MSL+ Medical Science Liaison
I have always looked ahead to what might be next-where is there a gap. That’s what will keep people employed in my opinion.
Principal Research Scientist and Technical Fellow
Professional Development Facilitator, University
- What do you say when asked about your personal style and responsibilities?
When you say “style” I immediately think of management style-I think because that’s so critical to success in a job whether you’re the manager, or you’re being managed as an individual contributor. They say people don’t quit jobs, they quit bad bosses, and in my case that’s definitely true. I stayed at a job where I wasn’t properly rewarded/recognized/compensated for many years because I had a great boss who supported me and my ideas, gave me freedom and didn’t micromanage me, and protected me from the “nasties” in the company so I could do my work without needless interruptions and political bologna. In short, I knew he had my back. That’s worth more than any amount of money. I think that understanding that everyone has a life outside of work, and certain stresses-whether they be familial, marital, health, financial, whatever-is key to being a successful manager. If you can support your employees when they need flexibility it engenders a deep sense of loyalty. And that’s part of why I stayed at that job so long!
Responsibilities-here what comes to mind are moral and ethical considerations when working at a large corporation. Money is the ruler of the roost. It’s not easy to stand up and shoot down a project that’s looks like an “easy win” for the business because it’s bad science or it might hurt a patient. But that’s the job of a scientist. That means there are some people who will not like you. It’s important to hold true to your moral compass when faced with bullies who are just trying to push their own agenda, collect a big fat bonus check, and be long gone before the shit ever hits the proverbial fan. Scientists and engineers tenures tend to be much longer than business partners who turn over every 2-5 years. They have a lot less to lose.
- Are you challenged? What stresses you?
Challenged as in intellectually? Seldom. Interested, often. Mostly the challenging part of my work is dealing with the personalities and egos present everywhere (my own included). What stresses me out is not feeling a sense of place in a the company (not being valued) or feeling like the work isn’t valued.
- Describe your title, how long you have been in your role and your most enjoyable responsibilities and tasks.
Currently, MSL. About one year. Most enjoyable task is rounding with the surgeons and meeting patients who have received our therapy-there is nothing better.
- How did you land your current position? Do you continuously keep an open
mind to changing positions? How long should we stay in our positions?
Word of mouth.
It depends on the job, the economy and personal factors such as home life-marriage, family, ageing parents. kids in school, ability to sell a house, et cetera. You (generally) have the most freedom before you start collecting a large paycheck and take on a mortgage and family…maybe a boat or a lovely pair of horses. (LOL).
- What do you believe aided you in being awarded your position?
My experience and openness to move to a riskier situation.
- Have you refused an offer that you think you should have taken? What were the factors in your decision?
Possibly-I declined an offer in Europe just out of grad school (with what was at the time Synthes, in Oberdorf Switzerland). It was a great offer but I couldn’t pull the trigger and I wasn’t sure why. Several months later my dad was diagnosed with cancer and he was dead within the year. If I had taken that job I would have missed the last months of his life. Trust your gut, even if you don’t understand it.
- What opportunities and challenges do you see provide growth for you?
Changing to new technology platforms that are very different than what I have experience in-it changes the way you think about approaching problems and exposes you to new ways of doing things.
Teaching and teaching others to teach-never easy.
Service work-there are so many people who have problems we don’t know about and we may have solutions they need-it could be a great product or device to help someone.
- What are ways that you go out of your way to expand your network?
Even when I’m tired I meet people-for lunches, or attend events they’re going to. There’s nothing as good as face time with people in your network. Keep a broad network of people older and younger than you-you can learn from both. I try to check in with people a couple of times a year and if I know they attend a specific conference plan ahead to meet up. A large network of people who you don’t know, or who don’t care about you is pretty useless in my opinion. Your network will grow over time, like a garden. If you plant too much you can’t care for any of it properly. Select and tend to relationships that you care about the most, and over time you will see the fruits of your labors.
- What comments do you wish to make for people who are graduating or planning on moving on in the next year?
Plan carefully, but once you’ve looked at all the factors don’t use your brain, use your heart. You’ll make the right decision.
+ MSL = requires a “D” degree-so MD, PharmD or PhD. It used to be a minimum of 10 years of experience but now new grads can get these jobs. It kind of depends on the company and what they are looking to do. I honestly don’t feel super qualified to talk about MSL roles as mine is kind of odd. There is an MSL society.
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