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Mid-career Perspective: Lucy Rowell

In a new interview series, members of the SCI Mid-Career group offer advice on career management, and how to overcome career challenges.

In this interview, we hear from Lucy Rowell, who has 17 years’ experience within Roche Products Ltd in the UK. Lucy started her career as a statistician and has progressed to her current role as the Group Head for Affiliate Partnerships within the Personalised HealthCare, Data Science team. Whilst staying in one organisation throughout her career, she used the relationships and networks she built, alongside her personal brand to try new areas and build a career she has thoroughly enjoyed.

Describe your career so far

Whilst being a statistician I have worked across Phase I-IV clinical trials and across >10 disease areas. This diversity of experiences led me to securing a role as a Global Development Leader, a role predominantly done by medics, leading the strategy and decisions along the lifecycle of a drug. I lead a cross functional team of medics, pharmacologists, operations, regulatory affairs, safety science, statisticians.

During my time in this role, I led three different drugs in three different disease areas. From here, I decided to do a rotation within our UK affiliate where I was a medical/marketing manager for early pipeline molecules. I also drove the UK strategy with key stakeholders to enable successful access of new drugs to patients in the UK. From here I took my understanding of data, drug development, leadership, commercial understanding of local markets to move into my current role. 

As well as my work career, I am currently the Chairwoman for PSI (Statisticians in the Pharmaceutical Industry). I have been an active member for over 8 years and most recently led and chaired our yearly conference. From there, I took over as the Chairwoman in July 2019, after a year as vice-chair. As an organisation we are looking to develop and support anyone with an interest in statistics within healthcare.

Education wise, I have a Masters in Medical Statistics from Leicester University and a BSc in Combined Studies in Science (Major: Mathematics, Minor: Sport & Exercise Science) from Nottingham Trent University.

What are the key things you do to manage your career at the mid-career stage?

At this stage of my career I see a lot of career development to be driven by myself. I personally think about the types of role I would be interested in doing in the next 3 - 5 years, as well as roles I would like to do in ten years + time. I would then look to see where my gaps may be and what I can do to build my experiences to put me in the best position to achieve my ambitions. I actively seek either hands on opportunities for me to develop new skills or find in-house or external training courses. I certainly do less classroom-based training now than I did in my earlier career.

What are your challenges around mid-career support?

The main challenge I see is finding time to prioritise my own development, hence why I try to do more on the job opportunities to learn/develop, rather than take time out for a training course.
There is certainly less support from management to help navigate what may need to be done to help get you new opportunities.

If I hadn't been within my company for such a long time and have a great network to leverage and seek support from, I think it would be more difficult to navigate my own development.

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