LIFE SCIENCE IN THE DAY OF… Dr Evgenia Galinskaya, Production Associate
6:30 My natural body clock has adjusted to wake me just before my 2-year-old daughter. I kiss her goodbye at the nursery around 8am. As a mum, I now understand the challenges faced by aspiring professionals who want to be successful both as parents and employees. It’s not an easy choice to leave your child in someone’s care while you are working, but if you love your job and feel as valued and appreciated as I do, you know it’s the right decision and will reap long-term benefits for you and your children.
Geekily, I read the latest news in healthcare digital technology on the tube. Although no longer a practising clinician, I am, as they say, “once a doctor, always a doctor”. This probably explains my keen interest in the “hot” area of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Healthcare. I recently caught up with a friend from university days, now CEO of a rapidly growing start up with the world’s first software for personalized early diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer, based on Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning applied to the world’s largest clinical dataset. We had an interesting discussion about the apparent scarcity of talent with dual qualifications in Medicine and Computer Science. The conversation echoed insights from an interview I conducted when I first joined Coulter Partners, with Dr Vishaal Virani of Ada Health, a global personalized medicine platform: https://www.coulterpartners.com/digital-perspective-ada-healths-dr-vishaal-virani-on-the-ai-symptom-checker-app/
09:00 I arrive in the office just in time for a scheduled call with a candidate for a Medical Affairs search. Despite outstanding technical expertise and a very solid track record in the relevant therapy area, she appears to doubt herself. I put on my “career coach” hat, achieved through 4 years’ hands-on coaching in healthcare and a professional coaching qualification. Some exploratory questioning establishes what her inner blocks may be when considering leadership roles. Conversations like this help me understand and resolve key sticking points daily.
9:30 Time for another call with someone who is still in clinical practice but has been consulting for the pharmaceutical industry for nearly 10 years. He thinks he is ready to make a complete transition to industry but still has many doubts. Medics tend to be particularly resistant to change and risk averse, coming from a structured, and for the most part predictable, career pathway in Medicine, which is perceived as both stable and financially secure. Having run a consultancy myself, I can identify with the ups and downs experienced by those who leave full time employment to become “their own boss”. I can relate to them with advice about career direction. I talk frankly with him about my experiences of the transition from the NHS into consulting, and then into executive search.
10:00 It’s our “Team Phoenix” weekly update meeting on the progress of the searches we are each responsible for. Like the long-lived bird of Greek mythology that cyclically regenerates, our elected team name signifies resilience in the face of tough searches, many of which come to Coulter Partners after multiple prolonged attempts by clients to fill the roles themselves. At the end of the meeting we all have a good laugh reviewing photos from our recent Team Week, where 75 of us from 10 international offices came together not only to enjoy a “Night at the Opera” Gala dinner but also to strategise on achieving our mission to be the very best Life Sciences executive search organisation. I feel lucky to be a part of a company that can mix serious business and pleasure. And I feel proud to be part of “cool” Team Phoenix.
11:15 This is one of the hardest parts of the job. I am calling an individual to say we cannot progress their candidature to second stage client interviews. For me it is poignant every time, regardless of the person’s current job status or level of seniority. This human being has possibly already imagined themselves in the new role with high hopes of making a better future for their family. Personal experience of breaking bad news as a clinician helps me to deal with these scenarios professionally and sensitively, while maintaining warmth and inspiring hope that we can help them one day nevertheless.
11:30 My team has a Skype call with the IT lead who teaches us the newest capabilities of our candidate management system. Data can be presented in ever more sophisticated and graphic ways to our clients on update calls. We also learn of a new Learning and Development initiative accessible to all, that will enable us to attain and refresh skills in a fun, interactive way. I am smiling because I will have the honour of contributing to the design and development of the training modules to help colleagues to be more proactive about their professional development.
12:00 As I leave for lunch, a candidate calls from one of my searches to ask about the progress of her application. The candidate starts the call in Russian because “I saw your name and kind of guessed you would be a Russian speaker”. Originally from India and now living in Germany, she used to study at a medical school in Russia. She likes to practice her Russian speaking skills at every opportunity and this helps to ease the initial awkwardness, while I try to place her in the context of the search. Nevertheless, I find it easier and more productive to switch back to English to discuss the role’s responsibilities, having been in this country now for 20 years!
12:20 I head out for lunch with a medic friend who wants to learn more about executive search. Naturally I draw parallels with clinical practice. I think of executive search as General Practice where continuity of care and trust based relationships are key to successful outcomes. By contrast, high-street recruitment is more like A&E – fast paced, less consultative and often in emergency mode! I emphasize the importance of continuity of care and a personal touch when communicating with candidates and clients alike.
