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From Clinical Trials to Corporate Comms - Lucy's ICON Career Journey

Posting date: 27/03/2024
Author: Inside ICON

Exploring Lucy's Path: From Science to Communications

Lucy's career journey is a testament to the power of adaptability and seizing opportunities as they arise. "I've been in Clinical Research since I was 19, starting as an administrator in a local Clinical Research Organisation. As it was a small company, I had the opportunity to work in different areas such as finance and facilities, speaking with clients and managing investigator payments.

This diverse learning experience led Lucy to look for an opportunity to work in a larger organisation as a Clinical Research Associate which led to her joining PRA Health Sciences in 2008. "The thing I really liked about the company was the vast range of Clinical Trials that I would get to work on. As a CRA, I got to work with both large Pharma and Biotech clients, across a wide range of therapeutic areas.

As has been the case with Lucy's career path, her next move was less common than most - moving into a CRA Manager position. "A more common move from being a CRA is to a Clinical Trial Manager or Operational Lead, but that wasn't really for me. I was more interested in the people side, and I knew in my heart that's what I wanted to do."

Fast-forward to 2021, having undertaken a range of Clinical Operations, Quality & Training roles, Lucy soon found herself drawn to a different aspect of the corporate landscape: Communications.

Skills Transferability: Lucy's Journey of Continuous Learning

Skills transferability lies at the heart of Lucy's career trajectory, enabling her to thrive in diverse roles and specialisms. "The ability to transfer skills across domains is a valuable asset in today's ever-evolving job market," she affirms. Lucy's journey is a testament to the power of adaptability and lifelong learning. "My background in Clinical Research helps me understand the needs of the operational service teams I partner with in my current role," she explains. "I learned a lot in my previous role about the importance of transparent, timely, clear communication when it comes to ensuring changes successfully land with all stakeholders."

By embracing a mindset of continuous learning and self-improvement, Lucy remains agile and resilient in the face of change, leveraging her diverse skill set to excel in new endeavours. "When moving from role to role, I'm always concerned about preparing myself the best I can for the new challenges ahead" she shares. "As well as seeking out practical guidance such as systems training, I’m always keen to be prepared with any new soft skills required. For example, when preparing to be a successful people leader ahead of my first managerial role, I asked for certain training so that I could feel more comfortable in my role and so that I could best support my team, and I think that really helped me."

Through her example, Lucy inspires others to recognise the inherent value of skills transferability and embrace the opportunities it presents for personal and professional growth.

Seizing the moment

"I feel like things have organically changed for me rather than having a plan of I'm going to do X and then I'll become Y - it's never been my mindset really," she reflects. "I feel like I have prepared myself for when the right opportunities arose," she advises. "I couldn't have predicted when PRA and ICON integrated, there would be an opening for a Corporate Communications Business Partner. When I read the job description, it felt like it was made for me. It felt like I was reading what I wanted to do next."

Drawing upon her experiences, Lucy navigates career changes with a sense of purpose and optimism, inspiring others to embrace new opportunities and challenges as catalysts for personal and professional development.

Navigating Career Transitions

Transitioning from a role rooted in science to one centred on communication has been a natural one for Lucy. "I've had quite unconventional development process, and I think the advice I would give is just not to be scared of that. I feel like there's often a tendency for people to follow the path that is most obvious, even if that's not the right fit for you." she reflects.

"There are some common pathways from one role to the next. It may be laid out in front of you, but if you feel that your skills lie elsewhere, then that's where you need to be developing yourself, so that when that opportunity does arise, you’re ready for it.”

“These days there are more career options available for people depending on where their skill set lies" she notes. "It's about understanding your own skill set, and then finding out what's available in those areas".

Collaboration in Action

Cross-functional collaboration lies at the heart of Lucy's approach, and Lucy strives to cultivate a communication strategy where diverse perspectives are valued and unique needs are met. "Colleagues in different departments and roles can have very different working environments, whether they're on their feet in the lab, at a desk all day, or travelling the country, just like I used to as a CRA. So we have to be mindful that colleagues are going to ingest communication in different ways." she explains.

With inclusivity in mind, last year Lucy conducted a series of focus groups with employees across the company to learn more about their habits and challenges with communication, and this has led to the implementation of several improvements to help all employees to stay up to date at ICON.

Looking Ahead: Lucy's Vision

Looking ahead, Lucy is excited about the possibilities that lie on the horizon within her current role. "I've been in this role almost three years, but I'm still learning and I feel like the role is evolving and developing as I am." she shares. Last but not least, we asked Lucy how she foresees integration of AI in certain aspects of communications: "I think AI can potentially help us as a practical tool, in a similar way to an online thesaurus, but we're definitely not going to be replacing the human art of writing with artificial intelligence."

If you're interested in reading more on how AI is impacting the Clinical Research Industry, visit our article today.

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