Emma McConnell, Scientific Director at Ashfield Healthcare Communications – part of UDG Healthcare plc – tells us how she has built a successful career which helps to improve patients’ lives.
Emma McConnell has progressed from Associate Medical Writer to Scientific Director since joining Ashfield Healthcare Communications and is a great example of how quickly and how far you can progress if you have both talent and opportunity. Here Emma talks to us about what has driven her success and the tips she has picked up along the way.
How did you first find out about a career in healthcare communications?
I really enjoyed the medical writing part of my PhD, so when I started to think about next steps, it was at the forefront of my mind. At the time it wasn’t easy finding out about a career in healthcare communications and I feel really lucky that, when I was researching, I came across Ashfield Healthcare Communications.
They clearly saw something in me and offered me a job as an Associate Medical Writer. Ashfield is keen to spot new talent and attends lots of university open days and careers fairs to showcase what the company does and the different careers on offer. The ‘Associate Medical Writer Assessment Centres’ were launched because we witnessed so much bright talent that we wanted to introduce as many people as possible to a great career in industry.
What keeps your job interesting?
Firstly, the science – I love being one of the first to see the exciting new data and cutting-edge technologies that improves patients’ lives. Our writing teams work with pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals to communicate new scientific breakthroughs; turning complex scientific data into clear and accessible educational materials.
Secondly, the variety – I work across multiple therapy areas, producing a variety of print and digital content. Finally, the people – I work with a team of smart, dedicated, and fun people every day. As a Scientific Director, what has been particularly satisfying is working with our new Associate Medical Writers to help them develop their skills and build their own careers.
What’s the most important thing you have learnt in your career so far?
Working in healthcare communications, you’re not on your own, so ask lots of questions and ask for advice! People might think of a medical writer sitting alone in an office typing a manuscript. In reality, it’s the opposite! Working in healthcare communications at Ashfield is dynamic and fast-paced, and you’re often expected to be creative and innovative (as well as scientific), so there are exciting challenges. The best ideas can sometimes come after having a chat with your team and getting a fresh perspective.
What does the future hold for you?
I look forward to more exciting opportunities. There is always more to learn here! I don’t see any barriers to long-term career progression at Ashfield Healthcare Communications – for those who want to learn new skills and get the experience, there will always be opportunities. Being part of the wider Ashfield division also means that there’s scope to move into different areas and drive your career in the direction you want. The options are endless!
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
For prospective medical writers, or any role within healthcare communications, pick a company that will give you a broad range of projects and support your development. The Ashfield ‘Ask Career Experts’ panel at Ashfield Healthcare Communications is a great example. We want people to know all about the different options they have and be able to see what the future could have in store. Working somewhere that provides the right foundation and offers progression is essential.