00:05 My name’s Janet White and I work in Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
00:09 at the Research and Development Centre in La Jolla, California, in the United States.
00:15 Pfizer is a global healthcare company,
00:17 with R and D centres across America, Europe and Asia.
00:24 Pfizer La Jolla is one of Pfizer’s major R and D centres.
00:28 We have other centres across Europe, Asia and the Americas,
00:32 including one in Sandwich in Kent in the UK.
00:35 At Pfizer La Jolla we have over a thousand research scientists and other staff
00:40 who are working to discover our new therapeutic drugs.
00:44 We work primarily in three disease areas.
00:47 First of all, in discovery and development of new treatments for cancer,
00:52 secondly, in the development of ophthalmic drugs, drugs to treat eye diseases,
00:57 and thirdly, arming innovative vaccines for cancer and diseases of the central nervous system.
01:03 My role is Research Portfolio Director for cancer.
01:08 I provide strategic insight across Pfizer’s portfolio of cancer research projects.
01:13 I track the progress of the projects,
01:16 and I also track various attributes on the programmes.
01:21 I’m also in charge of our research project management function,
01:24 I have a project manager who reports to me.
01:28 One of the things I love about my job is the variety, no two days are ever the same.
01:32 But in a typical week I might attend a number of project team meetings.
01:38 A drug discovery research project usually consists of about 10-12 scientists from different disciplines.
01:44 There can be biochemists, cell biologists, pharmacologists, medicinal chemists of course,
01:50 toxicologists and pharmaceutical scientists who will deal with the manufacturing and formulation of new drugs.
01:57 Generally, big companies like Pfizer are very flexible about working hours,
02:01 and as long as the work gets done it’s not really an issue whether you’re working from your office,
02:07 working from home, or if you’re travelling, working on the road.
02:10 US scientist salaries tend to be a little bit higher than they are in the UK,
02:14 but on the flip side, we tend to get less vacation.
02:17 So only 10-15 days of holiday time per year is fairly typical for an American company.
02:24 In addition, most big American companies like Pfizer provide private healthcare insurance,
02:29 and this is very important when you work in America,
02:32 because healthcare is very expensive,
02:34 and at the moment there isn’t really an equivalent to the national health system for people who are in their working years.
02:41 I started out as a chemist working in pharmaceutical R and D at Beecham Pharmaceuticals.
02:47 I always enjoyed chemistry at school, it was my favourite subject,
02:50 and I liked the colours and the smells I got from reactions,
02:54 so when I went to university I studied natural sciences,
02:58 majoring in chemistry at Trinity College, Cambridge.
03:01 I particularly enjoy the intellectual challenges of organic synthesis
03:05 and working out synthetic roots,
03:08 as well as the theoretical challenges of quantum mechanics,
03:11 and so I managed to combine both of those in my first job,
03:14 which was an NMR or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopist,
03:19 working on solving the structures of new drugs, new antibiotic drugs.
03:24 I realised after a few years though that
03:27 it’s difficult to get into a management position in the pharmaceutical research and development if you don’t have a PhD.
03:33 But rather than going back to university to take a PhD, I opted instead to study for an MBA
03:40 with the Open University part-time while continuing to work in the lab.
03:45 When I got my MBA I left the lab and I went into management consulting,
03:50 working in the London office of big consulting firm Arthur D. Little
03:54 and I applied my industry knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry as well as my MBA
04:00 skills and qualifications to developing strategies for pharmaceutical and chemical company clients.
04:07 I really enjoyed my time as a management consultant, I got to travel widely across Europe,
04:12 the Middle East and the United States.
04:15 I worked in a great variety of client companies both large and small,
04:19 and on a variety of projects in different kinds of functional areas.
04:24 In 2001 I moved to the United States with a start-up consulting firm that I helped to found in London.
04:31 Shortly after that in 2002 I joined Pfizer for the first time.
04:36 My first position at Pfizer was working as a strategy consultant but in-house,
04:41 and as part of the research and development division.
04:45 And then a few years later I moved from there to another role in Pfizer in the clinical development group,
04:50 where I worked for the clinical site head in business operations.
04:55 Since then I’ve spent several years working in other La Jolla bio-tech companies
05:01 in a business development and licensing function.
05:04 I also got to travel a lot in those positions which I enjoyed very much,
05:09 and I came back to Pfizer earlier this year in my current role.
05:16 The drug discovery and drug development, these have been invaluable for me as I’ve gone on from one opportunity to another,
05:23 and I’ve really taken those advantages to learn and to apply those learnings to my next position.
05:30 Another thing that has helped me very much in my career is building a strong network
05:35 of other professionals in the bio-tech and pharmaceutical industries.
05:38 I’m a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, of the American Chemical Society,
05:43 and the Association for Women in Science,
05:46 and I’ve found those contacts and connections have been very helpful to me in my career
05:50 in finding opportunities and learning more about the industry.