Kumaran is Director, Global Medical Affairs for GSK Vaccines. He joined GSK in 2008.
What makes you, you?
I’m from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and I’ve lived in Singapore and Belgium through my various roles at GSK. Learning new things and meeting new people (patients, scientific experts, colleagues) are what really excites me. This is what I enjoyed most about being a practicing doctor, and it’s something I get to do a lot of at GSK. I’ve gained a lot from having exposure to different cultures and different environments through my job here.
What’s the best thing about working here?
Seeing research being translated into action or practice. Before coming into the industry, I would spend a lot of time on research, but it would often not get turned into action. It’s very rewarding knowing that something I’m working on now could actually become a product used by patients in the future – it is much more satisfying. My dream would be to eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases around the world, and working at GSK I really feel that this is a tangible goal. The company is committed to meeting the needs of people in developing countries by making vaccines affordable, and I’m really proud to be a part of that.
What are your highlights?
One of the main highlights for me would be seeing GSK’s vaccine for cervical cancer being selected and introduced in the national immunisation programmes of Malaysia and Singapore. Knowing that this will help prevent thousands of cases of cervical cancer over time is really rewarding, and validates all the hard work that we do. I was very involved in the process and spent a lot of time communicating the data around the vaccine, so it was exciting to be able to contribute.
I’m also really proud to look back at the work I’ve done to bring GSK’s pneumococcal vaccine to Malaysia – I was a key spokesperson at medical congresses and at media events. It is nice knowing that I’ve played a part in the effort to save children from pneumococcal disease in the country.
How did we support your transition to GSK and the industry?
Coming from the public sector, joining the industry was certainly a challenge – it is so much more fast-paced and complex. GSK supported me through this very well, with a number of formal and informal training programmes. Whilst a lot of learning happened on the job, I also completed a physician foundation programme, which is mandatory for all new physicians joining the organisation. I personally found this very useful and it helped me settle down in my job. GSK also offered me numerous online learning programmes on a variety of topics and allocated funding to attend medical conferences and leadership programmes. In addition to this, there was also support from existing physicians within GSK.
What would you say to someone thinking of joining us?
The great thing about GSK and the industry is that it’s so diverse, in terms of the scope of work you could be doing and the geographical locations you could be working in. Working at GSK, you are exposed to many different parts of the business; not just the scientific part, but the commercial side as well. At the same time, the heart of the company is focused on patients – it’s the reasoning behind what we do and this is something that aligns with my own personal values and principles as a physician. GSK is also full of opportunities for personal development – if you have the desire to succeed, you will have the right people around you and the right environment to move forward and go far within the organisation.
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