Career Advice-CRO vs Pharma

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Career Advice-CRO vs Pharma

Postby S. Balla » Wed Jun 03, 2015 1:28 am

Thanks in advance for reading this.
I am in desperate need for some career advice. I joined a global pharma as a CRA2 in Jan 2015 as part of a flexi programme (meaning I am outsoruced and not headcount). While I enjoy the prestige of working with a global pharma and global studies with very interesting compounds, I can't help but feel/think that it's dead end in terms of career progression. While I am getting great experience, I wonder if I should go back to CRO world for the room to grow? I am afraid to make the wrong move which could affect my career. However, I am not 100% happy and seeking more variability in day to day tasks.

Any advice or similar experience will be hugely appreciated.


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Re: Career Advice-CRO vs Pharma

Postby D.X. » Wed Jun 03, 2015 5:06 am

Hi -

You didn't give any insights into why you feel its dead end. So with that caveat, take my advise as general.

It appears you were in a CRO before per your sentence "go back to CRO world?" Then in that case you would know what it means to be in a CRO?

Outside of those questions, in general, at the start of career in the absence of Pharma experience the CRO can provide rapid learning experiences by virtue of higher work loads and multiple simulataneous projects that often require many hands on deck. You are carrying Pharma experience, so you are the client. In the CRO, you would have to then engage in the element of "client management".

From my perpective, being in a Pharma - I would prefer to be the client contrast to the vendor. Being on the vendor side (CRO) does have work quality of life implications, i.e meeting the demands of the client as you are the main "executor".

In general, whereas a CRO is a good starting point for potential rapid experience gathering and growth, most have the goal insight to be in Pharma (see my comment on work quality of life). Yes, the work load is still high in Pharma but as mentioned its the choice of being the client vs. vendor - I'd always choose being the client if I continue to have a choice in the matter.

Given you are already in a Pharma, why not keep evaluating opportunities in Pharma while at the same time keeping yourself open to CRO opportunities - with Pharma opportunities being more prioritized for evaluation? Any job can be perscieve be a dead end, its really how you control it. I know a former CRA who now is head of a Medical department in a Big Pharma. And another who is in a Drug Safety Leadership role, not to mention some others who have grown in the ranks of Clinical Trial Operations and Clincal Development.

Good luck,

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Re: Career Advice-CRO vs Pharma

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:27 am

There is much that I would agree with in DX's post in response. However, one point that wasn't made is that being a "temp" (you refer to your position as a contract role as opposed to "headcount") you are specifically in a temporary position. No one ever does well long-term as a temp. It's a dangerous situation -- you can get caught up, thinking that this is the way that jobs work, when in reality you are an outsider. You're right -- there's no clear career path for a person who is not actually a part of an organization. As an outsider, you will likely not progress and your employment will only be at the whim of the company and their path for a particular product.

I would say that a full-time role in a CRO would be better than a temp position in a pharma company, for career purposes that is. Your colleagues at a CRO would probably likely admit (as DX states) that the job in the pharma is a better one. And you could certainly get there again, but the next time you land in a Pharma company, with more experience under your belt I'd bet that you'll be a full-time, permanent staff member.

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. Everything worth fighting for unbalances your life.”- Alain de Botton
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Re: Career Advice-CRO vs Pharma

Postby D.X. » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:59 am

Hi all,

Sorry, I didn't pay attention to the contractor status.

Agree 100% with David here. Speaking from personal experience as a prior contractor and as a spot where I have been worked with out-sourced non-FTE colleagues.

David is correct, there is no clear career path for an "outside" worker - there is greater risk in moving from contract to contract rather than being hired full-time within your current pharma. Also in the longer term, being a contractor unfortunately weighs negative (despite good experience that can be obtained) when competing for jobs.

Far often many companies offer contractor positions with the lure that the position can become permanent, becareful here. I've seen a few get stuck here.

So I agree with David, in your situation full-time permanent position in a CRO is better than a contractor role in a pharma.

This is not to negate for others that a contractor role can have a place in career development - certainly I did it very briefly, but that's the key point, kept it brief go in to get an experience and try to move on rapidly to a permanent role (once you've accumulated the experience and expertise that was desired).

Good luck!!

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