Open road

Open road

Open road 260 200 Exploristics

By Aiden Flynn, CEO at Exploristics

I often get asked for career advice from statisticians and analysts in a range of different roles within the pharma industry.  A common request for this comes from statisticians considering working in innovative biotech companies who would like to understand more about what might be involved in being one. As with many career paths, I think it offers both opportunities and challenges.

The opportunities

Getting involved in a fast-moving, small biotech may be an exciting prospect. For a statistician it brings:

  • Autonomy
  • Variety with an opportunity to get involved in lots of different activities from vendor management, data management, programming, statistics, study design, strategic support, development of quality management systems and processes, regulatory interaction
  • Visibility with access to senior leadership
  • Input at a strategic level

Undoubtedly, you will learn about a lot of things.  However, working in this space can also involve drawbacks.

The challenges

In a small company with a limited infrastructure, you may encounter disadvantages such as:

  • Limited training and development opportunities
  • A lack of technical support and limited time to develop core technical skills
  • Limited career progression with no career ladder
  • Being isolated and exposed
  • Working under high pressure and risk

So, how do you make the right decision?

Consider timing

When considering taking a role in a small biotech, timing is important for a statistician.  You need to reflect if this is the right role given your experience and your aspirations.  It is easy to be beguiled by the excitement of small biotech and the promise of developing a team if it takes off. However, you need to ask yourself if your employer will then look for someone with wider experience should there be a need to scale up the biostatistics capabilities. If you need to move on, for whatever reason, finding a role that is right for you may prove challenging due to gaps in core skills and competencies.

Consider stepping-stones

If you are thinking about working in a small biotech, it’s worth considering the best route there while keeping your options open. I believe it is important for any aspiring statistician in the Pharmaceutical Industry to spend time in a larger organization with a substantial biostatistics presence- one that has all the structures in place such as career ladders, standards, processes, systems and quality assurance.  Having that experience on your CV/resume gives you greater career choices and will bring valuable experience to any small biotech should you choose to move on. In short, it’s better to go big early to keep an open road for your career progression so you can make more impact later in a smaller environment. That way your career won’t run out of road.


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