March 25, 2019, by Noor Syuhada

Alumni Sharing at Discovering Careers in Health Sciences

On 7 November 2018, Discovering Careers in Health Science – Alumni Sharing was held at the Great Hall, from 2pm to 5pm. It was organised by BMed and PharmNotts, which supported by Careers Advisory Service (CAS).

There were four alumni who had been invited to share their career journey and working experience to the students; Mr. Puvaindran, Regional Pharmacovigilance Compliance Lead from Johnson & Johnson; Ms. Amelia Andrew Nazareth, Senior Product Specialist from Novartis; Mr. Lim Shi Hao, Policy Manager from Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia; and Mr. Muhammad Shahrizal, Product Development Team from Pharmaniaga. It was a fruitful session as the alumni shared their interesting stories and followed by the Q&A session where the students were eager to ask career-related questions. It is great to see our alumni doing great in their career and we want to share some of the beneficial input and useful advice from them to you. Check this out!

Puvain said,

During the interview session, impress the employers with the knowledge that you have. Prior to the interview, connect with alumni that work in that company/ potential employers on LinkedIn, and ask them the tips for interview. Dare to try something new, life is only once — do what you like. Follow your passion. You need to know your skills. Find a job that suits your passion and matches your skills.

Don’t limit yourself to one industry or one department. In fact, you can go out from pharmaceutical industry as there are many industries that you can go to apply your knowledge and skills. Just go and do it!

Amelia said,

I did a couple of internship, 1) research, and 2) marketing. These experiences led me to apply for job in Novartis (in Marketing department). Before graduating, I was thinking whether I wanted to go into research or pharmaceutical industry. I’ve worked in Notts-A-Shop so I guess that’s where I enhance my marketing skill. When you find a job, think of your skills. Your skills should not only limited to your laboratory skills or related to your course, it can be more that that.

Go for internships so that you will know what the job is like, and the industry. As for career path in Novartis, they do hire fresh graduates. Go apply jobs that put ‘fresh graduates are encouraged to apply’, even if they put 1-2 years’ working experience. Go find any other working experience too, such as part-time job.

Working in Novartis, every day is different for me. I meet doctors, pharmacists, nurses, clients and so many people. For the sales job, the core skill is communication. You have to be a people person. In addition, you have to be confident in your products. Carry yourself well and be knowledgeable. You have to learn to be an active listener (e.g. talking to doctors), work independently, and meticulous (e.g. working with numbers, stats). Last but not least, learn to have empathy. Try to put a mindset that — ‘it’s not only about numbers but this drug helps to cure people’, and try to put yourself in other people’s shoes who need this drug.

Shi Hao added,

Over the years, healthcare environment evolves rapidly, and so does the job opportunity. The roles can be changing based on the market demand. All of you must aware that it is very important pharmaceutical products in the market must meet the requirements of safety and advocacy, and therefore the regulatory is the most crucial component where they register their products with the local authority, where this product can be accessed by patients in Malaysia.

To work in this industry, these are some skills that you should learn and develop — management skill, leadership skill, communication skill, and entrepreneurship skill. You have to be proactively creating a professional and ethical environment, and to do that, make sure that you identify and work with a good mentor. Healthcare professionals in corporate has an important role in supporting and shaping the healthcare environment.

Shahrizal said, 

I joined the pharmaceutical company with no background at all — went for the interview, then an hour later got offered, and accepted it. My responsibility revolves around two main focus; Product Development (R&D) and Pilot Batch Up-scaling. Working in a R&D department allows me to be in-charge of any drug manufacturing process ranging from upstream to downstream processes. This becomes apparent when a new generic drug is to be introduced to the market or there is a need for drug reformulation. Once a drug has passed its lab trials, a bigger batch will be conducted in a commercial manufacturing plant in order to simulate a real-time commercial process.

At first, I was clueless yet I managed to pull it off. I would say that you have to be persevere to face the failure, multitask, creative to overcome the failure, teamwork, and stay positive!

It’s time for Q&A session!

Why do you pursue for Masters?

  • Puvain: For me, it is for career progression. It’s not easy balancing my work, study and personal life. While you are working, it’s good to go for part-time since you are accumulating years of experience, instead of taking a break to do full-time masters. But the end of the day, it depends on how you could cope-up with your schedule, and how you arrange your time.

  • Shi Hao: I did part-time at Nottingham. This is might not applicable to others, and cannot be generalized to other Masters. I’m only focusing on MBA since I took MBA. It depends on how you would want to plan your career progression. MBA is focusing largely on the operational offices; this area would be beneficial to learn with lecturers and through discussion with your classmates, which through experience. If you are in junior position, I don’t think you can participate proactively. However, there’s always an exception. It depends on how the degree itself helps you in career progression.

What kind of experience should we be getting to prepare for the workplace?

  • Amelia: To be active in the University! Not only focusing on your study, or coursework. Delegate your time to join clubs and societies. If your resume only contains about your study, it’s not enough. The employers would want to see what else you do other than study, such as soft skills. Join clubs, meet people, and build your self-confidence.

  • Shi Hao: Organize events, invite speakers and meet the employers. Ask them if they have any job opening. Network!

To know more about their personal stories on career journey, stay tuned for our next post soon! In the meantime, check this out – Puvain’s story!

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