Mentors have always played an important part in breaking into the MSL role as well as helping MSLs to advance their careers further.
We interviewed 8 mentors and 7 mentees about their experience with the MSL Society Mentor Program 2021 to showcase the value that a mentor program could bring to your career.
1. Why did you want to be a mentor?
Cherie Hyder: I enjoy learning from the mentees and they keep me on my toes with amazing insights and questions! I see the mentor role as a two-way street with exchanges in both directions and the ability to give insights to mentees with many decades of industry experience, time leading teams and developing others as well as considering the evolution of Medical Affairs toward a strategic division that it has become today.
Amy Patel: I wanted to be a mentor because it allows me to develop leadership skills and also allows me to help train people which I think is an important quality if you’re going to be a direct her in the future. I’m also passionate about my role and I want to be able to educate others on how to be a great medical science liaison.
Chris Norman: I wanted to become a mentor b/c when I started as an MSL there were no real courses on how to be an MSL. You joined a company, learned about their respective drugs, and then you went out into the field. I also have a degree in teaching and with every position I have held, I have been asked to mentor the younger folks (MSL’s) on the team. I love teaching. Also, I feel that the Medical Affairs Teams in every company I have worked with need to prove their worth to the company so if I can help and guide newer MSL’s in the role to make it both easier for them and also to prove their value to the company than that is a win/win for everyone!
Leny Pearman: Being a mentor to others provides me the opportunity to help others that need additional support in order to be successful in their roles.
David Tanouye: I have been mentoring young optometrists that have wanted to make the transition into an industry position for years even before I became an MSL. To mentor, MSLs is a natural progression to my mentoring for the 12 years prior to becoming an MSL.
Herman Ng: I wanted to help those more junior MSLs become better at their MSL role.
Debra Lycett: I’ve been an MSL and an MSL manager for over 20 years now and felt I had the experience I could share that might be helpful. I never had a mentor myself and I know I could have benefitted from one.
Jamie Tobitt: I had already been doing a lot of talking to aspiring MSLs and even helping some of the newer MSLs at my companies. It seemed like a nice opportunity to keep that going.
2. What have you learned from your mentees?
Cherie Hyder: Mentees and Mentors in our group this year each led topic discussions on a monthly rotation which allowed each of us to delve deeper into a key area of need for new managers and deliver incredible resources, ideas, and content to the entire group! As a result, the slide sets for each month represent a body of useful knowledge and resources that can be stored for a broader group to use as an MSL Society community!
Amy Patel: I have learned that a lot of my mentees come from various different backgrounds and have different aspirations and because of that based on their prior experience and sort of where they want to be in their career their role of what I medical science liaison is quite different and it’s great to gain some understanding and different perspectives of what people consider what they do in this field since it’s such a niche area.
Chris Norman: I have learned that there is a lot of confusion regarding the job that MSL’s have been hired to do. It depends upon the company and what their deliverables are for the Medical Affairs Team. I emphasize to all my mentees that they must be very flexible and adaptable as goals, objectives, change all the time.
Leny Pearman: I learned that many struggles with territory management, especially as they are new to their MSL roles. This was much harder because of the closed systems because of COVID-19.
David Tanouye: Companies have different definitions and job descriptions of the role of an MSL. There are also other titles in Medical Affairs that seem to have job descriptions similar to what I do for my company as an MSL.
Herman Ng: That every company operates differently and there is no one size fits all answer to some of their questions.
Debra Lycett: They are all so smart! I think being a mentor has really shown me the value of strong leadership support/having a great manager. Without a strong manager, MSLs suffer from the same issues regardless of company size, therapeutic area, or even experience level. Mentorship can help fill that gap.
Jamie Tobitt: They can pick up things very quickly, and some of them are “naturals” at the MSL world and others need more attention to help them progress.
3. What’s the best advice you can give to a mentee to help develop his/her career?
Cherie Hyder: Be bold, be tenacious, be a continuous learner, never stop reaching for the next level! Ask for a capability continuum or similar tool for your current role and/or for a role you aspire to move into and work toward developing your capabilities to hone your craft as an MSL and for other roles you may desire! There are now various roles within Medical Affairs that one can consider beyond the traditional MSL role!
Amy Patel: The best advice I could give them is to not look at a challenge as an obstacle but an opportunity and always take everything with a grain of salt I also educated them on being open to speak with her managers on issues and to gain and understand that positive criticism is helpful and not to look at it as a setback.
