How joining Purple's graduate scheme proved I was a geek at heart

The world of marketing is very new to me. Being the new Graduate Scientific Coordinator at Purple is my first role outside of the lab and is therefore a completely different environment. I was always a little worried about such a big change, and when asked at interview if I was a geek at heart, I answered abashedly “erm...yes.” Such an accusing question didn’t help with my concerns. Was this going to be a problem? My previous experiences have been diverse lab-based research projects. I spent a year in Sweden studying the metabolic cost of vision in cave animals which involved quantifying the proportion of energy dedicated to their visual processes and considering the role of this cost in their evolution. My most recent position was in Z├╝rich, investigating a new fracture-repair therapy in pre-clinical drug trials using a technique called polarised Raman microspectroscopy, which is a relatively new method in analysing the components of bone tissue.

Over the last few years I developed an interest in the pharmaceutical industry and I came to Purple to better understand how new pharmaceutical products are brought to market. In particular, I am interested in how campaigns are produced to make sure products reach the patients who need them. My role here is to support the healthcare accounts with the technical aspects of our projects. This involves interpreting client comments, checking references and helping the team understand the context and content of new projects. When a fast turn-around for amends is required, familiarity with specialist vocabulary is often very useful. Medical writers and client-side account managers may use highly specific and technical language in comments and these require translation into actions for our artworking and design team. Naturally it is impossible to have a knowledge base covering all therapy areas, and consequently I often dive into the research literature surrounding areas which are new to me. I find this aspect extremely enjoyable since I can continue to learn and stay close to novel pharmaceutical developments.

My time here has already proved to be a great learning experience. So far I have seen how diverse the jobs are and how the agency operates to complete each successfully. Each job is passed between many people with a range of skill sets, therefore careful orchestration is required to ensure that it is completed on time, on budget and to the brief. This is further complicated when considering the code of practice which needs to be adhered to when working within pharmaceutical marketing. Having previously been a small part of the huge amount of research that goes into producing a new line of therapy, it is interesting to see how pre-clinical and clinical data are used in marketing materials to support the marketing of a product.

The areas I have found most intriguing are the planning and implementation of marketing campaigns. Every single aspect is carefully considered and optimised in order to ensure its success. I have been impressed by the use of digital technology in our work, before coming here I hadn’t considered how newer technologies, such as tablets, can be used as a sales tool. By creating a bespoke, interactive slide deck on a tablet, a salesperson will have an engaging and informative resource to complement more traditional printed media. As well as technical knowledge and abilities, other skills are required to make the agency run effectively. Having good interpersonal skills is essential. Building good relationships with colleagues and clients allows effective communication on projects and may even help secure future business.

The personality of the agency emanates from the people. Purple People are enthusiastic, professional, positive, talented and fun and this resonates through the agency and the work we do and I am proud to offer my specialist scientific expertise. Two months into this role, I feel a more accurate and honest way to answer if I am a geek at heart would be “definitely", and you wouldn’t have to go so deep down to see it.”

Rowan Softley

Rowan is this years recruit under Purple's graduate scheme. Working across all the pharma accounts his attention to detail, strong scientific and medical background and his hardworking attitude means Rowan has been a great addition to the Purple healthcare team.