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Mistake in Big Pharma?

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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby James » Fri Jan 28, 2005 12:08 pm

Hello Dave,

I have posted on your earlier forum. It has taken me a while but I finally found your new forum.

I accepted a BD position at Big Pharma almost 1 year ago. At the time, I had another offer from a biotech. The package that the Big Pharma was offering seemed significantly better (30% higher salary, mathching 401(k), and basically a $25k relocation payment). The biotech package did include stock options but the salary was 30% lower, no matching contributions to the 401(k) and they were only going to cover a u-haul.

It has almost been a year since I joined Big Pharma and I feel like I may have made a big mistake. This Big Pharma is very procedural and does not foster an entrepeneurial environment. The department is rather large (50+) and I get the feeling it is hard to get noticed.

I declined the offer from the Biotech on very good terms. The COO told me to call him if things did not work out at Big Pharma.

I recently sent him an e-mail and suggested that we should chat and catch-up sometime. He said that he would try to give me a call within the next week. After 2.5 weeks I gave him a call and left a message with his secretary. I know he has been travelling a lot and I do expect him to call back.

If I do speak with him, how should I position the fact that I feel like I made a mistake and if he needed any help, I would like to be considered? I do not want to come across as being flakey, since I have only been here a year. I would like to focus on the positive contributions that I could make. I do have a lot of experience in contract drafting and negotiations. I have closed a wide-variety of deals; everything from patent in-licensing/out-licensing, CRO/CMO deals, Sponsored Research Agreements, Clinical Supply Agreements, consulting agreements, MTAs, CDAs, etc... I also I have a strong financial foundation. Plus, I am very eager to get back to the East Coast.

Sorry for the long post but I am very eager to jump into biotech. I feel like my skills and ambition may deteriorate at Big Pharma. Don't get me wrong, I do think a lot of people would be happy at this job. There is some security, the salary and benefits are good, one could buy a nice house and car, take a couple of vacations a year and still send their kids to college. However, I miss the ability of wearing multiple hats and the dynamics of a small company. Plus, I am not interested in being a politician, though I am always politically correct.

Any advice is appreciated.

Thanks,

James
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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby TF » Fri Jan 28, 2005 12:41 pm

I think alot of what you told us, you should tell the biotech person. I mean you have to be honest with both yourself and your prospective employer. You just didn't mesh with the environment of big pharma.

I think that would give the other guy an opportunity to tell you if he thinks his company would be beneficial to you. I don't think you should be worried about the 1 year thing, as I have heard many types of jobs have a 6 month grace period where it is determined if the job is a good match for yourself and the company. If you don't like it now, do you think it would change in 3 yrs? If you aren't happy get out while you can, and tell the new company how you think you would benefit from them, and how they would benefit from you. Everyone makes mistakes, I don't think you should be penalized for it, IMO.

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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 28, 2005 3:40 pm

James, thank you for finding us. If you have a chance, tell others at that site where the new forum is now located. As you will see, there are many features here that I tried to get for years (search engine for posts, email feature, etc).

There is nothing wrong with giving this contact a call and reminding him of your background, and how it has changed since you moved to the pharma company a year ago. You are lucky that you didn't burn any bridges when you turned down that offer. But, biotech co offers are ALWAYS lower than Pharma companies, so don't expect to even get a lateral move out of this transition. Life in the two types of companies is entirely different, and this includes compensation.

You ought to get those deals you refer to typed up into a "deal sheet." This is what most biotech executives are used to seeing for people in your area of expertise. With an updated resume and a deal sheet, you won't look flakey at all to this person if you go ahead and honestly admit that the pharma working life is not for you. Don't necessarily call it a "mistake" to have gone there, however, as you have earned a lot of great marketable experience along the way and your biotech contact needs to know this. You don't want him thinking that you are the same person he offered X salary to last year. You are now X plus 10-15%.

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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby Kevin Foley » Fri Jan 28, 2005 4:45 pm

James,

My advice is to stick it out another year. A couple of years in BD at a big pharma will look very attractive to most small biotechs, much more so than just one year of experience. One year always looks a bit flaky!

Let's face it; most biotechs don't know what they are doing. This is why they are eager to hire people with experience from companies that do know what they are doing. Maybe your current job is not all you want it to be, but it sounds like it is a great learning experience. Would you have had the same diversity of learning opportunities at the other company? Also, in a small biotech it is much less likely that anyone will mentor and teach you the ropes. So don't let your dissatisfaction with the big pharma environment cause you to forget how much you've probably learned.

