SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

A Thread for Non-Traditional Pharmacy

Discussion in 'Pharmacy' started by Jbrl, Sep 16, 2017.

  1. Jbrl

    Jbrl 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2015
    Given the [understandable] increase in interest in nontraditional pharmacy, I thought we could create a repository here to help people out. If you're a pharmacist or former pharmacist working in a nontraditional role, it would be great if you could provide your thoughts here, however detailed or brief. Ideally I'd like to compile all of this together in a more organized fashion, if there are enough responses.

    For the purposes of discussion, I define non-traditional to mean anything outside the usual retail (chains), hospital (pharmacy staffing and residency-->clinical), and industry (fellowship-->industry) models, so if you went into a direct-to-clinical or direct-to-industry full time role, still would love to hear from you.
    1. What do you do?
    2. What does your job entail, in terms of roles and responsibilities?
    3. How did you enter this field / get your job?
    4. What would you recommend to students and graduates who want to follow your path?
    y0ssarian87 likes this.
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. Jbrl

    Jbrl 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2015
    Well, given the level of interest [or lack thereof], I'll start. Feel free to ask about my path or general questions about breaking into other career paths and I'll be happy to answer, whether it's biopharma, nonprofits, agencies, consulting, venture capital, or something else. I think there's a black box when it comes to the nontraditional paths, so I want to shed some light on them if I'm able.

    I. I'm currently working in business development at a biotechnology startup and will be joining a management consulting firm next year as an PhD level hire.

    II. My role in business development spans a few areas:
    1. Opportunity assessment for market entry in select therapeutic areas. Essentially, where in each space do we play? Subtype A or B? Pre-disease or disease? Acute or ambulatory?
    2. Pitching to investors and collaborators, which include hospital systems, biopharma companies and nonprofit organizations
    3. Determining deal structures for partnerships
    I can't speak firsthand to the consulting piece just yet, but if there are any questions about either generalist or specialist consulting I'd be happy to provide info.

    III. I was not able to secure a fellowship for various reasons. When I graduated, I had a job lined up but had to decline it in order to stay close to home. I actually came across the opening through a biotechnology group job board and figured it wouldn't hurt to apply. I've had a couple pharma internships and had a commercial rotation my P4 year, so I was somehow able to convince the Founder that I'd be value-added.

    IV. There are a few core recommendations I have to those who want to pursue this sort of path (commercial):
    1. Figure out what you want, and speak to people to get an idea of what that entails. There are quite a few paths in commercial to consider, although with plenty of overlap between them. Who can you speak to? Everyone you find! I personally used LinkedIn for almost all of my networking when trying to break into consulting.
    2. Build your overall narrative around what you want. In practical terms, this means building up experiences that relate in some way, shape or form. Excel/PPT skills, programming, biopharma experience, general business/sales experience - all can help create your value story. Same with participating in business competitions and practicing public speaking at Toastmasters. Just some examples.
    3. Go out and find the opportunities! Cold email. Recruiters. Google. LinkedIn. There's a ton of ways to do it that people simply don't utilize - pharmacy students especially. Use whatever resources are at your disposal. For example, not enough people use career services, including me. A consulting firm came to my school to find one person to hire, and they spoke to career services to ascertain who good candidates would be. I'm from a non-target school and they don't typically hire from my school, but some alums wanted to diversify their employee mix, I guess. Career services can only recommend you if they know you!
    I know a lot of this is pretty vague in terms of actionable items, so I can elaborate if anyone finds this useful. I believe that if you're determined enough, you can do whatever you put your mind to.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  4. wucool33

    wucool33 New Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2006
    So did you end up getting a MBA and a PHD? And how can a person that’s already worked in a traditional role for a while now break into these non-traditional role?
  5. Jbrl

    Jbrl 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2015
    I don't have either degree. Your doctorate is enough to take you to interesting places, if you let it.