Chris Norman: A mentee called me as he felt that his manager did not like him and was not offering him any projects to work on. He was new to the company and did not want to upset anyone. We talked about various possibilities for the scenario. Then we did some role plays. In the end we BOTH decided that it would be important to his career growth and his respectability within that company to ask the manager for a one on one meeting. I truly believe that if one is respectful, honest, and genuine that one can share how they are feeling with upper management, and if they are decent people they will listen, understand one’s point of view and try to work things out that are suitable for everyone. That has always been my motto. The mentee did just that, told the manager that he felt left out of projects and together they worked together to find a solution for everyone. It was a win/win.
Leny Pearman: Be aware of different opportunities within and outside of your therapeutic area. Be willing to volunteer for other projects and other collaborations to further enhance your relationships with others.
David Tanouye: Remain passionate about your field/disease state because the passion shows in every interaction you have with your health care practitioner.
Herman Ng: Networking is key when it comes to developing one’s career. Sometimes it’s not what you know, but who you know.
Debra Lycett: Listen, be open-minded, be a team player, be dependable and be positive. Be hungry and be humble. Appreciate the great job you have, even when it isn’t perfect.
Jamie Tobitt: Always look for opportunities to go in different directions, and network… or even cut your own path if you see your vision but there is no established pathway there.
4. Would you do anything differently as a mentor in your next mentorship opportunity if given the opportunity?
Cherie Hyder: I would take time to collate the slides and resources from monthly meetings in a more proactive way; in retrospect, we realized just how valuable the presentations were as each one was delivered. If we can collect the presentations and organize them into a library of resources, it will make a great impact on future mentee/mentor groups and the broader MSL society community!
Amy Patel: If given the opportunity one thing that I would request is looking at time zones so that it’s easy to schedule calls when your mentoring people because mentoring people in the same time zone as he was a little bit easier versus having people with different time zones.
Chris Norman: I have found out from experience that it depends upon the group of individuals that comprise the group. I tend to go with the interests and questions plus the needs of each group, which have been very different. Both experiences have been rewarding. I would not change anything as I go along with what the group needs and wants. Both times they have been very different.
Leny Pearman: Continue to listen to each mentee as their barriers and challenges differ from one another, different territories, and different therapeutic areas.
David Tanouye: I might have some discussions and their topics driven by our group of mentees. We did do that near the end with topics that were more of interest to them and their specific roles in their companies.
Herman Ng: No.
Jamie Tobitt: Maybe reach out individually to the mentees from time to time, rather than only as a group.
5. What inspired you to enter the Medical Affairs line of work?
Cherie Hyder: I had been working in FDA and industry roles in regulatory and clinical R&D for more than a decade when I discovered the MSL role and had an opportunity to leverage my broad drug development background in my first role. I loved the variety in each day and continuous challenge; I also think it brought me closer to patients with frequent contact with HCPs who care for patients daily.
Amy Patel: I’ve always been someone who likes to talk and really doesn’t like to do the same job every day and when I find that it’s different in medical affairs is your wake up every day go to work and no two days are the same and I really enjoy having that type of atmosphere in my work.
Chris Norman: I was inspired to become an MSL b/c I was working as a project manager in oncology at a well-known medical center. I did not have a budget for the department. I was working with a Pharma. the company on a clinical trial when he/she said that there was an opening in their company. When he/she told me that I would be able to get a computer, pens/pencils, etc. anything I needed to get my work done, I said that I would apply. In the academic world, the budget is not great to support clinical trials/research. Once I “went to the dark side” as they call it, I never went back!
Leny Pearman: I entered the MSL role accidentally. I wasn’t sure what the role was and developed my own successes based on my experiences.
David Tanouye: I was given the opportunity 17 years ago from transitioning from clinical practice into Clinical/Medical Affairs. I love to be able to discuss science and data rather than the spin that the marketing and commercial group like to weave.
Herman Ng: I had a friend/colleague who was an MSL and encouraged me to pursue the MSL career path.
Debra Lycett: In pharmacy school, I became interested in pursuing Drug Information as a career, and I realized I could do that in the industry. Once I began looking into the industry I found the MSL role. Merck came to my school interviewing for sales positions so I decided to apply, thinking it was just for the experience. They ended up convincing me to take a sales position and a year later I transitioned into the MSL role. I’ve loved it ever since.
