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All things Pharma

Small is beautiful (Part 3) Have you got what it takes to be a big fish?

Welcome to the concluding part in our series looking at the attraction of small to medium-sized companies. We have already seen that SMEs are rising in the popularity ranks, and dispelled the myth that smaller companies offer inferior remuneration packages. This month, we take a look at some of the other remaining attractions that make small beautiful, and assess what it takes to thrive as a big fish in a small pond.

Recognition for your success

Pf’s recent survey cited “Recognition for Success” as a key area where small/medium-sized companies achieved greater levels of satisfaction than big pharma. In fact, 33% of respondents from the top 5 said that they do not feel their achievements are recognised. This is an important element in job satisfaction because recognition makes an employee feel valued and opens up opportunities for promotion. Recognition is linked closely to Job Security and Personal Development, two other motivational factors that scored highly among smaller companies.

The value of recognising achievement is demonstrated by a number of SMEs. For example, 78% of Merck Pharmaceutical’s representatives expressed satisfaction with how their achievements were recognised by their company, and this is significantly superior to the industry norm of 48%. This stems from an overarching company philosophy. “Merck Pharmaceuticals has always had a powerful belief in the importance of recognising an individual’s success and commitment to the company, and one meaningful spin-off is a genuine ethos of promoting from within,” said Dr Jim Golby, HR Manager. “The majority of Merck’s managers have “carried the bag” as medical representatives with Merck. This is true of our Regional Managers and Business Managers, our newly appointed Head of Sales, Stuart Ellison-Smith and also our Head of Marketing, Training Manager, Head of HR and Training and even includes myself. Yet more impressively, this is also true of our recently appointed Managing Director, David Garmon-Jones, who also joined Merck as a GP/Hospital Rep. This emphatically proves that you really can go all the way to the top in Merck!”

Your efforts are recognised by senior management.”

Initially attracted to the company through the recommendations of a friend, Andy Bailey has worked for Schering-Plough for five and a half years, and has recently been promoted to Key Account Manager. We asked him how Schering- Plough’s attitude to recognition makes a difference to his motivation and job satisfaction. “Your efforts are recognised, not only by your line manager, but by senior management also. I have been fortunate enough to win the Presidents Award, where the top performers from each sales team and their partners are taken abroad to celebrate their success. Bonus payments are always on offer. Even smaller achievements are recognised by small gifts or notes of thanks from senior management, which motivate you to achieve further success.”

“Nobody’s performance goes unnoticed.”
Throughout her seventeen-year career at Solvay, Julie Williams has risen through the ranks from Trainee Medical Representative to Healthcare Development Executive. We asked what appeals to her about working for a small to medium-sized company and why Solvay has kept her loyalty for so many years.

“Solvay believe in reward and recognition for their top performers, this, I believe, has been the driving force behind my success. Each of the sales team has individual targets tailored to the potential of the area they cover, which they are accountable for and, equally, rewarded for if they achieve them. The reward program Solvay has in place is fair and rewards the top performing reps each year. These reps enter the hall of fame by having their photo displayed for all personnel to see, so nobody’s performance goes unnoticed.”

Getting to run your own business

“Creativity is the key.” Karen Myers has worked with Solvay for nine years, initially through a contract sales organisation, and is now working as Senior CHD Account Executive. For Karen, flexibility is a major benefit of working for smaller organisations.

“Over the years my personal circumstances have changed and Solvay has allowed me to be flexible in the way in which I work. This kind of flexibility and consideration has been significant in building my loyalty to Solvay. It is a two way street. Solvay has recently moved towards Key Account working and now more than ever we have autonomy in how we perform our role. We are all encouraged to look upon the workings of our territories as if it were our own business. Creativity is the key to our effectiveness.”

“We are always encouraged to make our own decisions.” Jason Hulley, currently a hospital sales specialist with Schering-Plough, has worked in small/mediumsized pharma companies for the last 6 years, following 2 years with one of the top 5 corporations. He says the independence he now enjoys makes a big difference.

“With the bigger pharma companies it felt like I was doing a good job that wasn’t necessarily being recognised – due to the sheer number of representatives. In this role in particular we are always encouraged to make our own decisions and look for new ways of doing things. Business integrity, however, is very important to Schering-Plough and everything we do is based on building trust with customers.”

“Delivering return on investment is vital.” Martin Cluness, Regional Sales Manager with Solvay, has worked with the company for fourteen years. We asked him how the autonomy associated with SMEs affects his role as a manager. “Our national business strategy and sales targets are clear and well communicated, however, the responsibility for delivering these locally lies very much with myself and my regional team. This is a tremendous opportunity to take responsibility for your local business and you are truly accountable for your own success. This has the great benefit of encouraging sales people to develop strong commercial skills where delivering return on investment is vital. I organise my own schedule to ensure appropriate time is spent with team members and on any ongoing project work.”

Because only the best will do

Independence in your role and recognition for your achievements might sound very appealing, but with independence comes responsibility and recognition means visibility. For some people, the knowledge that they are completely accountable for their area of the business might be terrifying, whereas others will thrive on the responsibility and this will drive them on to success.

We asked our interviewees what qualities they feel are vital to succeed as a big fish in a small pond. The responses were varied:

“The ability to be noticed for all the right reasons!” “Hard work, drive and determination to succeed, a natural ability to earn customers and colleagues trust, an innovator and the desire to go the extra mile.”

“There are effectively no “hiding places”. You are responsible for your own actions and for delivering the business goals for the company. Simply put, you have to be capable, credible and respected.”

Whatever the skill sets required for success, it is clear that small to medium-sized companies provide a range of career opportunities for aspiring representatives. Not only do SMEs offer great financial rewards, the benefits of a real team atmosphere and supportive management, moreover they provide the opportunity for true autonomy, give employees the chance to shine and are not afraid to recognise and reward achievement.

It just goes to prove the adage that size does not matter. If you have the skills to succeed, small really can be beautiful.

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