The Medical Science Liaison (MSL) has become an integral member throughout a product’s lifecycle in the Pharma, Device and Diagnostic Industries. As a new MSL, it is exciting to get started and navigate through the complexities of the new role.
The MSL career offers so many benefits and opportunities. For some, one major benefit is that as a remote employee, it provides flexibility and lends itself well to balancing personal and professional life. Yet with a remote position, it can be challenging to maintain visibility, which is important highlighting your performance and professional development opportunities.
If you are feeling a little “remote” these days and wondering what you can do to create more visibility, have a look at these simple recommendations that will help you exceed as well as take charge of your professional growth.
Obviously, maintaining a physical presence is key to visibility, yet, it isn’t as straightforward for a remote employee. Typically, the opportunity to be physically present at the corporate office is rare, especially with Covid-19. However, those opportunities will arise, and when they do seize that opportunity.
Remember it is also important for your coworkers to understand your role in the company. It is your responsibility to showcase yourself. Be strategic with your time while you are at your home office by setting up short meetings with a clear agendas with key individuals. If unable to go to Headquarters Office, then make the most of Medical Congresses and local conferences by setting up meetings with internal colleagues and other remote colleagues that will be attending as well.
Being physically present isn’t the only way to ‘be present”. You can maintain valuable relationships with colleagues virtually by setting up brief routine phone calls or video conferences. Be strategic here as well, and make these moments count. When attending group meetings, whether that is on the phone or in video format, make it your objective to have your voice heard at least once during every call. As an expert in your field, you have good opinions, share them.
If you do not already have regular one to one call with your manager, create it. If it is not possible to get on a call together, at minimum craft an email with a rundown of everything you accomplished throughout the week to highlight your accomplishments. As a manager, I find these types of communications invaluable. Beyond connecting with your manager, consider creating weekly calls with crucial members of your team to stay up to date.
Mentor and Be Mentored
There is no doubt that mentorship plays a key role in career development. Choosing a mentor within your company can provide that extra visibility and connect you to others within the organization. To start, it is important that you define what you are looking for and what that career path might look like. Once you have that in mind, have a look around at those individuals who are currently employed at your company in your dream job and reach out. Mentoring relationships will be successful if there is a good match between the mentor and the mentee. Some mentorships are formal, others are far more casual.
Be open to mentoring others as well. There may be individuals in your company who are interested in a MSL role. When those opportunities appear, take the time to provide the mentorship. If you are thinking about mentorship outside of your company, consider the wider community of MSLs beyond just your company. For more experienced MSLs, the MSL Society has a mentorship program in which you could serve as a mentor for others. Volunteering and being active in professional societies can positively impact your career and visibility among your MSL peers.
The bottom line is, it takes extra effort on your part to stay visible at your company when you work remotely. In addition to the points above, think about taking initiative, going above and beyond what’s necessary at work and being that person who creates solutions to problems no one wants to tackle. When you are recognized as a resource your manager and your peers can depend on, you will make an impact and will be top of mind even when you aren’t physically in front of your colleagues on a daily basis.
Elizabeth Kupferer, PhD is a Regional Director, Medical Science Liaisons in Ophthalmology at Novartis. She has extensive experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL), MSL Director and Sr. Director of Medical Affairs.