Thriving in a time of COVID-19: The skills consultants need now more than ever 28 Apr 2020
Like most sectors, the pharmaceutical industry is facing an unparalleled period of uncertainty. Many ongoing trials have paused enrollment while there is an intense focus on the development of therapeutics and vaccines for COVID-19 itself. As pharmaceutical consultants, many of us have weathered challenging times in the past -from recession to redundancies. We are well equipped to adapt, thrive and add value to our clients in a changing environment. In this blog, we explore some of the skills and qualities that we need to embrace now more than ever.
Self-motivation and work-life balance
As consultants, we are used to motivating ourselves and being self-sufficient. However, working entirely remotely may be a new experience for many of us. Isolation and lack of structure can cause even the most highly motivated consultant to suffer from waning productivity and enthusiasm. We recommend drawing on the many available resources and create a personal action plan to boost your motivation. As well as focusing on productivity, don’t forget that it is more important than ever to preserve work/life balance and find ways to recharge batteries.
Building trust with a team
As consultants, we typically parachute into an existing team to provide strategic input or manage a project. We need to be adept at developing rapport quickly with stakeholders to help advance our project’s objectives. In the past, we might have typically used traditional means- perhaps meeting over coffee, lunch, or through 1:1 face to face discussions to build those integral relationships that can help us take our initiatives forward.
In this new remote-working culture, we need to find opportunities to engage with our colleagues from a distance. Efforts like virtual coffee mornings, or after work drinks via video calls can be helpful tools to support rapport building. More fundamentally, we need to carve out specific time to invest in nurturing relationships.
Mastering video calling
Who can forget the case of Professor Robert Kelly, whose children gate-crashed his 2017 BBC World News appearance with perfect comic timing, making the entire family briefly famous? The episode became a cautionary tale for video meeting participants everywhere. Back then, though, for many of us, video calls were a rare and often unwelcome occurrence in our regular working days of office dwelling and face to face meetings.
Professor Kelly’s faux pas would now barely make an impression- over the last few weeks we have seen many more such Zoom missteps from politicians, journalists, and celebrities, as well as possibly from our colleagues and clients. To ensure that we continue to create a professional impression as a consultant, we must master the art of the video call. Presentation is vital as an untidy, cluttered environment gives the wrong message to your customers. If you have difficulty separating your workspace from the rest of your home, consider putting up a screen or use the blur background function if available on the video conferencing tool to avoid visual distractions. Similarly, while more casual attire is likely to be the order of the day when remote working, it is still essential to put your best face forward on camera. There are also more technical elements that we can explore another time – having the right equipment, including cameras and headsets, will also help smooth the video calling experience for yourself and your colleagues.
Networking and business building
How can we engage with prospective customers when the business world as we know it has been upended? This is a pressing concern for many consultants. Like us, you have probably found that since COVID-19 struck your inbox has been full of emails from companies you might have engaged with in the past. Unfortunately, not all communications hit the right note, and it is crucial that when engaging with our industry contacts, we are sensitive to the context of the current crisis. On the other hand, we do have a chance now to engage with our contacts and try to offer real value. With many people feeling a lack of connection, getting in touch with old customers, colleagues, and industry friends is a positive action that we can all take at this time.
PharmaMedic Consultancy offers a unique model for medical and regulatory affairs consultants- by combining our skills, we provide exceptional value and service to our clients. Working with PharmaMedic allows you to maintain your independence and be part of a dynamic, professional and supportive team – the best of both worlds! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.