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Consultants within life science

Consultants have become a common and popular resource within many fields. Life science is not an exception to this.

“I think we are looking at an increase in demand for qualified consultants within life sciences,” says Jens Mogensen, CEO for Scientific Solutions.

There are two main reasons for this increase according to Jens Mogensen. One is the need of many companies to accommodate a greater flexibility – to have access to expertise at short notice and for a limited period of time. Examples are the need for staff that can cover for parental or sick leave or jump right into well-defined and shorter projects. “It takes a lot of time and energy to find and train competent staff. By hiring a consultant the companies can take a shortcut and many appreciate that,” explains Jens Mogensen.

The other reason is the increased need for flexibility with regard to head count. “Many companies will experience a hiring freeze from time to time but still need to cover their need for staff within certain areas. In those cases a consultant may be perfect – the costs are a little higher at the time but the company has no obligation for further employment at the end of the project. This is a good example of Risk Management,” says Mogensen.

The right person for the right task

Life science is undergoing rapid changes and thereby the competence demands also change quickly. Consultant agencies like Scientific Solutions cover areas including clinical trials, regulatory affairs, drug safety, research and development, sales and marketing and medical affairs. “Research contains so many different areas and we are trying to cover the whole process from idea to product on the market,” says Mogensen. Most consultants working for Scientific Solutions have a background within natural or medical sciences and about half of them have a doctoral degree. “Those consultants are often at the forefront in terms of new techniques and can provide the companies with cutting edge science and knowledge,” says Mogensen, giving the rapid development within genetic sequencing and subsequent data processing as an example.

Sofia found the perfect job

Sofia Rendón Rapp is a pharmacist, with background working for both the Medical Products Agency and the pharmaceutical industry. She has been working for Scientific Solutions for seven months. She confirms Jens Mogensen’s notion that many pharmaceutical companies are hesitant to employ staff and rather take in consultants. “Consultant agencies have become the new kind of public employment services,” she says, emphasizing that this can be a win-win situation for both companies and employees, since it gives both parties a chance to evaluate if they function together before making longer commitments.

Sofia Rendón Rapp is currently working for the small virtual pharmaceutical company Pharmalink AB. She sees little difference in being a consultant or an employee since she is contracted for a longer project. Being a consultant for the right consultancy agency can have the benefits of an extra support system as well as social activities, which increase the personal network within the life science community. Other positive sides of the job as a consultant are own responsibilities, the possibility to manage both time and projects freely and the use of personal competence and skills. Sofia Rendón Rapp is currently in the process of transferring from Scientific Solutions to Pharmalink. For her, this is a natural step since she thinks her current position at Pharmalink suits her personality and background perfectly.

An increased need for bioinformatics

New advanced methods within life sciences generate a huge amount of data and knowledge in bioinformatics are increasingly needed to store, analyze and interpret this complex information. Daniel Soeria-Atmadja gained a doctoral degree from Uppsala University in 2008, after a short postdoctoral period at the diagnostics company Phadia he turned to Scientific Solutions. “I thought that being a consultant sounded like a good option, I have always wanted to work for AstraZeneca and I knew that they had assignments there,” he says.

Daniel Soeria-Atmadja has been at AstraZeneca for the past two years and qualifies therefore as one of the long-term consultants. “Apart from my immediate boss we are six consultants and one employee in the group where I work,” he says, citing the current employment market as a reason for that combination of work forces. He is planning to stay on as a consultant but is also very happy about being at AstraZeneca.

Dialogue between industry, academia and the clinic

Many of the consultants have a background in academia or in the clinic. “It is not unusual for some of them to keep a part-time position and that encourages dialogue between these different arenas of competence,” says Jens Mogensen, pointing out the potential of the combination of different worlds. A closer dialogue is often an important aspect of developing a particular product or service and can also serve the individual in their personal development.

“Giving people the opportunity to fulfill their own potential and be creative leads to fantastic development and more positive results for individuals and companies alike – and that is what we are trying to achieve at Scientific Solutions,” he concludes.