The 2022 MSL of the Year Awards were announced during the 10th annual MSL Society conference in Las Vegas, September 6th-8th. The purpose of the awards is to recognize excellence within the MSL Profession and is open to all MSLs and MSL Managers globally.
During the Awards Night Celebration on September 7th, 39 finalists from eight countries were acknowledged, and a winner was announced in each of the 8 award categories: MSL of the Year (US and outside the US), MSL Rookie of the Year (US and outside the US), MSL Manager of the Year (US and outside the US), and MSL Rookie Manager of the Year (US and outside the US).
All submissions were evaluated by a panel of 10 highly experienced global MSL leaders representing pharma, biotech, and medical devices companies.
Each award category required four letters of recommendation from a KOL or direct report, a manager, a peer, and a cross-functional team member to be submitted as part of the application. During the month-long evaluation and review period, each of the 10 judges independently evaluated the four letters of recommendation and introspective questions on a scale from 1 to 10. An awards platform was utilized to determine the winners in each category based on the total scores from each judge. The highest-scoring application in each award category was determined to be the winner.
We interviewed some of the 2022 winners to learn their perspectives regarding winning the award, what the award means to them, and what advice they would offer to others.
What were your first thoughts after you heard you won the award?
Bethany Grayce Bedford: I was overwhelmed, and, honestly, surprised. The nominees this year were fierce and phenomenal, and it was an honor to even be included in the group as a nominee and finalist. Though of course, I hoped to win, I did NOT expect it: there’s an amazing class of rookies out there, and I’m inspired by them!
Amit Lalwani: SURPRISED, HUMBLED & HONOURED! To receive an award for the profession that I absolutely love from the Medical Science Liaison Society, an organization that I highly admire makes me truly happy and grateful. When the awards were being announced in Las Vegas, I was boarding a plane in Australia and as I was about to sit on my seat, I saw a Linkedin post of congratulations on my smartwatch. Before I could even read the entire message on my phone, deep down in my heart I knew I won the MSL rookie award and I couldn’t help but scream with excitement “YESSSSS”. A few fellow passengers looked at me and smiled and one said “looks like something great happened.. congratulations”. For the remaining 4 hrs of my time on the flight, I had a never-ending smile on my face.
Mandy Turton: Honestly, just getting to the final was something I was not expecting, but then on the evening of the awards to hear my name called out as the winner, well, it was just the best feeling, you know, one of those once in a lifetime moments that just blow you away. So I was totally overwhelmed, but extremely happy, just in shock really, but so so happy!!
Kelby Kuhn: I was happily surprised, and shocked when my name was called. All of the events, decisions and hard work of the past few years that led me to this night flashed through my mind. It was a humbling experience to be recognized as a leader in the MSL profession. I am grateful to all the amazing mentors and colleagues I have had the opportunity to work alongside.
Kevin Knower: I was shocked, excited, and genuinely happy to be the recipient! I really wanted to be there in person as I was so thankful to the judges, other nominees, and the MSL Society for the recognition. It was so nice to also have my close colleagues reach out, some of who I haven’t worked with in a while, to say how deserving I was of the award.
What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally?
Bethany Grayce Bedford: It is incredible – such a confidence booster and encouragement. I think we always wonder if we’re doing enough, bringing enough value, or proving our worth to our company and colleagues. This feels especially true when we started as completely online MSLs. This nomination and award are confirmation that the time, effort, and encouragement invested in me by mentors and peers have been successful. I feel empowered to continue growing as an MSL and be supported by mentors and colleagues.
Amit Lalwani: Overall, receiving this award and being recognized for my profession as an MSL is a humbling and honorable achievement. Personally, it feels like one of my wildest dreams has come true. It empowers the significant highlights of my MSL career and the value I bring to HCPs. Hopefully, this will make many others understand what I do day on the day as an MSL. Professionally, it has increased my confidence every day, strengthened my commitment to the medical affairs function and to my HCPs, and lastly, I successfully exceeded all expectations and have the respect of my peers, which means the world to me.
Mandy Turton: I absolutely love what I do, and working in medical affairs is just the best place in the industry to be, in my opinion. I’m passionate about what I do and I put my heart and soul into my work, so winning this award for me on a personal level is knowing that what I and the team that I lead do makes a real difference to the lives of cancer patients. That is incredibly powerful and humbling. On a professional level, it means so much that my manager believed in me and nominated me for the award. I have had an amazing opportunity to build a strong team, and helping them grow and develop has been an honor. The support I received from my team, my manager, and my peers has been just amazing and means the world to me.
Kelby Kuhn: Being selected as the MSL of the year 2022 is an honor. Personally, I have been on a mission to pay it forward. What better way to realize this objective, than be recognized by an organization with values that align with my own personal goals? In addition, I was able to share this experience with a colleague, whom I had been mentoring over the past 6 months, and was offered her first MSL position one week before the MSL Society Conference. I mean, “WOW” that was the icing on the cake. Professionally, I am grateful to have the best job ever and be recognized by my profession as one leading the way. I know this will help my development toward becoming a director or manager in the future.
Kevin Knower: It is amazing to be recognized for my MSL work on the international stage. It was really gratifying as I felt my application showcased many years of accumulated MSL work in the industry. The award submission also allowed some time for me to reflect on the impact that I as an MSL have had on my peers and external stakeholders. I feel this recognition is a great motivator for me to utilize to advance my career to the next level.
Do you have any advice for your colleagues/peers?
Bethany Grayce Bedford: Keep going! Find mentors who encourage you and challenge you. Raise your hand and say ‘yes’ to opportunities (even if they’re a bit outside of your normal box). Reach out to your network and GROW your network. The MSL world is incredible, and we’re here to build each other up.
Amit Lalwani: My advice to my colleagues/peers would be to always keep going, never give up, and take smart risks. You need to have a deep understanding of your personal values and missions and see if they resonate with your company and your role as an MSL. Always love your work that has tangible positive effects with a deep impact on the quality of the patient’s lives and experience. I take every opportunity to give back to the MA community and so if you may have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Mandy Turton: To my colleagues and peers working in medical affairs, I would say that if you are passionate about your work, then someone in your team will probably nominate you. The sky is the limit, so just go for it and grab the opportunity with both hands. You never know what you can achieve. Look at me – I had no idea when I started on this journey that I’d be on the stage accepting such a prestigious award. Believe in yourself and you can too!
Kelby Kuhn: I would like to share two quotes, which have helped me focus when I needed direction during the tough times as an MSL. Winston Churchill said, “Never, Never, Never, Never give up” followed by Thomas Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try one more time”. I have learned from my experiences over the years, that if you have the desire to do something, then dream big and make those dreams your reality. Most importantly, remember that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, and one for helping others.
Kevin Knower: While the MSL role is very autonomous in nature and can be quite isolated, I put a lot of my own success down to the amazing people I surround myself with. If you are an MSL or even an aspiring MSL, be sure to find yourself a great mentorship network, create more visibility through involvement in tasks or projects that take you out of your comfort zone, and importantly, where possible be sure to pass on your wealth of knowledge to act as a leader for your peers and others in your organization.
Dr. Samuel Dyer
CEO and Chairman of the Board
Dr. Samuel Dyer has over 22 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, the 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 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.