Jamie Tobitt: I wanted to get away from traditional pharmacy work and the MSL role resonated with me.
6. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started working as an MSL?
Cherie Hyder: Understanding the intersection of commercial and medical is essential to success as an MSL; most of us do not get much contact with commercial prior to moving into a first MSL role and will need this underpinning to be even more effective.
Amy Patel: I wish I knew that a lot of the success based on a medical science liaison is really on your own territory and really being an advocate for your territory you really define your own success and you have to motivate and push yourself to do everything you need to do to be successful in the role as it’s a very independent role.
Chris Norman: How to approach KOL’s, get to know everyone associated with that KOL, and be kind and respectful to everyone! Administrative assistants etc. are just as important people as the KOL’s, respect them and treat them with kindness and respect.
Leny Pearman: The different opportunities within medical affairs.
David Tanouye: Nothing really, I had spent 12 years in the medical device industry in Clinical/Medical Affairs, so the role as an MSL was nothing new. I had developed solid relationships with my doctors and that has helped me in my performance as an MSL in my current role.
Herman Ng: More than 50% of my job function is to build relationships. Once those are established, the job becomes much easier.
Debra Lycett: Clinical experience matters. If you’re a PharmD, NP, etc., spend some time working in a clinical position before you join the industry. Be patient. Once you go to the industry you’ll probably never go back.
Jamie Tobitt: If you are new to the industry (especially) or even an experienced MSL but new to a company… observe things more before speaking up or trying to act before having the full perspective.
7. What have you learned from this year’s mentorship experience?
Cherie Hyder: Being a mentor does not mean you have all the answers or that you are above anyone; it only means you care enough to make time to give to others and to receive from them. I view it as an equal exchange environment where we can all benefit from each other with various backgrounds, knowledge, and capabilities.
Amy Patel: I have learned a great deal as far as what it takes to be a great leader and I know listening is a huge component of that and giving positive criticism in such a fashion that is not disappointing to a mentee but more educational to motivate them to do better in their career.
Chris Norman: Most of the folks in my group were new to the device company so I ended up having to look up a lot of information for devices approved by the FDA compared to FDA drugs approved in order to help the mentees.
Leny Pearman: I learned that the MSLs were so eager to be successful that they wanted to know as much as they could that it made it fun for me to further their passion to do a great job!
David Tanouye: We all come from different backgrounds and different life experiences. This is what makes each of us unique in our own way and we use our life experience in navigating through our company requirements.
Herman Ng: Not every mentee will find value in what I share, but there will also be something that a mentee can take away at some point of the mentor/mentee relationship that fits their specific situation.
Jamie Tobitt: Some of my mentees made substantial progress in their careers in just a year and others were really not in good company environments. Company culture will affect your job satisfaction and slow your career growth.
8. What have you done that helped advance your career? What steps have you taken to help advance your career?
Cherie Hyder: Take calculated risks; it won’t always work out the way you want, but the time invested and experience becomes part of your fabric and you continue to evolve and move toward new career experiences!
Amy Patel: Advancing my career Begins with volunteering for opportunities allowing yourself to figure out what it is long-term that you want and using steps to get there which is why being a leader is something I look to do in aspire to do and being a mentor is a starting point.
Chris Norman: What steps have you taken to help advance your career? I have developed a great networking group of KOL’s that I have worked with and known for years. I am proud to say that I still keep in contact with them after 10 to 15 years. I also am mindful of keeping in contact with folks that I have worked with in the past. I have learned that the oncology world is a very small world and one should never make an enemy of anyone. That saying, one should be kind, respectful to everyone one meets and works with!
Leny Pearman: Being a team player and encouraging others to do well and be successful. Being a leader makes a big difference.
David Tanouye: I have always felt the hard work and being fair, balanced, and moral would pay off. I have recently been promoted to a newly created position in our company of Senior Medical Science Liaison, though I am still waiting for it to become official from our HR department.
Herman Ng: Networking and being proactive in my development. Be proactive and bold, but humble in developing my career. Ask a lot of questions.
Debra Lycett: I took a ‘demotion’ (technically) to get to the company and environment I wanted to be in, and a year later I was exactly where I wanted to be and fairly compensated. Don’t get wrapped up in titles and such. Be open to lateral moves or ‘lower’ titles to get the experience you want. MSLs are over-titled and highly paid. If you want to do something different in Medical Affairs you may find yourself having to take on a position with a lower title/rank/pay in order to move up again from there. Figure out what makes you happy and work for that. Your experience and how you present it in an interview matters much more than any title.
