Juan, R&D Vaccines, Belgium

Juan smiling at the camera

R&D (Vaccines)

When I first started looking for career opportunities, I considered various industries – consulting, the public sector and pharmaceuticals.

While I was a trained doctor, I wanted to move away from practising medicine and I wanted a role that would allow me to gain international experience. So when I discovered that GSK had a Future Leaders Programme (FLP) in Belgium, I did not hesitate – and now here I am, all the way from Colombia.

I chose to apply for the FLP because it offered me the opportunity to learn about the other side of the medical industry. As a trained doctor, I wanted a different experience, and I felt I could have a broader impact on others’ lives at GSK. Although I’m not currently practising medicine, I’m still helping patients as they are at the core of GSK’s business, and I’m helping shape the medicines and vaccines of the future too.

Since I joined 19 months ago, I’ve been on four rotations, each lasting six months. I began my first rotation in Belgium, where I worked on new candidate vaccines and learned about what it takes to create successful vaccines. Then I moved to Regulatory Affairs, still in Belgium, where I worked in external stakeholder management for the EU and discovered how different departments aligned to work together.

The FLP is more than a great start to a career; it’s a very challenging and rewarding experience that will change your life.

My third rotation saw me based in Kenya – an incredibly challenging yet rewarding experience. I got to meet and work alongside local people and gain a real understanding of a different culture. The experience taught me that keeping an open mind is the most important thing if you want to work at an international level. 

But the best part of my Kenya experience was the way it brought me closer than ever to the patients. I saw how essential our vaccines were in national immunisation programmes, and I realised the true impact of our work. In Kenya, I could see that what I did behind my desk was improving the lives of someone somewhere.

I’m currently on my fourth rotation in Belgium, but I’ve been able to add a third year onto my programme which means I’ll be heading somewhere else in September. At GSK, there are plenty of chances to gain international exposure if you wish, and we have colleagues from all over the world, so you get to make the most of our global connections and knowledge.

But it’s not just the global exposure that makes GSK great. As an FLP associate, we’re given access to the worldly experience of senior management too – we’re extremely fortunate that our leaders at GSK are very approachable and open to discussing our career and future options. And because my rotations have taken me around the company, I’ve been able to learn from a wide range of experts and leaders. 

While it hasn’t even been two years since I joined GSK, my experience to date has been overwhelmingly positive. I find that I now have a great work-life balance and thus a better quality of life overall, with an open, supportive and friendly work environment. Best of all, I know the work I do will have a great impact on the future of medical treatment – so I get to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Based on my experience, the GSK Future Leaders Programme is definitely more than a great start to a career; it’s a very challenging and rewarding experience, and it will change your life, both personally and professionally.

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