Tenacity, perseverance and dealing with disappointment are all key qualities in this world; sometimes, despite all your hard work, a search falls through at the last minute, owing to circumstances beyond your control. You need the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, put a smile back on and restart.
My friend asks me whether I regret “wasting” my medical training on something non-clinical. I tell her that I wholeheartedly believe I am still helping patients, not directly but certainly on a much wider scale. Our contribution to better equipped leadership teams in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology space in turn contributes to the health of millions of patients through innovation in therapeutics, diagnostics and medical technology. And I have the additional satisfaction of being able to support the careers of medics and scientists. Knowledge of the pharma industry gave me a kick-start to succeed in R&D searches and I have focused on this area so far, including senior roles in clinical development, drug safety, medical affairs, clinical operations and quality. I have also learnt about specific geographies and the challenges associated with finding talent for isolated markets like Japan.
I tell her that one of the best things about my job is the privilege of speaking with key opinion leaders and senior industry experts and seeing their human side. In a board room they may be tough negotiators for their business, but career conversations often reveal their “softer” side such as concerns about children’s schooling or a recent win in an Alpine ski competition.
Above all at Coulter Partners there is an amazing sense of belonging and sense of being appreciated, which I did not have in the NHS.
13:30 It is time for a catch up with our Psychometric Assessment Lead to learn more about Coulter Partners leadership assessment work with clients. I am delighted that there is scope for me to use my coaching and training experience to contribute to team goals. I then learn the best news of the day! I will have the chance to study towards a professional qualification in assessment that is recognised by the British Psychological Society.
14:00 I make some calls to potential candidates for a CMO search. Many MDs say they do not “usually speak to recruiters” but they are usually curious to speak to a fellow medic. Positioning myself as a former clinician who is now in a career advisory role supporting them in solving their career challenges is helping me succeed with multiple assignments.
14:30 One of my searches is not going so well. Some of the team in the US and in Europe join me for a brainstorming meeting via Skype. I share the insights I learned delivering career development workshops to scientists and MDs. Only a relatively small proportion of MDs actively engage with people they don’t know on LinkedIn, or have a LinkedIn account at all. Of course, those MDs who have already crossed a bridge from clinical work to industry work are more aware of the advantages of networking. Some strategic reallocation of research and networking tasks follows as we deploy a truly multidisciplinary approach to problem resolution.
15:00 I have set aside this time to prepare a candidate update report for a call with a client due in a couple of days. A Project Lead for another of my searches calls and asks me to urgently identify some more potential candidates, because he has just heard from the lead candidate will be going for promotion internally. Multitasking, setting and resetting priorities and quickly switching attention from one thing to another are all as much a part of search as they are of medicine.
16:30 An email arrives asking if I’d be interested in accompanying Coulter Partners’ COO and one of the managing Partners to the AESC European Conference in London in November 2018. Would I be interested? Of course! As someone who used to run my own business, I fully appreciate the value of networking to grow a business, as well as an amazing way to connect people to opportunities. My current role is a product of tireless networking over several months when I was learning about the search industry.
16:45 I leave the office earlier than most, because I need to pick up my daughter from nursery before they close at 18:00. This flexibility and the opportunity to work remotely is a real benefit for a single mother of a toddler. Such seemingly “simple” arrangements contribute to a sense of “work-life” balance and allow me to remain in full time employment. Being given the autonomy to set priorities and manage my own time to complete projects is very refreshing and fulfilling. Speaking to other mums makes me realise just how lucky I am in a world where flexible working for parents is still far from commonplace.
17:00 On the way home I am happy and proud to be a part of a leading Life Sciences executive search team and a company that genuinely looks after its people. I recently took up the challenge of being one of Coulter Partners Brand Champions. On the tube, I consider innovative ways to contribute to our marketing communications and social media strategy with personal stories or industry perspectives. Our collective vast experience, industry knowledge and connections can add tremendous value to Life Science leadership professionals and I am keen to explore the most effective way to engage this audience.
22:30 It is Friday night, and I look forward to the weekend. I have long been a believer that people should be proactive in designing their own life, and this will depend on short- and long-term priorities. For most of us a big part of our lives is spent at work. I used to suggest to my coaching clients to look for opportunities where on a Sunday night they would actually be looking forward to the week ahead. I feel lucky that this has been my own experience since joining Coulter Partners. And maybe that’s the real reason I don’t need to set an alarm clock for Monday morning?