Jamie Tobitt: Both me and my fellow mentor had either job changes or restructuring going on in our lives. It offered an opportunity to discuss with our mentees when it’s time to jump ship. (not usually something you would discuss with a new MSL but it was a good conversation).
9. What do you think has been the most defining moment(s) in this mentorship experience?
Cherie Hyder: When I could not start a zoom meeting because my cell signal was poor as I was traveling, a mentee set up a new link and dove into leading the discussion to keep our discussion going. That leadership is within each of us and to see it in action in our group was inspiring. We all had those moments where we had a plan for the meeting and then had to quickly adapt and shift to a situation where others were not available and we were able to make the time relevant and useful to those who could be there!
Amy Patel: I really love making these new connections and keeping long-lasting relationships. I think it’s a very small world when you work in the pharmaceutical industry and a lot of the paths will cross and the future so it’s always great to have adversity and diversity.
Chris Norman: First of all, getting to know the various participants and their various questions. Most importantly, two years later, some folks from my first group still email me with questions….it is a safe environment to ask questions and seek help without feeling like your questions were insignificant. There is no judgment, only a sincere “want” to help!
Leny Pearman: The mentees were so appreciative of any best practice ideas that were shared with them that they came to each meeting prepared to challenge us each month!
David Tanouye: I met an MSL in the field that had met me initially when I had the opportunity to talk at one of my early MSL conferences. She is part of another mentorship group but referred another of her mentees to me since I am in the medical device industry which better matched this mentee. I asked my group if they would be open to inviting her to join us and they all said yes, the more the merrier. I am always tickled when I meet MSLs in the field that remembers me from attending the MSL Society conference.
Herman Ng: Receiving the “thank yous” and the emails that state “this was very helpful to me”.
1. Why would you recommend this program to your fellow MSLs?
Brandon Bosque: I’d recommend this program because as a new MSL, you quite simply don’t know what you don’t know. As a surgeon by trade, preparation and understanding your own weaknesses are both fundamental to success— walking into an OR under-prepared and thinking you already know everything is a recipe for disaster in my eyes. So in this new career, I took on the same principles. I need to be self-aware about what I don’t know and learn from those who have been there and are successful. This mentorship program helped me learn from seasoned MSLs what a good baseline for an MSL would be.
David Silver: I would recommend this program to early-career MSLs, especially those new to the industry. It will give you an opportunity to network with people experienced in the profession and share best practices.
Andrew Cobert: There are really a number of reasons I would recommend this program. I would say, primarily, it was such a great experience getting to interact with other MSLs working in different companies and in different therapeutic areas. The best part of that interaction, especially as a newer MSL, was realizing that we all had very similar questions regarding our professional journeys. And that we all found ourselves in similar professional situations (i.e. talking to leadership about professional advancement, relationship building with HCPs, etc.) It was comforting to know that my newfound colleagues were all working to develop their skills in order to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. It was also freeing to ask these questions to our mentors. No question was small or silly and the advice we received was more than helpful. Ultimately, this program allows for (new and mentor) MSLs to build confidence, talk through questions/scenarios encountered in our daily work lives, and grow one’s professional network.
Bryandt Douglas: Yes
Attila Mihalik: I would recommend this program because the MSLS mentors, such as Jamie and Herman, truly care and want to help us grow. The transparency of the program and the ability for us to safely ask questions and see best practices around the industry are priceless and valuable.
Sarah Burris: The program is great for networking with MSLs outside of your company. It is the perfect environment to talk about similar challenges and successes and how others went to solve those.
2. How did the mentor program help to advance your career?
Brandon Bosque: It helped instill some confidence that I could “speak the language” of the MSL. It washed away the dreaded “imposter syndrome” soon after our first couple of sessions. I feel that all new MSLs need to scrub themselves clean of “imposter syndrome” as quickly as possible. You belong! So, for me, developing a little network of new MSLs and seasoned MSLs that I can bounce ideas off and ask “silly questions” without any judgment—got me there.
The robust and collaborative MSL community at large has been one of the best aspects of being an MSL. Thankfully there is no shortage of medical affairs professionals that want to help and collaborate—and for me, it started with the MSLS Mentorship program. My manager was thrilled to learn when I told him that I was partaking in this program and he encouraged me to share some of the discussions which I did—and overall, it seemed that simply joining the program demonstrated to my manager that I am taking a serious and proactive approach to my new role as an MSL. I’m sure it played a role to springboard my recent promotion to Senior MSL– within my first year!
