5 Insights Into Working in the Pharma Industry

Pharma industry insights

It’s very common for scientists to wonder what working in the Pharma industry would feel like. This feeling can be especially strong if you have been in academia for a while. You may want to shift from academia to industry but are unsure about whether your experience would be any better. You may have just completed your Bachelor’s degree and know that you want a career in a science-led industry. Pharma seems like a good prospect. The Pharma industry can be a good option to retain your research skills but in a different environment. Or it can give you the opportunity to do a more commercially focused role. Whatever your motivations and aims, there are factors that make working in the Pharma industry a specific type of environment. And it is definitely a change from the academic environment.

Here are some insights to help you make a move into working in the Pharma industry:

  1. The real-world impact and application of your work

When working in the Pharma industry, you are contributing to work that impacts the lives of patients and consumers. You might be working on a specific disease area where the motivation to develop solutions is high. In this environment, you will interact with colleagues who may have a personal connection to this area. There are many different factors that drive people to choose to work in the Pharma industry. Impact on patients is a big one. This is something that you will see embedded in a Pharma company’s strategy. It will be a big driver of your objectives in your work. You will have a bigger picture view of how your work has an impact in the real world.

  1. You need to develop a commercial mindset

No matter what role you do when you are working in the Pharma industry, you need to develop commercial acumen. Remember that you won’t be working in isolation at any point. This is true even if you are the sole person working in your area of expertise. You are always part of a chain leading up to a product being commercialised and sold to a person. There may be certain targets that you have to work to. This is likely to be embedded in your objectives. You may find this different to working in academia if you were driving your work with no numerical targets to meet.

  1. Interaction with different departments will increase

In relation to the point above about being part of a chain of groups who are working to get a product to market, this means you will inevitably be speaking to a variety of people as part of your job. This is especially true if you are part of a large pharmaceutical organisation. In order to do your job effectively, you need to understand how other departments work, and where your role fits in to the wider scheme. It is crucial to know where your work sits in the chain of events that gets a drug to market, and how you contribute to this. You should learn what happens before and after your involvement in the process. This means your daily work is likely to involve meetings with your wider team, department, and cross-functional interactions with members of other departments.

  1. There will be more focus on career development

When you move into industry, you will feel like there are a wealth of opportunities at your door. The number and type of roles you will encounter can be both overwhelming and exciting. You will discover jobs that you didn’t even know existed. There will be a lot of jobs that allow you to combine both business and scientific skills. This may get you thinking about your future career opportunities and how you can develop the skills and experiences to get there. As a result you will have to think about the development of your soft skills, and whether you need more support and training in this area. It’s vital to consider your developmental needs throughout your career, and make sure you include soft skill development such as communication, interpersonal skills, influencing and strategic thinking alongside keeping up with technical knowledge.

  1. You will have a wider set of tasks to complete

Whilst working in the Pharma industry, you will suddenly become part of a huge machine that requires a lot of administration to run. It is everyone’s job to make sure the machine keeps running, and it will therefore be part of your role to undertake administrative tasks alongside your core work. You are also likely to attend many more meetings as part of your daily schedule. Some people may find this variety in their day makes their work more enjoyable. For others, the administrative side of the job is not so interesting. In every job you will have tasks to do that you may not enjoy, so it’s important to consider what most of your work will be focused on. This is where it would be valuable to talk to someone who is in the role you want to be doing, to find out more about what their day-to-day actually entails.  

Working in the Pharma industry can be a very rewarding, varied and exciting role. It’s important to consider what factors you value in your work environment as you decide where to take your career. If you do decide on Pharma, make sure you prepare for a job where you will grow and develop, try reading business articles relevant to the industry to develop your commercial mindset, and when you are in the role, attend wider company meetings like town halls to keep up with the strategic direction of the organisation. For more tips on getting a job in Pharma, see our article on optimizing your LinkedIn profile to get a job in Pharma.

If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, book a Beyond the Lab Breakthrough Session here.


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