Interview with Audra J Johnson, Ph.D, Associate Director, Medical Science Liaison, Biohaven Pharmaceuticals (2019 MSL Rookie of the Year US)
By Abagayle (Abby) Evans, the eight year old daughter of Alyson Evans, MSL, Biohaven Pharmaceuticals. She is in second grade and loves gymnastics, art, and math.
Abby: What is your day job, title and responsibilities.
Audra: I am a MSL for Biohaven Pharmaceuticals and am launching new drugs.
Abby: What inspired you to pursue a job in this industry?
Audra: I like helping people, science and medicine, and even asked my science teacher for extra homework because I was fascinated by the human body.
Abby: I think it’s actually kind of a good thing! I wonder how her science teacher reacted?
Abby: Why was it important for you to be involved in the MSL Society?
Audra: Being involved with the MSL Society gave me the tools and training I needed for my first job. More training made me a better MSL.
Abby: What has winning the MSL of the Year Award meant to you or done for you?
Audra: It gave me validation, a sense of accomplishment, and it’s the award I’m most proud of. It also gave me new job opportunities. It motivates me and in turn, I can share my story and motivate others.
Abby: What is your favorite resource from the MSL Society?
Audra: Real time information gathered and sent out by the MSL Society.
Abby: What excites you most about the future of MSLs, and how will you contribute to this growing profession?
Audra: I’ve learned a lot of new virtual skill sets due to COVID-19.
3 Fun Facts about Audra:
She likes adventures and challenges
She was a pro salsa dancer and instructor
She likes to learn Spanish and art
Interview with Prashant Desai, PharmD., Senior Medical Science Liaison II, AbbVie (2018 MSL of the Year US)
By Chloe Chan, the ten year old daughter of Arthur Chan, PhD, MBA, Novartis Pharmaceuticals. She is in fifth grade and loves gymnastics and horseback riding.
Chloe: When did you know you wanted to be a pharmacist?
Prashant: Between having asthma when I was a kid seeing how medication can help me, being fascinated with my first chemistry set when I was 12, and knowing at a young age that I wanted to help people, being a pharmacist was a good fit for me. Drugs fascinate me and it’s rewarding knowing that what I do touches a lot of peoples’ lives.
Chloe: And when did you know you wanted to be a MSL?
Prashant: I knew I wanted to be a MSL right when I came out of pharmacy school. I studied and trained in oncology, and started my career in a role with Amgen specializing in cancer. I love working with doctors ever since I started being a MSL, I wouldn’t trade my career for anything.
Chloe: My dad says you are a great leader in the MSL world. Who do you look up to, to guide you as a leader?
Prashant: I have a few people who really inspire me, my father who was a big mentor to me, he taught me how to be a good person, to always be kind and respectful. I also look up to Elon Musk. He sees the world differently, and is on a mission to change the world, to leave it in a better place. And bringing to life innovative ideas that others wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue.
Chloe: What was it like winning the MSL of the year award?
Prashant: It was like winning the Super Bowl. It was a dream. But what’s more important than winning the award is what you do with that recognition afterwards. I used the opportunity to elevate the MSL field. A lot of people reached out and followed me on social media after I won, and I used this platform to share my ideas on servant leadership. If you can make everyone around you better, you create more leaders, and leaders create leaders.
Chloe: Since you are a super MSL, who is your favorite superhero?
Prashant: Definitely Superman. I would love to have the ability to fly and see the things that he can see. One day I want to be like Superman.
Chloe: How are you and your MSL friends helping doctors during the pandemic?
Prashant: Our goal is to make sure we stay in touch with the doctors and continue to advise them on any knowledge we can share with them. Working with drugs that have the potential to treat COVID-19 patients meant that some doctors will reach out to our MSLs for guidance. It’s important to continue having regular contact, advising them of data and information that we’re permitted to share, to help guide their decisions. We have a shared goal of preventing patients from ending up in the ICU.
Chloe: What advice do you have for people who want to be a successful MSL like you?
Prashant: My best advice to them is to network with people in the field to learn what being a MSL is all about and know what you’re walking in to. The MSL role may seem glamorous to those on the outside, but those who are living the MSL life know that while it’s a great career, it is also a tough job. It takes a lot of work, to always be a subject matter expert and always have the latest knowledge of data. It’s rigorous work and you always have to be the best version of yourself in front of your customers. You also have to be good at planning and organizing your day. Finally, it’s important to have great listening skills, empathy, compassion and always be authentic. I like to say “you can teach skill, but you can’t teach will” – it’s a skill you have to work on all the time.
Chloe: Where do you miss traveling to the most?
Prashant: I used to travel overseas a lot. I saw most of Europe, including Switzerland. Going back home to London is the place I’ve missed the most.
Chloe: If you had one quote to share with everyone reading this MSL journal, what would it be?
Prashant: “As a MSL, I feel privileged that I have the best job in the world.”
Drs. Prashant and Mona Desai
Chloe Chan and Rocky
The 2020 MSL of the Year Awards nominations are now open. Learn more here: https://themsls.org/annual-conference/msl-of-the-year-awards/.
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