“How can I get a job as a Project Manager in a Pharmaceutical R&D department?”
“How can I get a job as a Project Manager in a Pharmaceutical R&D department?” This is a common question in the Northeast, especially in the Boston market where new Pharmaceutical and Biotech startups are plentiful and the job market is tight. We are currently conducting a survey of Life Sciences companies and this is one of the topics we discuss.
With the data to date, the majority of respondents state that the Project Management function is becoming important as they grow and their products move from Discovery to Proof of Concept. They also state that knowledge and experience with the science is an important requirement for Project Managers. Project Managers need to understand the challenges faced by the team, the regulatory requirements and external variables, and have a basis for understanding how long tasks take, especially when outsourcing functions to external vendors like CROs.
The overwhelming majority of companies will seek out scientist within their employee population “who are ready to move off the bench, but want to stay in touch with the science.” These are usually scientists who volunteer to lead initiatives in the lab and then are coached to take on a formal Project Management role. These new Project Managers tell us that they were “looking for a broader view of the Drug Product Development Life Cycle”. In many cases, the prospective PMs will go back to school and earn an MBA as they take on the new role.
In one early stage development company, they have a different view. They continue to develop scientists who want to move into PM roles, however they will also welcome Project and Program Managers from other industries. These candidates must have business acumen, strong soft skills, and the passion and drive to learn the Life Sciences industry. Several consultants in the survey also predict that we will see more loosening of the requirements as the labor market tightens.
What has been your experience? Please feel free to share your comments.
If you are in a Project Management Leadership position now in the Boston, MA area and would like to take part in our survey, please reach out to John Todd today at firstname.lastname@example.org. Survey respondents will receive a copy of the resulting article. Summary results will be presented to PMI Mass Bay as well at various events and Career Clinics. Support the PM community and participate today!
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