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employee stories

Life as a Scientific Strategy Director

Jessica | Scientific Strategy Director | Pennsylvania, USA | 9/19/2023

Jessica, based in Horsham, US, works as a Scientific Strategy Director in our Medical team. Here she shares her unconventional journey into medical communications and what she finds most rewarding about her work.

What led you to your current role in Scientific Strategy?

I grew up aspiring to be a veterinarian, having shadowed my mom at her clinic during my childhood. I followed the conventional path in academia to attain my Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) at the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine in 2009. With my accreditation I worked at a small animal emergency and general practice for 3 years. During this time, I realized clinical practice was not my passion—while I love animals and medicine, the day-to-day of practice was not fulfilling for me.

I began speaking with friends about alternative career options. As it happened, my friend, a Business Director at Avalere Health, introduced me to medical writing. I started applying for jobs and submitted writing tests to various agencies, and was fortunate to be granted an interview at Avalere Health, where I then accepted an entry-level medical writer role. Subsequently, I sought additional experience outside Avalere Health in medical and value communications, before returning to the organization for an exciting opportunity as a Scientific Advisor, with an added responsibility to grow new business accounts. I worked closely with Scientific Strategy Directors in this new role, which ultimately helped me realize that Scientific Strategy was the path I wanted to pursue.

What does it take to succeed in your role?

In my playbook the keys to success are flexibility, adaptability, motivation, bringing diverse individuals and their brilliant ideas together, and applying the “so what” approach to everything we do.

What are the key highlights of your work week at Avalere Health?

There are certain aspects of my work that I particularly enjoy, many of which were established before I stepped into my current role. I enjoy the collaborative nature of the work, which often involves teams coming together to brainstorm an approach to a new project or troubleshoot an ongoing challenge. These brainstorms usually lead to collaboration with experts from our other disciplines across consulting, marketing, policy, value, evidence, and access. I love being able to tap into my creative side to find solutions to the challenge, my social side when speaking with team members, and my organizational side that loves to check-off a list!

The next most enjoyable part of my job is on-site work with clients and my team. It’s highly rewarding to support new business pitches, advisory boards, workshops, and congresses; these face-to-face experiences allow me (and my team) to gain a better understanding of our clients’ needs and experts’ insights.

Why work for Avalere Health?

Having worked at Avalere Health for more than 6 years, one of the things the organization does exceptionally well is forming teams that complement each other, build each other, and teach each other. I’ve worked across numerous accounts and teams at Avalere Health over the years, and every single one has a diversity of individuals from different countries, backgrounds, and cultures that mesh well and elevate each other to produce high-quality work.

I’m also grateful to be able to consider most of my colleagues my friends—I enjoy their company within and outside the office! My colleagues rally around me when I’m having a challenging day, support me when I’m at full capacity, challenge me to think and create outside my comfort zone, and celebrate with me when we achieve success.

How do you manage your work–life balance?

Avalere Health offers a flexible working schedule which helps me maintain my work–life balance. I work from home most days, which allows me to get my children on the school bus. I also work from the Horsham office from time to time.

Additionally, I prioritize things that nourish my mental and physical wellbeing such as involving my family and friends in as many activities as possible including traveling, horseback riding, CrossFit, baking (both my children love to help!)—and more recently crocheting. I also love reading psychological thriller novels and watching reality TV in my downtime.

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