    If you're an experienced hire and not someone coming out of school, it'll be harder, but still doable. People do one of three things, from most straightforward to least:
    1. Go back to [a good!] school for a Masters degree (MBA, MPH, comp sci, bioinformatics, etc)
    2. Take a pay cut and start lower in the rungs, moving up gradually (contract positions, entry level positions, smaller firms with more ad-hoc/personalized hiring practices)
    3. Leverage existing experiences to make the jump laterally

    For all 3, you need to 1. network and find people who are willing to give you information and/or advocate for you 2. make sure your resume and cover letter are up to snuff. One page, results-oriented. 3. have a convincing story for why you want to switch that does not bleed grass-is-greener syndrome. These are a given, but I do have to stress them. Your relationships will make the process so much easier, so that you aren't applying to 100 positions and only getting 5 callbacks. If you don't have an extensive network of people to call upon, then it's up to you to create it - it is as much a skill as anything else :) I must have cold contacted over 200 people during the course of my journey. You'd be surprised how much people are willing to help.

    To figure out what would work for you, you have to consider your current work experience and see how that transitions over. For example, if you did an onco residency at a well-known center like MSK and work there as an onco pharmacist, you're better positioned for #3 because a) you offer specialty expertise b) I/O and onco are red hot on both the payer and biopharma perspectives and c) MSK is globally renowned. If you work for CVS/Walgreens, then the more straightforward choice is #1 or #2. #3 still doable, but you'll have to find someone who can strongly refer you in and build up a skill set on the side that is applicable to what you're aiming for. Even within consulting, there are different kinds. The work Inventiv/Campbell Alliance does is worlds different from what ZS Associates does.
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2017
  6. jblil

    jblil 7+ Year Member

    Dec 1, 2010
    East Coast
    I am much older than most of you. I have several degrees and have done consulting, both as an employee of a large company (a few years ago, in software/tech) and as a free-lancer (currently, business consulting). A couple of somewhat-obvious things to keep in mind if you want to go into consulting:
    - Hone your communication skills: if you can express your thoughts clearly and concisely, you will inspire confidence. Nothing turns off a client more than a consultant who rambles on and can't make a point;
    - Dress well, even if you're not meeting clients; like it or not, you've got an image to cultivate; you want to project professionalism and competence;
    - This last item is hard to define, but it can make or break you: act mature, by watching your language and mannerisms. I once had a discussion with a young male consultant who told me he never smiled, in an effort to get clients to take him seriously. He came across as a pompous ass, and had I been his client I would have asked his firm to get him out of the engagement team - I'm not going to take seriously a 25-y-o consultant who acts like a funeral home director.

    When you make recommendations to clients, try to use bullet points and have no more than 3 main points. They are easier to remember.
    If you noticed, I had 3 items in this post ;-).
  7. wucool33

    wucool33 New Member 10+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2006

    I see a lot of people talking about a MBA. Even my business friend told me to get one. But which MBA concentration is most useful for a pharmacist in an industry setting?
    And I guess connection is the biggest problem without a MBA. Even if someone is willing to start with an entry level position.
  8. Jbrl

    Jbrl 2+ Year Member

    May 7, 2015
    I very strongly considered getting an MBA during school. Even went as far as taking the GMAT and spoke to many people from both top and middling programs on the merits of one. Connections are a problem, MBA or not, although an MBA is supposed to make the recruiting process easier. And it will, provided you do it right.

    I think, instead of thinking about MBA concentration (I think any concentration will do just fine for biopharma aside from entrepreneurship - it all depends what exactly you want to do), you can think broader. The purpose of an MBA is to do one of two things:
    1. Check the box for moving up within an organization or industry vertical
    2. Provide opportunities for market entry/switching
    You fall into the latter camp. In the latter, an MBA should provide, in order of relevance, a) connections via on-campus recruiting, professors, other students b) credibility/cachet - T50 and below for the pharmaceutical industry, ideally, but the lower the better - for online resume drops and cold networking c) business knowledge to shore up foundational experiences.

    Therefore, be sure that the MBA you shoot for is an MBA that will provide these things. Plenty of PharmDs get an MBA that only provide the knowledge without any of the other two (looking at you, dual degree mills). Of those, a sizeable portion remain in the same place they were before. You don't want that to be you.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
    MindGeek likes this.

Share This Page