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Blog/A Life Science Recruiter's Book Reviews, Career Advice for Life Science Professionals

Review: “Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceuticals and Biotech”

The “Vault Career Guide to Pharmaceuticals and Biotech” by Andrew Morkes is a well-written introduction to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry for those who are thinking about a career in the industry. It is written for the layperson, especially those who don’t know much about what goes on in pharma and biotech companies. It will help some people decide which areas of the industry to go into and where someone will want to focus their education and training in order to meet their career objectives. There are people from all walks of the industry interviewed from leading scientists all the way to me, Ellen Clark, President of Clark Executive Search. And there are lists of helpful resources and links a beginner interested in landing a pharma job will find extremely useful.

The book gives a quick overview of the various departments in pharma such as research and development, clinical research, regulatory affairs, manufacturing, supply chain, quality, finance, administration, information systems and technology, legal affairs, business development, project management, engineering, commercial strategy, strategic planning, human resources, and corporate communications.

There are chapters on the different types of industry companies, including pharma, biotech, generic, and medical devices. Another chapter discusses current trends, including the growing use of contract research organizations (CRO) by big pharma and biotech, biosimilars, stem cell research, cloning, gene therapy, synthetic bio, nanotechnology, and individualized medicine.

An important chapter for the career minded is a section on getting hired by pharma or biotech companies. The author suggests people research companies well and he gives lists of professional associations one can join to find out more about a particular field. Lists of the best companies to work for are provided and the best way to use social media. Interviewing is discussed, including sample interview questions and the different types of interviews, such as behavioral, case, situational and group interviews.

Next are sections on the “Day in the Life “ of various employees of pharma and biotech where actual timelines are given of a typical day. And also there are longer more in depth interviews with people in the industry or who service the industry, such as recruiters. This section is where my interview is. Much of what I mention has already been included on this website in much more detail.

Last there is glossary of some of the technical or industry specific terminology; again this will be useful for those outside of industry trying to figure out the sometimes difficult to understand web sites and job postings. Also given is a list of books on biotechnology and industry organizations.

In sum, this 400-page book gives a quick glance at the industry I recruit for and I think will be especially helpful to those in academia who might want to choose between a life in academia versus a life in industry. It will be helpful to those thinking about a science degree but unsure as to which one to get and to those with no science background who still want to work for pharma or biotech companies in the non-technical side of the industry. Many topics I mentioned are barely a paragraph or two, so please do not expect much more than general information. It is a useful first source guide and from there one can explore more detailed information elsewhere.