Ray Veronneau: Since the MSL role is such a dynamic role, there is no one size fits all. It is great to hear new perspectives from others on varying objectives. These new perspectives help accomplish and exceed yearly goals and metrics for career advancement.
David Silver: These types of networking programs usually result in serendipitous benefits usually not realized until many years after the experience. More immediately, it helps an early career MSL develop a small group of people that they can confide in and will guide you.
Andrew Cobert: It definitely gave me more confidence in the way that I had already been approaching my MSL career. A specific example was feeling more confident in openly speaking with my manager about professional development/advancement.
Bryandt Douglas: Understanding practices of other companies.
Attila Mihalik: They provided me with information that allowed me to connect various pieces of information to fully understand my role and its effects on my company, industry, and the healthcare system as a whole. Additionally, various topics, such as understanding the MA structure in different companies, helped demonstrate a clear career trajectory and how each role connects within MA.
Sarah Burris: It hasn’t changed by a career as of yet, but there were 2 other MSLs in my group that learned that their positions were not really what others were experiencing in their MSL roles, which led to both of them interviewing with other companies and changing jobs.
3. What do you expect in a mentor? How is being mentored a 2-way exchange where both mentor and mentee benefit?
Brandon Bosque: My expectations of a mentor were quite simple. I hoped that they would have been an MSL for a while and ideally currently serving as a senior MSL or MSL manager. That was it. The 2-way exchange was refreshing and a bit surprising (especially coming from clinical medicine). I was very lucky to have two wonderful MSL mentors that had no problem saying “I’m not sure” and enthusiastically wanted to learn about our experiences and challenges as well. You can imagine in clinical medicine it’s not extremely common to have mentors who feel that they could indeed learn from novices – but my MSL mentors were so comfortable in their own skin that they relished learning from us and seeing a new perspective. It validated to me, that in this field, like clinical medicine, we are life-long learners regardless of the number of years of experience one has—we can always learn something. But unlike clinical medicine, experienced medical affairs professionals are much more willing to make learning a 2-way street.
Ray Veronneau: As a mentor, I expect flexibility and honesty. Flexibility in what needs to be discussed and communicated. There should be no set “crash course”; it is really about identifying strengths and weaknesses and how to utilize or overcome them. Honesty is important as well to hear real feedback on what may or may not work.
David Silver: I expected that I would be “pulling” information from my mentor but in reality, it was more of a collegial relationship. Having a two-way relationship where both mentor and mentee benefit was more ideal. As a result of the pandemic, everyone was experiencing the virtual engagement paradigm as “new MSLs” and it fostered a mutually beneficial relationship as we shared strategies as a group.
Andrew Cobert: I expect a mentor to be open and welcoming. As a mentor, you have to make someone feel comfortable in knowing they can come to you with questions/problems/scenarios and not worry about being shamed.
Being mentored is a 2-way exchange where everyone benefits because regardless of experience no one knows everything and everyone (especially in this profession) is looking to learn more and, ultimately, get better at what they do. The reward is knowing you’ve done your best in your work and hoping that that can make a difference.
Bryandt Douglas: I expect to get assistance with questions and obtain insight on how to be a better MSL.
Attila Mihalik: A mentor should provide a safe, transparent space that allows openness for questions. I believe mentorship is a 2-way exchange because the engagement between a mentor/mentee often requires the mentors to do more research and preparation, therefore both parties eventually learn and grow.
Sarah Burris: A certain level of experience/years in the industry. I would also hope that they have had experiences with more than one company and job title (maybe promoted to an MSL manager).
4. What inspired you to seek mentorship in the first place?
Brandon Bosque: In clinical medicine, the mantra “see one, do one, teach one” is instilled in us. Mentorship is standard, formalized, and engrained in physician training. Being an MSL is no different, but the mentorship isn’t necessarily obvious or formal. Seeing a mentorship being available through the MSLS was extremely attractive to me. Putting my ego aside and acknowledging that I have a TON to learn about this profession was the first step. I realize how lucky I was to have access to willing mentors and a collaborative group, so taking advantage of the opportunity was a no-brainer. Then– my hope– as I grow as an MSL, is that one day I will be able to “teach one” as a mentor.
