Recently, a client asked what a typical day as a management consultant is like compared to being in big Pharma. That's a good question, because although much of the work is similar, the work flow is very different indeed.
The three things I absolutely do NOT miss are the perpetual cycle of endless meetings to address someone else's crisis, the politics and insane travel schedule that takes up every other weekend. For some reason, politics is sadly rather prevalent in Pharma. That said though, the huge advantages of running your own company is that a) you are the boss b) you don't have to stress about a twice daily commute that eats up time and c) with all your associates working remotely, every one gets on with their work and doesn't have to worry about keeping up appearances like Mrs Bucket or getting sucked into meetings and politics.
The things I do miss, however, are the water cooler chats about industry news and happenings, how they affect your franchise and what you might need to do about them. Most of us are social creatures so human interaction is important.
Another cool thing about consulting is that you get to balance getting out to seeing clients and potential clients with days in the home office (sometimes the garden table in nice weather, that can't be beat, although the birds chirping is a dead giveaway on phone calls) either beavering away on research and reports or doing business development. Until becoming a consultant, I hated the telephone and avoided it like the plague as colleagues who encountered a full VM box will attest. As a consultant it is a central part of the day, so I have grown to love my Bluetooth gadget that works so seamlessly with the iPhone. It really has revolutionised my life, especially with all the useful apps that allow you to share data across computers to the cloud.
So what does a typical week look like in Pharma?
Arrive, grab coffee while the network takes an eternity to boot, do VM and attempt to answer some emails, rush off to meetings while wondering while such meetings exist. Debate between grabbing a late hasty lunch at desk and attempt a few more emails and VMs or sit down for half an hour with colleagues. Get back to office, but get pulled into another meeting. Then your assistant reminds you about a meeting with a vendor you forgot about. It is 3.30pm and you wonder where the day has gone. Finally get some 'me' time to do some real work. Colleagues pop in and out with questions or wanting a chat. Finally leave the office later than you hoped and dice with the tail end of the rush hour traffic. Arrive home stressed and tired, needing to do some more work after dinner and pack for a 6.30am flight to some conference the next morning.
Last week was a typical one for me. A couple of days working on client projects, all in different diesases and cancers with different outputs, two days of business meetings, a day of business development and administration, including working on the concept for a new brochure on forecasting. The only travel was to client or supplier meetings, no daily commute and no wasted time. This week is similar, more work to finish, some client/prospect meetings, some short teleconferences and travel to the ASCO conference in Orlando. The end result is less stress, more fun, but also more uncertainty. At least working for a Pharma company guarantees a regular paycheck every month, consulting does not.
Time is more focused as a consultant, less waste and less meetings. Oh, but it's not all hunky dory: I'm still bad at expenses though, please excuse me while I dash and catch up on three months worth before the next major conference hits. Unfortunately, some things never change.
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