My advice is to figure out what 2 key bullet points you'd like to add to your resume, and then spend the next year totally focused on accomplishing these two things. Do your job, but get what you want/need out of it and then you'll be in a better position to find that "perfect fit."

Cheers,
Kevin
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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby Rahul Saikia » Fri Jan 28, 2005 5:29 pm

James,

If early stage Biotech is where you aspire to be, look at your current BD situation in Big Pharma as an opportunity to access your future customer's thought processes. From that context with another year of Big Pharma deal making experience you could be a sought after,candidate of choice for any Biotech co you might want to consider.

I am 25, with an Accounting/ Investment Banking background, recently joined Pfizer India's Strategy & Business Development. BD is a relatively new concept in these parts, so the team is small(5 including myself).

My plan is to leverage my finance background with this BD experience to break into a life sciences focussed venture capital/ private equity team.

I am currently going through a self learning process of attaining familiarity with the science component of Pharma/ Biotech. I am starting with SG Cowen research reports, Biotech guides at www.fool.com, www.evelexa.com.

Any suggesstions, materials are welcome. My email id : rahul.saikia@pfizer.com

Rahul

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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby Dave Jensen » Fri Jan 28, 2005 5:38 pm

James, the advice from Kevin and Rahul is good for the general job-seeking that you may end up doing for a biotech job. Yes, one year is deemed too short, and two years would be considered an acceptable minimum.

Just to clarify, in my comments I had suggested that you would not look like a flake to be calling your acquaintance and investigating those prospects. I stand by this comment. For this one situation only -- a company who you had an offer from earlier -- it won't hurt you to be in touch and to discuss your feelings about the working environment of the big pharma company. As I said, you don't want to call it a mistake, but offering up some interest to this contact in his business isn't a bad idea. I know what it is like to have the prospect of working yet another year in a job that you do not like.

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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby Jim » Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:13 pm

Kevin, I'd agree with you that Big Pharma has experiences that would offer utility to a Biotech; but, I have to disagree with you on your suggestion to "figure out what 2 key bullet points you'd like to add to your resume, and then spend the next year totally focused on accomplishing these two things.". I worked in Big Pharma and no a number of people that still do or have moved elsewhere. One thing that is consistent is that one has little opportunity to take on new task or focus on new concepts in that environment. Especially if one is trying to secure those opportunities within a year's period of time, as you suggest.

Kevin, it could take a lot longer to secure new career enriching opportunities in a Big Pharma environment than one year.

Just my opinion. Glad to be a part of the discussion. Good luck to all.
Jim
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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby James » Mon Jan 31, 2005 12:09 pm

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the advice. I have not heard back from the biotech. Would it be too agressive to call him back? I left a message 1 week ago and I was told he would be in at the end of the week. Should I wait another week?

What are the prospects of landing another biotech position if there is nothing available at the one that offered me a position last year? I hope that I did not miss my only chance at a biotech. At the time, the pharma package seemed so much better. I guess I would never have known what it was like unless I tried.

What are your thoughts on launching an agressive job search with only one year in at Big Pharma.? I just can't imagine that my current job will change over the next year or two, so the prospects of coming here 10 hours a day are somewhat disturbing.

Thanks,

James
James
 

Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby Dave Jensen » Mon Jan 31, 2005 1:24 pm

I think that many of the posters here are correct; your one year at a job will look flakey. It will look a lot less flakey if you find a way to be a "recruited" candidate via a headhunting firm, so make those inquiries right away. But, blasting out a job search in the first year of your employment will make you look a bit like a job shopper. Certainly, it is possible to make a move, but when you do make sure that you hang in there for a few years before leaving.

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Mistake in Big Pharma?

Postby Kevin Foley » Mon Jan 31, 2005 6:25 pm

RE: "I just can't imagine that my current job will change over the next year or two, so the prospects of coming here 10 hours a day are somewhat disturbing."

I wouldn't count on working shorter hours in a biotech! If anything, it is usually the other way around.

Then again, maybe you were saying that it is hard to put in long hours when you don't enjoy the job, which I can understand.

Don't worry about missing your shot in biotech. As a couple of us already mentioned, several years experience in a big pharma will make you a hot commodity at many biotechs. That should be pretty good motivation to make it through another year.

Cheers,
Kevin
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