KEY TAKEAWAY: Pharma companies need people who can bring an empathetic view to everything they do. You will have the opportunity to help people with health problems so that they can live a better quality of life. It’s not going to be easy, but when you succeed, you will feel like you made a difference and to me that’s what a career should be about.
When I first came into pharma marketing 16 years ago I was told “you need to learn pharma marketing” upon which my push-back was ‘pharma needs to learn about consumer marketing”. To this day I have tried to apply what I know about marketing to develop out-of-the-box thinking.
The biggest challenge facing pharma companies today is that new graduates and experienced marketers are not interested in working for a pharma company. Pharma has responded with higher salaries, but there isn’t any amount of money that can compensate for mounting frustrations of attending all day meetings and trying to let everyone know that DTC marketing has changed. When you couple this with the continuing exodus of talent and layoffs, it’s easy to see why there are so many recycled people within the industry.
I have sat through a lot of research with patients and have heard, first hand, their frustration at trying to manage various health conditions. At times it’s been hard, but being empathetic has led me to develop some great initiatives. When I was on the Sarafem team I heard women talk about how the health community wouldn’t take their PMDD seriously even though it was affecting their relationships. On the Cialis team I heard how men with ED did everything they could to avoid intimacy because of the fear of not being able to perform. I heard women say that they thought their partners weren’t attracted to them anymore when this was not the case.
Through research, and an empathetic approach, I was able to make a difference. That feeling was better than any paycheck or job title. You can be the change the industry needs but it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to run into people who know the cost of everything but not the value to patients. You’re going to witness outdated processes and people who are afraid to take risks, but when you do succeed you’re going to be walking on air.
Don’t believe the garbage in the media about how pharma companies are a necessary evil. Sure, there are some people who should be shown the door, but there is also a lot more who really care about what they do and are fighting the battle for patients every day.
Very few of us have a chance to make a difference and leave your mark. Think about pharma because it just may be the toughest job you are really going to love.