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Paths to Industry

Malik Appleton, PharmD, MBA: On the Path to Project Leader
May 14, 2024

Malik Appleton, PharmD, MBA
Associate Project Leader

From the beginning of my education at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, I realized that I would end up on a different side of the profession than most of my peers. In contrast to the patient facing curriculum, I showed a stronger interest in both the science behind medications and the processes supporting the development and launch of pharmaceutical products. This led me to develop the short-term goal of landing a postgraduate role that would give me practical experience in the pipeline of bringing drugs to market.

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Paths to Industry

Becoming a Clinical Research Associate (CRA): Neelina Chand's Story
January 31, 2024

Neelina Chand, PharmD, RPh, BCMAS
Clinical Research Associate
Parexel, Inc.
LinkedIn Profile

Hi! I’m Neelina and I’m currently working in Clinical Research/Operations as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) - Investigational Drug Monitor. This is a hybrid role that involves ~75% travel and allows work-from-home for the remaining 25% of my work hours.

Prior to this role, I had gained clinical research experience through the pharmacy program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus but lacked professional experience in clinical trial management. Specifically, I was unfamiliar with managing a clinical trial on a day-to-day basis and the CRA role was a promising path to obtaining this experience.

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Paths to Industry

Chris Fiedziuk, PharmD
March 29, 2021

Chris Headshot

Chris Fiedziuk, PharmD
Associate Medical Director
Area 23 on Hudson
Rutgers University

From the moment I was accepted into pharmacy school, I was set on becoming a community pharmacist and becoming an easily accessible healthcare resource for everyone. The path before me was set and I was ready to advance any way I could to reach my goal. I interned at a pharmacy chain during my years in pharmacy school, gathering experience not only in the practice of pharmacy but also, as I would learn, in a path that I did not want to follow. The more I interned and the closer the graduation date approached, the more anxious I felt. Which is when I realized, I did not want to pursue the community route. The more I dove into what my role at a retail pharmacy would entail and my future moving forward, the more unsure I felt. I wanted this goal since I started college, but here I was, wondering if the path I chose was the right one. Or, was I just not focusing my efforts in the correct direction? I began to seriously consider other opportunities for pharmacists that, to be honest, I did not give a second look initially.

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Paths to Industry

Vincent Loksa, PharmD, MBA, RPh
March 9, 2021


Vincent Loksa, PharmD, MBA, RPh
Pharmacovigilance Scientist
Karyopharm Therapeutics
MCPHS University, Boston

I think the hardest question I have ever had to answer was, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Even as an adult, I still find this question to be a challenge, mostly because you never know how you will like a job until you are performing it. When I was in pharmacy school, I had a hard time defining what it was I planned to do after I graduated. For the longest time, my goal had been to finish school, but I never put much thought into what came next. As I entered my 5th year at MCPHS (P3), I had to start putting some serious consideration into post-grad plans. During the early part of my 6th year (P4), I accepted an offer to work as a retail pharmacist after graduation.

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Paths to Industry

Ramon Kelly, PharmD, RPh, BCMAS
February 2, 2021

Headshot (jpg)

Ramon Kelly, PharmD, RPh, BCMAS
Pharmacovigilance Analyst
Kowa Pharmaceuticals America, Inc.

Sometimes, taking a longer path better prepares you for the journey ahead.

After graduation, I started to map out my career trajectory. I quickly realized that I wasn't satisfied with my role as a community pharmacist. After revisiting my didactic and rotational experiences, I narrowed down my preferred career path choices and decided to pursue an industry position.

With only limited knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, I decided to network with my colleagues to better understand how to start. I received great feedback from fellows and other pharmacists who had made this transition. Exploring and reading all the different career possibilities for PharmDs in the pharmaceutical industry was exciting. I gravitated to courses offered by my program such as Pharmacokinetics, Toxicology, and Drugs of Abuse. I learned about many of the significant incidents that prompted the regulations enacted to monitor marketed drug products' benefits and risk profiles. That's how my fascination with Pharmacovigilance began. After learning more about the role, I knew it could help me build a robust therapeutic area foundation while allowing me to sharpen and utilize my clinical skills to help champion patient safety.

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Paths to Industry

James Jeng, MEng, PharmD
January 6, 2021

James Jeng

Company: AbbVie Inc.

