Kevin, a Life Sciences Director with Clarkston Consulting, discusses his career switch experience from industry to consulting. Kevin shares the nuances between working in industry and consulting and how Clarkston has helped prepare him:
Kevin’s Career Experience:
My career spans 20 years of global Operations and Compliance experience, with 15 years in the Life Sciences industry. I have held leadership roles of increasing responsibilities at Novartis, Azurity Pharmaceuticals, and Life Biosciences leading diverse functions including Manufacturing, Operations, Clinical and Commercial Supply Chains, Quality, and Regulatory CMC. I have developed and integrated commercial functions and processes that supported the drug development lifecycle resulting in multiple drug approvals and commercialization successes. I have had the opportunity to work in both large and pre-commercial pharmaceutical start-up companies, experiencing firsthand the dynamic operational and strategic spectrums of advancing drug therapies throughout their development lifecycle.
I first became aware of Clarkston Consulting in mid-2019 when a professional acquaintance was working alongside a Clarkston project team at a pre-commercial biotech company. Through extensive collaboration both professionally and personally, my acquaintance was struck on the strong professional characteristics and traits each Clarkston steward possessed and the pride each one had working for the company. Based on her advice, I decided to pursue an opportunity at Clarkston and joined the company in September 2019.
Before joining Clarkston Consulting, I spent over 15 years working for Fortune 500 companies in a diverse array of functions and leadership roles. I had the privilege throughout my tenure to be given opportunities to work and lead global projects and functions specific to Operations, Manufacturing, Quality, and Regulatory. I was exposed to an array of operational and strategic challenges that had a significant impact to the company’s direction and objectives. Through each one of these opportunities, I inherited a deep education in technical, financial, and leadership disciplines that served me in collaborating with global stakeholders, leading cross-functional teams, and executing projects. The strong training and skillsets I developed at these large organizations gave me the confidence to explore more challenging positions at start-up pharmaceutical companies that were strategically pivoting from research-oriented operations to commercially driven ones, requiring resources with expertise in infrastructure and functional development. The challenge did not disappoint and the exposure to a wider appreciation of the cross-functional effort and risk taking to transition a company to this stage is one that provided me an immense education that I can continue to leverage throughout my career.
The Switch from Industry to Consulting:
Throughout my industry experience, I have been exposed to both consulting firms and independent consultants. In fact, many consultants that I have worked with in industry I developed close bonds with and continue to stay in touch with both professionally and personally. This exposure gave me insight into whether or not this career path was one that I wanted to pursue. If you are highly motivated, enjoy solving high exposure industry challenges, and eager to learn, this career path is for you. Consulting appealed to me for a variety of reasons, but the overarching reason was opportunity. Firstly, I enjoy the opportunity to gain insight into the top strategic challenges that a company faces and to leverage my experience in collaborating with their teams on developing and implementing a workable solution.
I also enjoy working on diverse projects for different types of organizations which provides an opportunity to be exposed to unique industry policies, procedures, and structures that culminate into an invaluable asset that can be leveraged to generate and implement solutions for other clients. This career also forces you to think creatively and adapt your approach and solution to the needs of the client. Lastly, it awards you the opportunity to be part of a dedicated, diverse, and hard-working team environment where the single focus is to collaborate with your client to develop and implement the most productive solution to meet their requirements.
How has Clarkston prepared you for a career in consulting?
Clarkston is truly dedicated in bringing out the best in each individual. The company provides the ecosystem and roadmap to allow each employee to own their careers with management participating extensively in one’s development. The tools and resources available to employees to develop their knowledge and skill set is extensive. Approaches to development include, but not limited to, diverse project assignments, skill-based training, employee assessments, and peer-to-peer collaborations. Clarkston also fosters an entrepreneurial and team driven culture which values innovation, taking chances, and continuously improving oneself to meet the ever-changing requirements of the client. The level of empowerment and trust that management places on their employees is truly a differentiator between Clarkston and other businesses, which in turn allows employees to think and act creatively to strengthen not only their skillsets but collectively bolster Clarkston’s value as a strategic partner to industry.
How has your industry experience helped you now that you’ve made the switch from industry to consulting?
With an extensive industry background that was exposed to inter-disciplinary strategies, policies, and processes, this experience has supported me tremendously in my work with clients in the Life Sciences industry. Through practical experience, I am able to approach a client’s problem by quickly identifying its key drivers, build solutions and recommendations through objective evidence, and implement a solution with a methodical approach. I am also able to thoroughly anticipate opportunities and potential conflicts and clearly perceive interdependencies among stakeholders when discussing multiple solution approaches with the client. Even though these skills are significant in executing brilliant client services, the most important one is building productive relationships with your client. Actively listening and understanding the client’s challenges, building trust, and being empathetic to their situation develops a strong bond which creates an environment that fosters effective communication, improves teamwork, reduces conflict, generates new opportunities, and a long-term collaborative partnership.
Advice for Someone Making the Switch from Industry to Consulting:
My advice to anyone looking to switch into consulting is to take a step back from the day-to-day responsibilities of your position and ask the questions “What motivates you in your career?” and “What drives you to succeed?” If your responses including solving complex problems; overcoming challenges; applying leadership skills; acquiring new skills, or partnering with team members who are like-minded, hard working professionals, then consulting is a career path that you should consider. Clarkston Consulting will provide you the opportunity to stretch developmentally and expose you to vast strategic and operational challenges that face both small and large companies in multiple industries. The experience, knowledge, and skillsets that you can gain from being a part of these opportunities will develop you into a sought-after professional who can deliver valuable solutions to a growing list of client challenges. Being exposed to opportunities is the primary key to professional success and the career path of consulting is one of the best ways to access this, especially at Clarkston Consulting where everyone is focused and committed to providing you the pathway to be successful.