Ray Veronneau: To build off the first answer, since this role is dynamic and the landscape is ever-changing, I think it is wise to always have a mentor, regardless of the stage in your career.
David Silver: Dr. Dyer’s book led me to the MSL career and it was something that encouraged me to participate in the mentorship program. I have had a really positive experience with everything related to the MSL Society in general.
Andrew Cobert: Becoming an MSL took hard work and time. Now that I have been fortunate enough to work in this role for nearly 2 years, I have a strong motivation to do all that I can to become a better MSL each day. Mentorship is something that is priceless in all aspects of life. It can allow you to discover things you may have never thought about and having that new knowledge can allow you to grow and expand beyond what you thought possible.
Bryandt Douglas: I was a new MSL and sought guidance on how to be the best MSL.
Attila Mihalik: My desire to continuously learn and advance within my field in addition to giving back in the future.
Sarah Burris: I am a new MSL in a non-traditional MSL role for my company (who has never had this position). I want to be sure that I am following industry standards.
5. What was the most valuable lesson you learned?
Brandon Bosque: The most valuable lesson I learned was that different MSL teams have vastly different responsibilities, hierarchies, and persons to report to— and that is ok! Some MSLs are intimately involved with IRB submissions and medical education while others focus strictly on engagements in the field. Just because I’m not responsible for doing something another MSL is doing doesn’t mean that I’m slacking or being under-utilized—it just means my MSL team is different. It’s so great to see how different day-to-day outlooks for various MSLs can be—there will be a role to match any skill set. Even something as simple as understanding and maximizing a CRO was a great discussion point with other MSLs. Some are bound tightly to their CRO while others use it passively.
Ray Veronneau: The most valuable lesson learned is that there are many ways to get to an end result. There are many different types of MSLs and each has its own skills that necessarily may not work for all, but it works for them. The lesson learned was that you can’t just mimic someone to achieve success, you have to listen and learn then personalize that to succeed.
David Silver: I really get a sense that growth and development as an MSL is not something that happens within a year. I think this program probably should be a 2-3 year track. I think the second or third year should involve a 1:1 relationship with the mentor. I would like to see a further mentorship program for experienced MSLs that is more focused on career development. I would like to understand what the 20-year career track looks like starting from an MSLs first position.
Andrew Cobert: New or experienced, we are all just looking to do a good job. We all have the normal fears and anxieties of those who just want to do well. With that, we are all just “figuring it out” each day while being able to work in areas we are passionate about.
Bryandt Douglas: Handling congresses.
Attila Mihalik: Most valuable lesson learned was how to connect and approach KOL interactions in different industry settings (big pharma, generic pharma, biopharma, etc.). Each sector has its own set of challenges and regulations that allow us to do different things.
Sarah Burris: There are many different paths MSLs can take in their career progression beyond the MSL title.
6. How can you apply what you have learned in the program to your career? What changes will you make based on this mentorship experience?
Brandon Bosque: I was the inaugural MSL at my company and we currently are an MSL team of 2. This program has given me the confidence and groundwork to develop our company policies that govern MSL engagements with KOLs and other activities. Without mentorship, I would likely be more passive and “assume” that everyone does things the exact same way across the board. I would wait to be told what to do instead of taking initiative—simply because I would have been scared to be wrong. That is not the case at all! You can take great ideas from fellow mentees or mentors and implement them for your own company. The mentors gave me great confidence to OWN our MSL team and tailor it to our company goals. In my company, I’m extremely fortunate that I report directly to the Chief Scientific Officer, and he encourages us to think outside of the box about what we want to be as MSLs and he values my input regarding the direction of our medical affairs team. Without this program, I would have likely “gone with the flow” instead of actively shaping my MSL team, because I simply would not have known any better.
Ray Veronneau: I will make better long-term strategic decisions regarding my career so I can accomplish objectives faster than if I had not been in the mentor-mentee program. I will use what I learned in my mentor-mentee group to help onboard to the MSL role faster and more efficiently.
David Silver: I learned how valuable just talking and getting to know others in the pharmaceutical industry is. Just having someone to reach out to the outside of the normal information stream you have access to is invaluable.
Andrew Cobert: Continuing to build your network and professional relationships is a major key to developing who you are and where you see yourself going.
Bryandt Douglas: It’s a direct application.
Attila Mihalik: In my company, we created best practices and shared our findings within the team. This allowed many members of my company to grow and implement some strategies that were applicable to us. I have used these practices to advance and increase my interactions.
