Jennifer Amponsah Adjalo – Clinical Research Study Leader
What do you do?
I’m a Clinical Research Study Leader at a large pharmaceutical company. In my role, I provide leadership for Study Management Teams responsible for delivering clinical trials globally. I am currently setting up a Phase 2 respiratory study which is keeping me really busy.
Day to day activities can vary depending on the stage of your trial; this could involve creating and reviewing plans and clinical trial documents, reviewing budgets, leading and attending different types of meeting, training doctors and their staff participating in clinical trials and many more! Crucially I have a cross functional team that I lead with the aim of executing the trial within budget, time and quality standards.
What do you enjoy most about being a Clinical Research Study Leader?
Study management is so vast and so you are continuously learning and doing something new. I have worked on trials in an array of therapeutic such as inflammation, oncology and rare diseases across Phases 1 to 3. I also enjoy working with a variety of people across the globe and this can sometime give you a chance to travel. I love the fact that I am continuously developing on a wide range of skills such a leadership, communication and time management skills.
How did you get into Pharma?
During my pharmacology degree I realised that I did not want to be in the lab and started searching for options. In my third year, I remember seeing a single slide of clinical research and then went on to do some digging. This led me to apply for a Master’ at the very last minute, which covered the pharmaceutical industry as a whole and included a lab based placement at Pfizer. Once I completed the course, I was able to secure my first role as a Clinical Trial Assistant at a small phase one unit in London. I later progressed into the Clinical Research Associate role before eventually progressing into various study management roles and then becoming a Study Leader.
Why not!? I love the fact that I can still impact the health of many people using a different skill set from those we traditionally believe are the only ones that are able to (i,e healthcare workers). Also, I’ve seen a number of people move around different sectors of the industry (Medical Affairs, Marketing, Data Management etc) which inspires me that should I want to do something new, I can move onto that right within the industry.
What has your experience been being #BlackInPharma?
When I first started, I felt like I had to change myself in order to really fit in. I can recall a story of when I got a job at one of the early companies I worked for; anyone that knows me is aware that I have a rather large afro, however on my first day I made sure that I had slicked back my hair and that it was in a bun in order to look “professional” (which was what I also did for the interview). Once I got to my desk, I was greeted by a vibrant black lady (the only other black person on that floor) who had her fro out! Needless-to-say, from that day forth I never put my hair in a bun again and wore by afro out in all of its glory! As I have progressed through my career, I have just learned to be my authentic self. The pharma industry does need more diversity however, it is a little better than when I started. I feel like there is more opportunity to network with other black professionals within industry especially using platforms such as LinkedIn.
Top tips to getting into your role/Pharma?
Network - Speak to people to get an insight into the area you interested in, also to get advice.
Do your research about your chosen field - when you secure an interview for a role you have not done before, employers want to see that you have a good understanding of the role/area you are applying for.
For students - if you have a chance do a placement, do so as this will give you a bit of a head start.
Be persistent - your efforts will have an outcome, even if it seems to be challenging to get your foot in the door.
I am a massive tomboy and love playing football and lifting weights. When I first met my husband, he refused to believe that I played football until he spotted my dirty football boots in my car boot!