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Dr Pauline Stewart-long

Pauline Stewart-Long (BSc, PhD) has worked in the pharmacuetical industry for over 30 years with roles of increasing seniority in…

What is your experience in Project Management?

Much of my career was in large Pharma , from a PM role in an international product development team, through to being VP of Project Management in GSK.

How did you get into a PM role?

I was a member of a cross function project team, as a Clinical Operations representative. I was interested in the PM role – I requested and got a 6-month secondment. I knew I wanted to do it after that! I later applied for a permanent PM role and got it.

What is expected of a PM in large pharma?

Coordination of activities, ensuring logical and efficient progression of projects. A ‘Project Leader’ is generally responsible for the strategic issues in the project – the PM is an operational role, ensuring the team work together. I was responsible for keeping plans up to date and making sure they were communicated.

I reported to a manager in the Project Management Office (PMO)

What are some of the challenges for a PM working in a global company?

No direct authority – all project members report to their own functional managers. There are standardised reporting requirements from all projects – they can feel like a regimented process.

These days PM work would be a lot more structured and detailed. A lot of focus on budgets, resources, risk management and reporting.

What do you need to learn?

The skills to operate with influence and persuasion – and to be comfortable with that. You need an understanding of the industry and how drug development operates. You need to work with very different people. ‘Stuff happens’ – there are some difficult people to deal with! You will also need technical/IT skills as you will be interfacing with large PM IT systems.

Generally, PM qualifications are not mandatory to take up a PM role – but most large Pharma would expect you to qualify with something like PMP (The Project Management Institute qualification) and would sponsor you to do it.

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