After taking a week off work decompressing without a laptop (yes really), I've been catching up on my reading over the weekend and browsing the long list of diverse blogs that I follow from tech to venture capital, sports, science, medicine and of course, cancer. One article in particular caught my eye – on preoccupations in the NY Times Jobs section from last Friday. You can get the gist of it from the quote below:
"SIX years ago, fresh out of Stanford with a degree in economics, I had what many would consider the perfect job. I was a management consultant at a prestigious firm, with an office overlooking the San Francisco Bay and a shiny new ThinkPad to boot.
My co-workers were intelligent, ambitious and fun, and I interacted with high-level executives at Fortune 500 companies. My perks included free concert tickets, ski trips and fancy dinners. I was on track to be earning six figures within three years. It was the good life I had been chasing along with my peers at Stanford.
So why wasn’t I happy?
After six months of living this supposed dream, my day-to-day life was far from satisfying. I was working 14-hour days, and most of my time seemed to be spent nudging boxes around in PowerPoint slides and agonizing over the wording of bullet-pointed items.
It felt wrong to be dreading work at such a young age. I wanted to wake up each morning excited about what was ahead. I wanted to create something of my own."
Source: NY Times
What was interesting was having just spent time away from the office decompressing and having fun in the real world away from computers, reports, PowerPoint, phone calls and meetings, the comments struck a chord with me about the Pharma treadmill. How many people go from meeting to meeting in a whirlwind, dashing off to catch a plane to yet another weekend Advisory Board or conference, creating endless reports for the higher ups, handling calls from sales reps, even pushing boxes around on PowerPoint? I'm willing to bet it's a lot of people.
How many people have gone to a major medical conference, only to spend most of the time stuck in their hotel in meetings or writing slides for some deliverable, while the really interesting stuff being presented on the clinical data was missed?
One of the many questions I get as a consultant is would I go back to Pharma/Biotech land? Maybe, for a truly unique and challenging opportunity to make a difference, but while I enjoyed the time I spent and the most of the people I worked with, work life balance in the US is a lot harder to attain than in Europe. It's gruelling and full of politics and consensus. This means making things happen takes a lot of time and energy, plus if you don't watch out the daily grind can be more driven by the immediacy and urgency of tactics rather than strategy.
Think about it, those sales trimester meetings come round all too quickly!
As someone running a small strategic consultancy firm, I can reach out and help more people, be my own boss, focus on the strategic impact, have more fun and be inspired by some wonderful people doing great things. Most important of all, it's like being a kid in the candy store again – full of excitement and exuberance for what's happening in cancer research, discovering what might have an impact on better patient outcomes and improved quality of life. What's not to like?
Over the last few weeks, I've had the pleasure of meeting or talking with some really dynamic and creative people that stimulated my thinking and made me realise that the future in oncology is still bright and full of enthusiasm for the next big thing. Kudos to them for keeping the vision and inspiration going. Life tends to back winners with imagination, long may it continue.
If your drug, technology or device doesn't make a meaningful difference, what's the point?
Photo Credit: Geus2006