Career Insights

by Admin 1. January 2006 05:00

Ewan McDowall is Pfizer’s Sales and Operating Manager for Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. Ewan spoke to Pf about the responsibilities and rewards of his job:  

What is your current role?

I am the Sales and Operating Manager for Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. This means that I manage the promoted portfolio of primary care/secondary care business and managed entry for Pfizer in this area. This includes the sales managers and their representatives and the Account Management and Clinical Effectiveness team for this area.

What previous roles have you worked in?

I’ve done a variety of jobs for three different companies. With Lilly I worked as a medical representative, before undertaking a Key Account Manager role, followed by a marketing role in diabetes. With SmithKline Beecham in Dublin, I had a marketing/sales role in general medicines, including launching Avandia. With Pfizer in the UK, I held a New Product Development role (products 2–5 years before launch) and then was COXIB Team Leader in Marketing during the withdrawal of Vioxx by Merck. I then moved into the role I am in now.

What is the most interesting part of your job?

Every day is about maximising what we do with customers and focusing on our people to do so. There is nothing more interesting than helping develop people to do what they aspire to and helping them get to where they want to go.

What do you find most rewarding?

We are in an industry that genuinely improves and saves peoples’ lives. Not many people can say that

about their occupation. Our representatives provide healthcare professionals with data that can reduce people’s chances of dying, or that can genuinely improve their quality of life. Can you get more rewarding than that?

What is your biggest challenge?

We need to get even closer to our customers. We always strive to do this, but internal dynamics make it tough. We need to stop attending those internal meetings and start walking in our customers’ shoes more.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to be a SAOM?

Breadth of experience is essential. You need a good business background, top performance management skills and also an ability to understand and work with customers. Personally, the best decision in my career was choosing to go and work in Ireland. You do everything yourself there, so I experienced another market/country and learned a lot about myself and my values as a manager.

Having worked for other large companies, what is it that keeps you at Pfizer?

The people: I genuinely like and respect the people here. I’ve made lasting friendships, which you can’t put a price on. Since speaking to Pf, Ewan has taken on the new role of South East London and Kent Business Director.

If your New Year’s resolution is to get a new job, Lucy Randle offers some top tips to help you navigate the dreaded assessment centre:

  • Remember that you are not in competition with other candidates. It is common practice these days to recruit to a standard. All, several, one or none of you may be chosen. Selectors want to see how you react to and get on with others.

  • It’s not just about what you contribute in terms of completing the task, but also the way you contribute to the group overall. You are not expected to be an expert on the subject under discussion or the task to complete. Selectors want to see evidence that you can make an effective contribution to the group.

  • Play to your strengths and look for ways to make an effective contribution to the group by: including others in the discussions; organising people; making sure the group keeps to time and completes the task; checking details; and coming up with creative ideas.

  • Think about the impact you can make in a group activity and the way you interact with and influence others. Keep contributions short and to the point, and raise them at the best time for maximum impact.

  • Get involved, but do not dominate the discussion or talk for the sake of it. Avoid interrupting others to make your contribution, but do not let others interrupt you. Keep your non-verbal behaviour assertive. Use eye contact to get your contributions in. Make sure your voice can be heard, but don’t shout.

  • Put your key points across and don’t let the discussion be dominated by others whose viewpoints may not be as valid as your own. However, if new information comes to light or better ideas are put forward, it’s OK to change your mind. Be honest and open about this, not apologetic.

  • If you find yourself in the minority and time is pressing, it can be appropriate to ‘fall in’ with the majority rather than prevent the meeting from progressing. There’s a danger you will be labelled as awkward or negative if you take a stand on every issue. Assessors are very often as interested in the quality of your thinking and presentation as your particular point of view.

  • Prepare for any second interview by thinking back to your first interview and the questions you were asked. Were there any questions you didn’t answer very well or better examples you could have used?

  • Avoid thinking about the assessors; concentrate on the task in hand.

  • Be pleasant with the people you meet. Wish other candidates good luck when they go for their interviews. It does get noticed.

  • Keep up your end of the dialogue. Even if some of the exercises seem slightly unusual, they do have a purpose. Stay involved, enthusiastic and interested throughout.

  • Ask for feedback and make sure you clarify what you have learnt.

  • Perhaps most importantly, make sure that you are true to yourself – and who knows, you might even enjoy it!

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