Project Manager - Pharmaceutical Industry

What do you do for a living?

Project Manager for Pharmaceutical Company

How did you get interested in what you do?

When I was at school I wanted to study medicine.  I did not achieve the grades, so decided to study Pharmacology as I was really interested in developing new medicines.

I discussed this with my guidance teacher at school, who suggested that I study Pharmacy. 

At the time I thought that being a Pharmacist meant working behind the counter in Boots and this did not seem so exciting.  I now know that Pharmacy and Pharmacology are actually very similar degrees and if I had studied Pharmacy I would actually have had more options in my career choice, but I really enjoyed my course and love what I do now, so this is not a problem.

What was your journey to reach the role you are in today?

I did a BSc (hons) in Pharmacology at Edinburgh University, followed by a PhD in Neuroscience at Edinburgh University. 

My PhD was sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Company GSK so part of my time was spent in the labs at GSK.
This gave me the opportunity to have experience working in a Pharmaceutical Company, which I really enjoyed, so I decided that I wanted to further my Career in a Pharmaceutical Company rather than in Academia.

I then did Post-Doctoral work for 2 years at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia for a Pharmaceutical company called Amrad, which focused on trying to isolate the active ingredients from Aboriginal Medicines.

On returning to Scotland I started working for a Contract Research Company.  I started as a Study Director, managing studies in the Pharmacology department and progressed within this department to be the Associate Director over a period of 10 years.  I was then offered a transfer into the Project Management team, which I really enjoyed as this allowed me to gain experience in other aspects of the Drug Development Process. 


Talk us through a day in your life

My job is very varied, which I really enjoy.  I am currently managing 3 products which are Commercially available (they are sold all over the world),
a tablet for breakthrough pain in cancer, a testosterone gel for testosterone deficiency in men and a cream for anal fissures (not very glamorous!) in
addition to a new product which is being developed (in clinical trials) for blood cancer.

My job is to liaise with all the different departments (Manufacturing, Quality, Regulatory Affairs, Clinical, Marketing, Commercial, etc) to ensure
that the Projects stay on track with respect to timelines and budgets.  I organise regular team meetings to discuss and review the project progress and
to deal with any problems which may arise and I provide reports to the Senior Management team on Project Progress.


Was this your planned career when you were 18?

At 18, I was really not sure where my degree would take me at all, but its worked out quite well.

What did your parents want you to do?


What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Biology, Chemistry and Maths are probably key to a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry, however there are many different types of jobs
within the Pharmaceutical Industry so (for example) if you particularly enjoyed English and Biology then an option of  Medical Writing may be something you might be interested in.

Look for opportunities to gain experience in laboratory/scientific work over the holidays.

What other career directions could you go in?

There are a wide variety of different directions my career could go, as a Project Manager I have a good understanding of how the different functions work.