What does a job as a Senior Project Manager in the clinical research industry look like?
As a project manager, it is my responsibility to keep all team members aligned, while I assure that the team delivers what we agreed upon with the Sponsor and that the working relationship with the Sponsor is good. However, every day is different and there is a lot of variation in the tasks a Senior Project Manager does. Currently, I work on two different projects; one project is in the maintenance phase, while the other project is still in the start-up phase.
What is your favourite part of the job? And the most challenging one?
I really enjoy working with all the different team members, and to make sure everyone is collaborating to achieve milestones and goals within set timelines. But making sure that everyone is on the same page is also the most challenging part, as people usually work on several projects at the same time and have their own way of working.
How would you describe the company culture at Julius Clinical?
The atmosphere at Julius Clinical feels open; it almost feels like you are working with close friends or even family, even though I realise this may sound cheesy. People are very interested in each other, both professionally and personally. Communication is short lined, and everyone is encouraged to speak their mind and share ideas. Although there are clear layers in the company, you can approach anyone in the organisation, including the management team. Given how much the company has grown in the past years, that is really special. People are very committed and loyal to the company.
How is Julius Clinical different from your previous employees?
In the past, I used to say that I would never work for a CRO because I thought that working for a company that doesn’t develop a product itself would be much less interesting. However, as soon as I was introduced to Julius Clinical, I changed my mind. I was excited about the company and its people, and now I also know that it is just as interesting to work for a services company; we’re very engaged with our Sponsors and it feels as if you’re working on your own product. Besides, I like that I am now more involved with the scientific part. I work closely together with several Key Opinion Leaders and in this way, I learn a lot about what is going on in the therapeutic areas of my projects.
How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance?
I have 3 young children and therefore things can be busy at home, but Julius Clinical helps me to combine my work life with my private life seamlessly. They are open to discuss what would be best for you as an employee and adjusting your work schedule if needed. I can work part-time and have parental leave, which makes it possible for me to pick up my kids from school and spend the afternoon with them. It also helps that my colleagues are close and understand my situation; I value that a lot. But it is also my task as a member of the Work Council to assure a healthy work-life balance is realised for all other Julius Clinical’s employees.
How do you become a Project Manager at Julius Clinical?
The classical route is to enter the industry as a Clinical Trial Assistant (CTA) or Clinical Research Associate (CRA) (depending on your entry level), after which you can become a Clinical Team Lead (CTL) and ultimately a Project Manager (PM). Because I started as a CRA myself, I can easily relate to what CRAs in my team encounter when they have to communicate with a site or CTL. But nowadays, there are more ways to become a PM than just the classical route. Julius Clinical has a traineeship for people that already have a PhD or worked in another field within the clinical research industry so that they can become a PM via a different path.
What skills have you found vital as a Project Manager?
Ownership, leadership, oversight and good communication skills are very important. You need to be able to lead and have oversight quite easily and be able to zoom out and pinpoint the issue, so you can start working with the team on solving this issue. Situational leadership is also vital; every person is different and has their own way of working, background and cultural references; you need to be able to recognize what type of person you have in front of you and to be able to adjust your leadership style to some extent.
We would like to thank Larah for taking the time to give us a glimpse into the role of (senior) Project Manager (PM) at Julius Clinical. Do you want to know more? Or do you have a question for Larah? Don’t hesitate and get in contact!
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