experience – something that is never bad for one’s career!
Another aspect of this is that our clients often come to us because no-one has direct experience of their particular molecule or novel indication, and the evident transferability of our capabilities makes my colleagues and I the best possible means of filling that gap – and gives us the opportunity to develop our knowledge base into exciting new areas.
Thus, any one day may find me chairing a clinical development team’s operational meeting trying to move the client’s only candidate into the clinic for the first time, reviewing clinical aspects of another client’s BLA submission documentation, writing up a ‘due diligence’ report advising a private equity firm on the merits (or otherwise) of the data supporting a purported investment opportunity – the possibilities are practically endless.
Working from home is something that many more of us have had to get use to over the last year, and it undoubtedly has its drawbacks for those who need more direct human contact – but it is something that I have always relished for the flexibility it affords in scheduling and performing my work. This ranges from dropping one client’s non-urgent report in order to deal immediately with another client’s urgent Regulatory questions, to deciding to pop out to do the week’s shopping or deal with the laundry during a quiet hour on a Thursday morning…
Naturally, conflicts between ‘fixed’ items (like team telecalls) do arise – often with somewhat hilarious results – but clients are generally very understanding about such matters, appreciating that my availability on a flexible, part-time basis for them inevitably means that I have other projects with which to deal.
All this gives me a greater sense of control over my work schedule than I ever had when employed full-time on one project and enables the maintenance of a far better work/life balance, for me. I generally have 2 - 3 projects ongoing at any one time (a few ‘solo efforts’; more as part of a larger tranScrip team) – plus the ad hoc interactions with my tranScrip colleagues when we seek support/advice from each other (another rich source of variety and interest).
Apart from the obvious economic benefits of being part of a thriving company that has such a wide and stable client base, some very important benefits arise in a number of other areas.
The sense of ‘making a difference’ that is enjoyed by the vast majority of pharmaceutical physicians at some time in their careers has been far more frequent and profound for me over the last decade.
From leading/participating in the development of products that represent substantial advances in patient care to guiding major investment decisions, having an impact has been a regular part of my role that I greatly value for the reward and motivation it provides.
An oft-overlooked element that derives from being an ‘external’ team member is the degree of respect I perceive from our clients and their employees.
One of the attractions of using external resource is the ability to ‘flex’ it to meet current needs, and one might be forgiven for thinking this would generate a high degree of insecurity in the contracted individual (I must confess, it does act as a good motivator).
However, almost without exception, I have found that clients are more concerned about losing the valued resource they are hiring than I am of losing the project – I have, after all, others to fall back on! Even when embedded in a project for long periods of time, I am still treated like an expert/specialist – even if I am not so certain that is the case in that particular moment!
Another major benefit for me is the fact that – despite frequently being employed in very senior roles, I am totally immune to the political games that can ensnare the permanent client employee. This is not only much less stressful for me, but I frequently find myself being unofficial adviser/counsellor to client colleagues who feel they can share concerns/bounce ideas off me precisely because they know I have no skin in that particular game…
In summary, therefore, a day in the life of this pharmaceutical physician is varied, challenging, motivating and fulfilling – and I can honestly say that not once, in over a decade, have I regretted my move into this particular environment.