7. What beliefs or goals did this mentorship help solidify for you?
Brandon Bosque: The first belief was that there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter MSL. One MSL team may be responsible for and do things completely differently, and that’s ok. Without this program, I may have felt more compelled to try and emulate random MSL peers– thinking what they do is “standard” –while maybe their policies might not be completely appropriate for my company and our goals.
Also, we still continue to ask questions and use the group as a sounding board. Though the program is officially over, we keep our email chain going and volley questions and “are you guys dealing with anything similar?” issues. Even if it’s just to vent or validate your feelings without having to voice any concerns internally at your own company.
My goal is to continue to pay it forward with mentorship. Much like when I was chief resident, I took the task of mentoring younger residents and medical students very seriously. Beyond my innate desire to teach and make those around me better, when I teach something, it etches those principles in my brain. Gaining more confidence as an MSL has allowed me to confidently begin to mentor newer MSLs and it engrain in me that—yea, I have a pretty good handle on this MSL gig and I’m darn good at it!
Ray Veronneau: The belief that although the MSL role changed drastically during COVID, does not mean we can not succeed as MSLs. Finding new strategies to engage and obtain insights helped not only in this environment but for other obstacles and barriers I may face in my career.
David Silver: For the most part the mentorship only validated the good work that I was doing within the organization.
Andrew Cobert: Look for more opportunities to network within my company with as many individuals as possible. You never know what you will learn just by proactively reaching out to someone and starting a conversation.
Bryandt Douglas: I will continue to reach out to my cohort.
Attila Mihalik: I have already made many necessary changes based on the best practices to advance to a regional medical director role. Some examples include personally connecting with KOLs, improved email exchanges, understanding regulations and how they apply, and bettering my knowledge about the various roles within the industry.
8. What beliefs or goals did this mentorship help solidify for you?
David Silver: This helped me feel confident that making the change from pharmacy to pharmaceutical industry was the right choice for me!
Andrew Cobert: The MSL community is small and close-knit. Everyone is friendly and willing to help. I have found mentorship in all MSLs that I have connected with. We all just have this desire to “pay it forward” and it’s (clearly) because of the foundation that the legacy MSL community has laid.
Attila Mihalik: The mentorship solidified my belief in the MSL role and how amazing of a position it is. Even though I am being promoted, I believe that the mentorship allowed me to see how great this role is for work/life balance and for long-term stability.
Dr. Samuel Dyer
CEO and Chairman of the Board
Dr. Samuel Dyer has over 21 years of experience within the International MSL community while working for a number of top global companies. During his career, he has led MSL / Medical Teams in multiple TA’s in over 60 countries throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Australia, and Asia.
His management experience includes small (2+) to large (240+) MSL teams across multiple TA’s. Throughout his career, Dr. Dyer has worked on MSL and Medical Affairs strategy and has extensive experience in creating strategic MSL utilization and medical communication plans. He has designed and created global MSL training programs that have included: onboarding programs, KOL Medical communication plans, strategic assessments, planning, and execution in geographical locations with diverse cultures /languages. Dr. Dyer has successfully launched both pharmaceutical and medical device MSL teams both in the U.S. and internationally.
Dr. Dyer has also written extensively on the Medical Science Liaison role, including numerous published articles, benchmark studies, and reports. Dr. Dyer is well recognized within the global MSL community and has developed an extensive international network within the Pharmaceutical, CRO, Medical Device, and Biotechnology industries. He is the owner of the largest group on LinkedIn for MSLs and Medical Affairs with over 25,000 members. He has spoken and moderated several international conferences on various MSL topics including KOL management, creating MSL teams, MSL training, international MSL teams, and the value of the MSL role and Medical Affairs. Dr. Dyer is consistently sought out as a resource and consultant for MSL projects that have included diverse companies such as McKinsey Consulting, Bain and Co., and Philips Healthcare.
Dr. Dyer has a Ph.D. in Health Sciences and did medical training in Chicago. He has a Master’s Degree in Tropical Biology (where he studied in the Amazon) and has a B.S. in Biology. Dr. Dyer also completed a certificate program for Executive Leadership and Strategy in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology at the Harvard Business School.
Dr. Dyer is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Seller “The Medical Science Liaison Career Guide: How to Break into Your First Role” (www.themslbook.com) which is the first book published on how to break into the MSL role.