Summer, Commercial Management, China
Honestly, this path took me a little by surprise. Throughout my undergraduate and master’s degree in biochemistry, I had accumulated a lot of lab experience – it’s what I knew.
So when I decided to develop my career in the pharmaceutical industry, I just assumed I would move into a role in Research and Development. But during my application to GSK, I was told that my background and skills would also be very well-suited to the commercial management programme. So that’s where I am now! It’s very different to my lab experience – and much more interesting than I realised. In the lab, you do very process-based work. In a commercial environment, however, you simply can’t make everything so planned. The market is changing all the time, so you need to find creative ways to adapt.
My line manager didn't just ask for my ideas, she gave me the responsibility and freedom to bring them to life.
This is a challenge I really enjoy. I end up trying all sorts of new ideas along the way, not just the one I started out with. There’s also much more collaboration and cross-team working than in a lab. You need to integrate all the people and resources at your disposal to achieve your objectives.
So far I’ve had two rotations – first sales and now marketing. My day-to-day tasks vary, but they all work towards one ultimate objective: Equipping doctors with the information to make the best possible decisions for their patients.
For example, in my sales rotation, I was a front-line medical representative, visiting hospitals, giving presentations, having conversations – basically lots of face-to-face interaction. I worked hard to truly understand our products inside out – not just their features, but how and why they benefitted patients. This really helped me to gain the trust of the doctors I was speaking to.
Moving into my second rotation in the HIV marketing team, I work on websites, social media, emails and events. We use all the channels available to communicate our key messages in clear, engaging ways.
When I joined the team, there was very little information on our HIV portal website and I knew it could be much better. My line manager didn’t just ask for my ideas, she gave me the responsibility and freedom to bring them to life. I feel really proud of the transformation we’ve made with this website and it feels great to know that my ideas are enabling doctors – and ultimately patients – to benefit.
It’s this kind of trust, responsibility and respect that makes the Future Leaders Programme (FLP) such a valuable development experience. I’ve improved my interpersonal skills, learned how to communicate more effectively with different types of people, not to mention how much better I am at managing my time and multi-tasking. Already I’m a different person to when I started.
GSK invests so much into giving us the resources and opportunities to grow – more than I ever imagined.
I’d recommend the FLP to anyone who wants to experience different areas of work to discover what really interests you. I’ve found something I’m passionate about and I’m excited to see where it takes me.
More on Future Leaders Programme
Claire, Manufacturing operations and quality (vaccines), Belgium
"After a few years of working in aerospace Research and Development (R&D), I just felt like something was missing."
Olga, Commercial Management, Singapore
"The pharma industry is at a very interesting stage right now, with a significant shift in the way we interact with healthcare practitioners, and GSK is at the forefront of that change."
Aslihan, Commercial management, Turkey
Aslihan is on our Commerical Management FLP in Turkey. She explains why rotating across marketing and sales has helped her understand how decisions in the office translate into the field.
Rehanul, Commercial management, Bangladesh
"When I was making decisions about my career, what I wanted most was to do meaningful work that would help to improve people’s lives."