Current Role: US Regulatory Affairs, Advertising and Promotion Manager

Alma Mater: Purdue University, Class of 2019

A non-fellowship path to industry isn’t necessarily a contingency plan. If you find your passion early on within industry, then it may be worthwhile to consider pursuing permanent roles upon graduation. As a student, I believed fellowship was the safest option into industry, and I never considered manager-level positions for entry because I didn’t think I would qualify. However, I hope my story can demonstrate that it’s not an impossible endeavor. It might take some good fortune, but as Thomas Edison once said, “good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning”.

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Paths to Industry

Nafisa King, PharmD
November 16, 2020


Company: PRECISIONscientia

Current Role: Medical Writer, Oncology

Alma Mater: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Pharmacy

There are usually two trajectories into industry: one more traditional (which I like to call "vertical") and the other one I call "horizontal"—which, if you guessed it, is where I fall. My writing path was from the creative to the scientific prescriptive and is now a comfortable combination of the two.

As an undergraduate, I spent most of my days in class, afternoons in the library, and evenings creating stories in a world of science fiction online. I unlocked a well of creativity and allowed my readers to visualize and internalize some of the abstract notions of modern science. At the start of pharmacy school, I took a hiatus from writing and by my third year, it was a long-forgotten hobby.

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Paths to Industry

Alese Vance, PharmD, RPh
October 27, 2020

Alese Vance

Company: Genmab

Current Role: Global Medical Affairs Consultant

Alma Mater: Rutgers University

Throughout pharmacy school, I heard many of my classmates speaking with such excitement about the career paths they had chosen to take. I was happy for them, but I often felt uneasy about the simple fact that I wasn’t sure which path I wanted to take. My unsettlement about the future changed when I had the privilege of experiencing an APPE rotation at Daiichi Sankyo in US Medical Affairs. While performing various projects that assisted in the drug launching process, I became passionate about being a small part of a larger working organism. During those few weeks, I was able to taste a little bit of how a pharmacist could impact the pharmaceutical industry world.

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Paths to Industry

Alyssa Lowder, PharmD, RPh, MBA
October 22, 2020

Alyssa Lowder

Company: Sanofi Genzyme

Current Role: Manager, CLDP Program

Alma Mater: University of Florida College of Pharmacy, Gainesville Campus

Going into college for the first time, I always knew that pharmacy was the end goal. But through some serendipitous circumstances, I ended up majoring in business finance while completing my pharmacy prerequisite courses. Over the course of those 4 years, I ended up falling in love with business; so much so that when I entered pharmacy school in 2015, I was determined to integrate it into my future career.

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Paths to Industry

Jason Tseng, PharmD, RPh
August 15, 2020

PharmD Tseng Jason

Company: W2O Arcus

Current Role: Medical Writer

Alma Mater: Philadelphia College of Pharmacy

During my time in pharmacy school, I tried to learn about the various career paths for pharmacists and wanted to see which one best fit my interests. Initially, I worked in community and hospital pharmacy settings, however, I found them to be similar and routine. During my APPE rotations, I tried to pick areas outside of my comfort zone that were interesting and would also broaden my knowledge of potential careers. My rotations covered a wide variety of areas from internal medicine to emergency medicine and even a medical mission trip to Guatemala. During these rotations, I realized I enjoyed responding to drug information inquiries and learning about novel therapies not previously taught in pharmacy school. I knew then that I wanted a career that would combine these aspects of pharmacy that I enjoyed.

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Paths to Industry

Kimberly Watson, PharmD
July 8, 2020

Kimberly Watson

Company: Pfizer

Current Role: Medical Scientific Associate

Alma Mater: Howard University College of Pharmacy

If your talent and skills match your passion and organizational need, you will always have job satisfaction.

I decided to attend pharmacy school because I have always had an interest in healthcare and the evolving role of pharmacists—who play an integral role in patient monitoring, medical information, preventative care, and counseling.

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Paths to Industry

Sheneisha White, PharmD, RPh, MBA
June 9, 2020

Sheneisha White, PharmD, RPh, MBA

Company: Pfizer

Current Role: Territory Business Manager

Alma Mater: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

“Delay does not mean denial.”

During my time as a pharmacy student at Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, I was President of SNPhA, APhA-ASP, and other professional organizations for four years. I worked diligently to educate my classmates and faculty about opportunities for pharmacists outside of retail and clinical—I wanted to highlight that pharmacists could do more and that pursuing a career in industry could open many doors. I was even able to secure Eli Lilly and Bristol-Myers Squibb to come and speak at my school about their industry roles.

