“Not everybody is an A-star student. I certainly wasn’t,” industrial pharmacist Sue Kilby admits.
But that has never halted her hugely varied career, working in the NHS, for pharmaceutical companies such as Janssen and Amgen, and even setting up her own consultancy firm.
She was one of eight speakers at C+D’s careers event at Bradford University last night, who shared their varying pharmacy journeys. From community to hospital, GP practices and research – the take home message for anyone considering which career path to choose is: take every opportunity available.
“There are so many opportunities for pharmacists to work in industry,” Ms Kilby told attendees, listing examples such as research and development, market access, health outcomes and commercial roles like sales and marketing.
However, she admits that “it is relatively difficult these days to actually do your pre-registration year in industry. There are few opportunities”.
“For most people it is easier to do your pre-reg in the community or hospital sector and once you have qualified, you can look at opportunities within industry,” she says.
Ms Kilby also shared her tips for starting – and making the most of – a career in industrial pharmacy:
1) Maintain your LinkedIn profile
“A lot of recruiters at pharmaceutical companies actually look at your profile to find suitable job candidates.”
2) Approach companies directly
“Go to a pharmaceutical company website and submit your CV to keep track of what jobs are coming up.”
3) Keep on learning
“During your career you have to accept that you will go through a learning process. University is not the end of your learning, you need to go on and pick up different skillsets from different areas to move into another.”
4) Consider further qualifications
Ms Kilby not only has a pharmacy degree to her name, but an MBA, and diplomas in marketing and health economics.
“You will need to carry on picking up skills throughout your career,” she says. “Remember that you are not just competing against other pharmacists; there will be non-pharmacists when you apply for jobs as well.”
5) Be flexible and adaptable
“You have to be flexible and adaptable” to make the most of “the vast amount of opportunities” available for pharmacists in industry, she adds.