The overarching aim and the real essence of my day-to-day work as a Medical Scientific Liaison (MSL) Manager is to help a) external stakeholders, i.e. all physicians who use our medications to treat patients, and b) internal stakeholders and colleagues within different departments across Bayer to gain practical benefits from scientific research findings. You could say that the role of the MSL Manager is to give advice on the science behind the medication to those working with it – which means no two working days are the same!
One day, I could be at the airport flying to a clinic in Sweden to give a seminar for doctors who have requested to hear the latest results from a clinical study. The next day, I could be at our Head Office training colleagues from the sales and marketing departments. After that, I might be at a cross-functional brand team or regional business team meeting to plan upcoming activities. The fourth day, I could be flying to a national or international congress or training session about my therapy specialism, or attending an advisory board meeting with the most reputable doctors/professors in the relevant field of therapy to gain an insight into a new or existing indication for the medication. My standard working day involves answering requests and queries via email, planning for the weeks ahead, communicating with my manager and colleagues to align our work and keep each other updated, reading the latest abstracts/publications and reporting on my daily activities.
Perceiving our core values in my day-to-day work
At the end of my second post-doctoral year at university, I developed an interest in the field of anticoagulation and knew that Bayer had a fascinating clinical pipeline for their product. I reached out to the MSL Manager and announced that I was eager to join the Swedish Medical Affairs team. Three months later, a position opened and I was invited for an interview. After several interview stages, I was offered the position of MSL Manager. I have enjoyed working there ever since. This is mainly down to being surrounded by highly competent, dedicated and inspiring colleagues in a fantastic collaborative and dynamic environment. But it is also thanks to the fact that I am given the encouragement and support to perform at my best every day. Despite the size of the company, all employees have the opportunity to voice their ideas and opinions and make a difference. Coming from an academic background and thus having worked in a more competitive – rather than collaborative – environment, this was a real breath of fresh air and is something I greatly appreciate.
Another great aspect is the importance attached to achieving a good work-life balance. Trying to juggle a career and a family with two children can certainly be challenging. Unlike in academia, however, where endless nights and weekends are spent at the lab, at Bayer it is the manager’s responsibility to address this issue and make sure employees maintain a good work-life balance. This, on top of the competitive salary and all other employee benefits at Bayer, makes the company a very attractive place to work. The key behaviours we have are: Collaboration, Experimentation, Trust and Customer Focus. I see how these values enable me to progress within the company on a daily basis.
It’s never too late to transition into industry with a PhD
I am sometimes invited to give talks and seminars to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in Stockholm about opportunities in the industry. Together with our Communications and HR departments, we participate at career events at Universities and hold activities for researchers. There are many highly competent academics who feel that their skills are outdated or that their chances of securing a position at a university or company are slim. Unfortunately, there is also a misconception that if you don’t make it in academia and become a professor, then you have failed. In reality, less than one percent of PhD students become professors, which leaves many of them spending several years getting short-term contracts in the hope of securing a stable academic tenure before being ultimately rejected. It is never too late to transition into an industrial role if you have a PhD. Bayer is great in the sense that we also promote collaboration with universities and continued independent scientific publishing. It’s the best of both worlds. Our future projects will focus on gene and cellular disruptive therapy technologies. Curing patients rather than just treating them. It doesn’t get much more cutting-edge than that.
My advice would be to reach out to a person at Bayer – most preferably to Bayer’s local HR office or a manager within the area or department you are interested in. I have every confidence that this will prove to be a life-changing experience in both professional and personal terms for many of you. From my own experience, I can promise that you will never look back.
This post is also available in: German