After realizing that my path did not include a fellowship or residency, I applied for business school at Florida State College (FSU). While attending FSU and studying for my boards to become licensed, I began the search for a role in industry. I wasn’t sure about which role was best for me. I knew most about becoming a Medical Science Liaison, since that’s where most PharmDs I knew navigated to, but continued to explore other options that would also allow me to leverage my MBA.

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Paths to Industry

Mitchell Linton, PharmD
June 9, 2020

Professional shot

Company and Department: AbbVie, Sales

Role: Immunology Sales Representative in Rheumatology

Alma mater: Howard University

Since the beginning of pharmacy school, I knew I wanted to eventually work behind the scenes in a field that had the potential to improve patient health on a global scale. At the time, I hadn't yet learned that the pharmaceutical industry would provide that exact opportunity. Over the past few years, I connected with many pharmacists currently working in industry who shared their experiences and helped me realize that what I really wanted was the ability to marry my clincal knowledge with my business acumen—that's how I could truly make a difference.

Though many secure a fellowship after graduation, the landscape is growing increasingly competitive and I knew I needed to research alternative pathways to industry. After consulting my mentors, I learned more about pursuing sales full time and the doors that could open for me. I attended a sales conference where I had the opportunity to interview and apply for my future role in sales at AbbVie Pharmaceuticals. While interviewing, I felt like I was able to effectively demonstrate the value that my education and background would add to the company. Many commercial fellowship programs have rotations in sales because of its focus on product knowledge and company insight. I knew this was the right starting point for me.

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Paths to Industry

Lily Earnest, PharmD, RPh, MBA
May 22, 2020

Lily Earnest

Company: Genentech

Current Role: Clinical Specialist

Alma Mater: University of Southern California

When I first started pharmacy school, I thought for sure that I wanted to become a clinical pharmacist and do a PGY1 in acute care. In my first year, our school promoted some of the dual degrees they offered and I decided to apply for the MBA. To be honest, I didn’t have a good reason for applying except for the thought that the extra business degree might come in handy if I ever decided to go into hospital administration later in my career. My second year when I started business school, I discovered a hidden passion for marketing, which led me to completely reimagine how I wanted to build out the rest of my career.

Business school really opened my eyes to all the possibilities outside of traditional pharmacy and I never looked back. From there, I focused on talking to as many people as I could across pharma and consulting companies to learn how to best marry my two degrees and set myself up for long term success in the business world. The Commercial Rotation Development Program (CRDP) program at Genentech stood out to me the most because it was a rotational program that would allow me to build a strong foundation in marketing and sales within a company that aligned with my background in science and pharmacy.

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Paths to Industry

Tatsiana “Tanya” Verstak, PharmD, MS
May 6, 2020

Tanya Verstak

Company: Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Current Role: Lead Pharmacovigilance Scientist

Alma Mater: University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, Class of 2020

Prior to pharmacy school, I worked as a clinical trials coordinator and had my first exposure to industry. I mostly worked with MSLs and monitors, but over time I met several professionals with a PharmD that held a multitude of various positions within the industry. I had always wanted a career that combined my passion for helping people with my desire to work on cutting edge research, so I decided to pursue a PharmD with hopes of advancing both my scientific knowledge and clinical skills.

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Paths to Industry

Mary Li, PharmD
April 19, 2020

Mary Li

Company: AstraZeneca

Current Role: Medical Scientist in Late Phase Immuno-Oncology

Alma Mater: University of Maryland Baltimore, Class of 2016

Four years ago, I was in your very shoes, approaching graduation and wondering what I was going to do with my life. For those of you reading this, I hope my story provides you with some inspiration, as I poured over these IPhO spotlights myself in those days of praying for a job in industry, and it truly gave me hope as to what I could achieve.

I was a late starter in my interest of industry. I thought industry was all intense research and benchwork in labs, working by myself, and as I was a people person, I thought it wouldn’t be a place for me. Then, as I attended AMCP roundtables hosted by my school and read over the Rutgers Fellowship Brochure, I was excited to find that there were many opportunities besides lab work in industry, and they sounded interesting and innovative.

