I had worked in commercial roles in the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 20 years. My most recent post was with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in London, where I spent a lot of time doing research behind the sales process. I engaged in exploration of patient behaviours, measuring what they did and did not know about specific diseases or medical conditions, etc. I was part of a customer experience (CX) team that explored patients‘ treatment journeys: from diagnosis to treatment on to how patients handle the emotional and rational aspects of treating their
In early 2014 I learned that my position at GSK would be cancelled based on an internal decision to downsize some operations. However, I didn’t take this news in a negative way. I had just under a year to plan a transition and was certain that I would find a suitable job from among multiple internal roles that GSK had open at the time. Ultimately though, after submitting several applications, the right job match just wasn’t there.
So I took this opportunity to do some thinking and deep reflection on what I wanted to do during the next 20-25 years of my life. Did I want to be self-employed or go the consultant route? Did I want to stay in pharma or move to another industry? Essentially, I used this moment to carry out a detailed self-evaluation of my professional skills and experiences.
Everyone approaches analytical and developmental processes differently. I tend to engage in brain-storming-type assessments. So, once I understood that I would have to look for a new position outside GSK, I went to work making mind maps. I outlined all my skills and experience; focusing particularly on what type of jobs or roles I might find where I could make a true difference for customers and the given organization. With support from my family, I took a month to specify and define that direction of my job inquiry, i.e. what I really wanted to do in the next phase of my professional life. I also took advantage of outplacement support programs arranged by GSK and enrolled in one of their coaching programs. This included one-hour sessions with a professional coach every 3-4- weeks, which gave me important insight into how recruitment processes currently work, how to edit and improve my CV, how to write effective letters to HR departments and how to conduct impactful job interviews. The GSK-arranged support programs also provided other invaluable input that later helped in my job search: lessons in reputation management, using LinkedIn as part of the search process, etc. During the 9-month period for the redundancy package provided by GSK, I even had options to work with counsellors on analysing the pros and cons of corporate vs. self-employment.
For me, the entire transition process lasted 7 months. However, these were seven months full of intense work and development of my personal job search tools. During that time, I sent out 35 applications for positions, where I thought I was a suitable candidate (i.e. roles in commercial sales, medical positions or CX-facing functions). I was strongly interested in jobs, where I could add value and make a real difference. Ultimately, I only interviewed for 5 jobs and got offers for 3 positions; and I used this process – specifically following up on rejections to job applications – to collect insight from various companies. I wanted to learn why my application was passed over or did not move forward. This helped me improve my approach to companies in subsequent applications.
In April 2014, I was contacted by the UK offices of the pharma company, Teva. This was the start of an interesting, professionally-executed interview process that ran for roughly two months, and during which I learned that the roles we envision for ourselves can sometimes be different from those where we can truly succeed. For example, I applied for a role in the UK, but Teva recruiters told me they had a role for me in Amsterdam. Yet ultimately, I didn’t end up in that second role, but rather a third (new) position in their Amsterdam offices. The role was my dream job: one where I got to work in a patient support program, while using my skills in behavioural and economic analysis.
Now I am in a situation where I commute between London and Amsterdam, since my family remained in the UK (due to my wife’s career and our having children still in school). I have been lucky that my family is so open and flexible as regards my career change. Also, I work with a very supportive line manager in my new job, which has helped me better deal with spending time between two cities. Needless to say, the reality of commutes is much different from what it seems to be on paper or how we tend to initially imagine it. Yet, I now have my dream job and I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.
Improve your self-awareness: the transition period allowed me to think not only about what I wanted to achieve in my future professional life, but also about what was/is my maximum future value for employers. I did my best to set up a professional structure for managing the entire application process: noting which companies had received my CV and reassessing where it made sense to follow-up and push for an interview, etc.
Bring clarity to your professional experience: one drawback that surprised me during the search process was the breadth of my personal experience. When asking for feedback from different HR departments and recruiters, they told me they found my professional experience in multiple fields confusing. They asked why I hadn’t chosen to focus on a specific area? Why had I seemingly dabbled in a little bit of everything? This led me to re-focus my CV writing and underscore how different skills or tasks served to fit a specific mission.
Start your job search early in redundancy situations: one lesson that became evident to me quickly in my search process was that I should have begun looking at external positions sooner. In some cases, there are options for internal transitions with your current employer, but this should not be taken as a given.
Understand job search as a learning process: for me personally, doing research and reading books on professional development and even industry trends were critical parts of my transition. I committed myself to not just researching what roles were available, but also to investigating the day-to-day tasks and skills needed for specific positions. At this point in my career, I didn’t want just a job, but a great job! Additionally, I read a number of books on the importance of timing in the job search process.
Learn how to speak impactfully: since many interviews are conducted over the phone or on Skype, I found it very valuable to have consultations with a speech expert. She provided me with great tips on how to speak clearly and with confidence, which words to use, which words to avoid and how to sound authentic. I found this really important for making the right impression over the phone or on Skype.
We are delighted to announce the promotion of Ilinca Pacuraru to Regional Practice Group Leader – Consumer. We are very proud to see ilinca joining the Consultants' team. Her never-give-up attitude and enthusiasm during the most challenging searches are key to success in the Middle East and Africa region. Our customers need that, and we want to support our customers! Says Cedric d'Halluin Emerging Markets Director - Middle East Africa, Russia/CIS, Turkey I am proud to be part of SpenglerFox family, and to work with a team of achievers who continue to deliver excellent results. Thank you very much for your trust, unflinching support and encouragement." Says Ilinca Pacuraru – Regional Practice Group Leader - Consumer
We are delighted to announce the promotion of Federica Pisano to Regional Practice Group Leader – Life Sciences Federica Pisano joined SpenglerFox in September 2014, and since has contributed greatly to the success of the Life Sciences practice in the Middle East Africa region. That success is due to Federica’s responsiveness, efficient service to our customers and a unique care of candidates. Federica lives perfectly our “Care” ethics, a value that SpenglerFox made central to differentiate in the Executive Search industry. Federica is now in charge of the Practice in the region, based out of Dubai. Says Cedric d'Halluin Emerging Markets Director - Middle East Africa, Russia/CIS, Turkey I would like to thank our SpenglerFox family for their support in my recent promotion. During my short time as a consultant I have already learned so much from them. I highly value their trust and continued support, which will be a of great service not only to my success but that of SpenglerFox. Says Federica Pisano – Regional Practice Group Leader, Life Sciences
Why this market is worth a second look. Recently, SpenglerFox’s team managing its services in the Russian Federation held a briefing to talk about market opportunities for companies wanting to invest or do business in the Russian Federation. To this end, we put together a short White Paper in order to provide our Clients and prospective Business Partners guidance on how they can explore new opportunities in Russia. We’ve tried to make the document as succinct as possible in order to provide a clear outline of what the current business environment looks like and what issues you should consider prior to taking a decision to launch a venture in Russia or to expand existing operations in the country. Get arguments to convince your CEO or board members why Russia deserves a second look. Broaden your knowledge of what the Russian market has to offer. Use as guidance for planning a CEO or board visit to the Russian Federation to explore business opportunities (travel to both Moscow and regional capitals). Gather insight on the value provided by top Russian talent and how talent sourcing and search should be done. RussianFed_SF_WhitePaper_InvestNow.pdf Size: 523 KB RussianFed_SF_Highlights_InvestNow.pdf Size: 830 KB