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Getting Where You Need to Go


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-10-01-2018
Volume 38
Issue 10

As this year's installment of our Emerging Pharma Leaders shows, the current roadmap for a career in biopharma requires its own "Waze"-like navigation.

As usual, in the world of apps and such, I’m a day late and a dollar short. I do not like the navigation system in my car, so I use Google Maps on my phone to get where I need to go. It doesn’t send me on crazy routes and I can choose to take alternates in case of traffic. But in just one week, I heard about the Waze app quite a few times. At first, I thought we were talking about Shazam, which is how you find out the name of the song by holding your app to the source of the music. But no. Waze is GPS navigation that is crowdsourced to

Lisa Henderson

include “live” navigation. Avoid a pothole? Check. Cop ahead? Check. Re-routing around a parade? Check. It’s GPS on steroids, which Google bought in 2013. Check. 

It used to be in the job market, you could pretty much rely on the tried-and-true methods to navigate your way to a good job or profession. Go to college, get a degree, start into an entry-level job and then move your way up. Eventually, another degree would put you in the running for a better position in the same company or for a closely-related company that would scoop you up. 

But the current roadmap for a career is not so direct. There are generational gaps on what people can expect will happen to them. Currently, the average number of jobs held by baby boomers is 12. For millennials, that number is already at three to four jobs, and they haven’t even tapped out yet. 

In the pharmaceutical industry, we can see more clearly than ever in this year’s annual Emerging Pharma Leaders issue that there is no hard and fast direct route for getting ahead either. This year features more titles that didn’t exist five years ago, more diverse paths these professionals took to get to their current position, and a bit more awareness and positive reflection on the skills and attitudes that got them where they are today. 

Let’s plug that into our Waze for Jobs in Pharma app. This is what it would pop up:

  • Follow Your Passion

  • Curious About Commercial (or another part of the business)

  • Build a Team and Support Its Talents

  • Listen to Others

  • Realize When You Need Guidance

  • Loyalty Still Matters

  • Gratitude

A key for Waze to function optimally is to thumbs up or thumbs down the information that appears on your screen. While, personally, I find that distracting when you are driving, if you don’t agree or disagree that you did see the pothole, police officer, or parade, then the information you pass along to the next person is going to be that much less accurate. 

The Emerging Pharma Leaders Class of 2018 knows they didn’t have a Waze to get where they are. But, philosophically, they abide by the idea that sharing information and imparting advice will make those behind them that much more aware. Many EPLs teach, mentor, and give back to others. The following are just a few words of advice from our EPLs for those on the pharma journey:

  • “I try to concentrate on enhancing their critical-thinking and building the necessary soft and technical skills that could be transferrable, such as leading project teams, communicating with non-technical audiences…”

  • “Be bold, take career risks, and don’t be afraid of diversification…”

  • “...seek out diverse viewpoints and insight from advocates, mentors, colleagues, etc.-especially those with different opinions and life experiences.”

  • “...all of us are better than any one of us.”


Lisa Henderson is Editor-in-Chief of Pharm Exec. She can be reached at lisa.henderson@ubm.com. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @trialsonline

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