I was lucky enough to get into an FDA rotation before Midyear and my school placed my Eli Lilly rotation afterward. Midyear, as many of you know, is a grueling process, and I completed 36 interviews in 4 days (which looking back, may have been a bit excessive). I waited and waited until late January, when I realized I wouldn’t get an onsite interview, as some of my friends had already received offers. I thought it was nearly impossible to get a job in industry without a fellowship, so I decided to try for a residency, thinking that additional clinical skills could only help me to get an industry job later. I ended up interviewing onsite at multiple hospitals, but ultimately didn’t match, the first or second time.

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Paths to Industry

Mahwish Khan, PharmD, RPh
April 19, 2020

Mahwish Khan

Company: Eisai Inc., Scientific Communications, EGNBU

Current Role: Medical Information Specialist

Alma Mater: Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy, Class of 2019

Since the beginning of pharmacy school, I always knew I wanted to pursue a career path far from the norm. I did not know what it was until I hosted my very first event on campus, which highlighted the unconventional roles of pharmacists. This event showcased careers in public health, managed care and pharmaceutical industry. I was utterly in awe of the accomplishments made by industry pharmacists and aspired to be a leader in this field someday.

Like many of my peers, I worked in the retail setting for the majority of my professional career. Although there were many aspects which I appreciated about this field; this was not how I wanted to utilize my degree. During my final year of pharmacy school, I began to do intensive research on specific departments within the pharmaceutical industry. I found that functions within medical affairs intrigued me the most.

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Paths to Industry

Gina Kim, PharmD
April 14, 2020

Gina Kim

Company: Medpace

Current Role: Clinical Research Associate

Alma Mater: Regis University

My curiosity to explore and discover, as well as my desire to build knowledge, naturally drew me to industry. Prior to entering pharmacy school, I had worked in a research lab and gained experience as a pharmacy technician in the community retail setting. In pharmacy school, the integrated curriculum focused on Team-Based Learning at Regis was a good fit and allowed me to hone my teamwork skills by committing to my team’s success. In my first year, I had the wonderful opportunity to be a pharmacy intern at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

At the time, my career plans were focused on residency and becoming a clinical pharmacist. Eager to encounter new ideas, people and activities, I became a student leader in professional organizations, volunteered in community outreach programs, and took on extracurricular projects. My journey through pharmacy school was steady going, with the occasional setback and sacrifice that occur on one’s path to success. I learned a lot about myself through this experience including recognizing my resiliency and perseverance. By my fourth year in pharmacy school, I had grown ambivalent of my initial pursuit of residency. I was torn between what I thought I should do versus what I actually wanted to do.

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Paths to Industry

Phillip Litmanovich, PharmD, RPh
April 11, 2020

Phillip Litmanovich, PharmD, RPh

Company: Alexion Pharmaceuticals

Current Role: Medical Information Specialist, Global Medical Information

Alma Mater: MCPHS University, Boston

There is always more than one path to a goal. To those whose goal is working in the pharmaceutical industry, I would beckon you to first define what it is you would be passionate about doing. For myself, defining this was the first and most crucial step in beginning my path to a fulfilling career in industry.

Throughout my time in pharmacy school I did not put much thought into what career track would provide me with the type of job I found satisfying. Like many of my peers I began working as a pharmacist in the retail setting. Quickly realizing that for myself, this was not how I wanted to use my degree, I took time to investigate the different career opportunities for a pharmacist. I reached out to colleagues who worked in the industry in various roles, trying to understand what it is they did and whether I could see myself in a similar role. I found myself intrigued by the function that pharmacists had in medical information; a focus on understanding and educating others about therapeutic areas and medications, distilling down a wealth of information and using it to support physicians.

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Paths to Industry

Syed Zafar, PharmD
April 6, 2020

Syed Zafar

Company: Greenwich Biosciences

Current Role: Pharmacovigilance Scientist

Alma Mater: MCPHS University, Boston

If you focus on the finish line and reverse engineer the steps to get there, you'll be able to reach the end.

My interest in the pharmaceutical industry began during my first professional year of pharmacy school. It was at this point in my academic career that I started to learn about the opportunities for a pharmacist within the healthcare system. The concept of the pharmaceutical industry appealed to me for many reasons, but one of the main reasons was to have a global patient impact.

As I learned where I wanted to be after my education, I began to delve into more of the roles within the pharmaceutical industry. I joined organizations at my school, such as IPhO, to gain more insight. During my second professional year, I helped start the first chapter of ISPE (International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering) at my university. These opportunities not only provided me with immense knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry but helped me connect with like-minded individuals and respected industry professionals.

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