Interviews

Mary Lynn Lakin, MSL Manager of the Year (US) 2018

What has winning the award meant to you?

Winning the MSL manager of the year award has been a very humbling experience. Managers are most often in the background showcasing the successes of their teams and direct reports.  That is our role, and the area where most of us are comfortable.  Although I thoroughly enjoy celebrating the successes of others – this has been a unique and wonderful experience.  That is not to say that I am not frequently acknowledged by my leadership for my efforts, but in my MSL management experience there has not been a formal award process for a manager.  Winning the inaugural MSL manager of the year award is validation that I am doing a good job for those that have put their trust in me.   

Why did you enter the competition?

I’ve had the opportunity to lead two of Takeda’s three MSL regions during the past year.   When I learned that the nomination was compiled by members from both teams I was extremely humbled and wanted to honor that nomination by participating.  I am grateful to be recognized by those I lead and completed the process to show them how much I appreciated the recognition.

How do these awards benefit the MSL community?

These awards benefit the MSL community by providing a forum to acknowledge the value MSLs bring to their organization, their colleagues, and the medical community. Success and excellence are challenging to measure in the MSL role, there is no one size metric.  These awards can inspire others to strive for excellence and may serve to elevate our profession. 

As someone who has been recognized for their excellence within the MSL profession, what advice would you give others in our profession?

Excellence should be a goal in everything we do, but how we get there may be different.  I have always relied on the premise that if you take care of people, the rest will fall into place.  To me this means to be as genuine and transparent as possible, to be responsive, collaborative and most of all to be a good listener.  It is hard to be an effective servant leader, without first learning what people need and want.  This includes KOLs, MSL colleagues, our leadership, as well as cross-functional colleagues.  Internal relationships are just as important as external relationships.  The MSL role provides a valuable service and people have entrusted us with much responsibility.  How we step up to deliver on that is up to us.  There is no magic path to excellence but you will never go wrong by putting people first. 

What do you think are some of the keys to being successful within the MSL profession?

At the risk of being redundant, the MSL role is one of service.  In my opinion, keys to success include a clear understanding of the role as well as organizational goals and expectations; the ability to leverage your strengths and to embracing change; learning what matters most to people, and showing integrity in every situation.   

Prashant Desai, MSL of the Year (US) 2018

What has winning the award meant to you?

Winning the “MSL of the Year- U.S” has been a culmination of my passion for medicine coupled with a strong belief that physicians value “clinicians” and the expertise they bring to them for making well informed decisions for their patients. This belief is predicated on the “evidence based medicine” as the benchmark and having a continuum of  dialogue on the latest evolution of data in their respective specialty. I have enjoyed working directly with physicians in many specialties to impact healthcare and ultimately make a remarkable impact on the lives of patients. The award signifies Excellence as an Medical Science Liaison and I am honored to be the inaugural recipient of this award.

Why did you enter the competition?

I have spent my entire career striving to the the absolute best in the MSL field. I have focused my many years in the bio pharmaceutical industry to learn, craft, and ultimately master the role. My team at AbbVie would always tell me how much of an impact my role made in the lives of patients and I felt this was a compelling reason to enter. Coupled with winning multiple awards at AbbVie, this was an excellent time to enter this competition.

How do these awards benefit the MSL community?

 These awards are the platform to recognize Excellence in the MSL role. This award has brought a spotlight to this role and allowed me to build my brand of leadership through winning the award. It’s also allowed me to share with many interested individuals, the facets of the role that are rarely spoken about. These include great interpersonal skills, high emotional intelligence, strong intellect for medicine and treatment paradigms, and the ability to work with many cross-functional partners.

 

As someone who has been recognized for their excellence within the MSL profession, what advice would you give others in our profession?

 I would tell others to always strive for excellence and continue to work and drive our profession with leadership, passion, and a high level of emotional intelligence. Excellence is a culmination of discipline, passion, and execution. I wake up every day wanting to make a difference and that is what will set you apart.

What do you think are some of the keys to being successful within the MSL profession?

 I think the keys include a passion for medicine, treatment paradigms, excellent communication skills, high emotional intelligence (EQ), and the ability to work with many cross-functional colleagues to enrich the lives of patients. We put the patient at the center of everything we do. It also helps to be a road warrior :).

Victor Sastre, MSL of the Year (Outside the US) 2018

What has winning the award meant to you?

For me, winning this award means the recognition of many years living a very intense passion for the position of MSL. I have always believed that our position is vital and necessary within the pharmaceutical industry.

I have spent many years working as a MSL and trying to convey the essence of the role in different forums (MSL lectures, Master Classes, MBA sessions, specific MSL talks, coordination and participation in work groups to improve our position, etc). This recognition has made me very happy and I hope to continue working with great enthusiasm in the different projects we have underway. There is still a lot to be done.

Why did you enter the competition?

When I saw the first call for the award I was happily surprised. It was the first time a medical affairs position was valued for recognition. I was very interested in knowing how the MSL Society was going to evaluate the different profiles. I think they did a great job considering all the competences within the role.

I got into it quickly but it took several weeks to get all the answers, justifications and documentation. It was not an easy task to have everything for the submission, but it was worth it.

How do these awards benefit the MSL community?

I believe that any activity that reveals our role within the pharmaceutical industry and outside is very positive for the promotion of our role. We have always seen the job of our sales colleagues recognized, but never that of a figure in the medical department.

Opportunities like this are what make the reputation of our daily work grow by helping doctors so that more patients benefit from the best treatments.

As someone who has been recognized for their excellence within the MSL profession, what advice would you give other in our professionals?

As I mentioned in the award ceremony, the important thing is not the salary or the reputation that you can have as a MSL. What really matters is that you work with passion in all the activities that you carry out in your day to day with doctors, societies and teammates. If you work truly believing in your role as an expert and giving the best of yourself, you will achieve success in everything you do and you will feel successful.

What do you think are some of the keys to being successful within the MSL profession?

I think the key to our position is to be clear about our role. We are very well trained experts who help the the medical community make sound decisions based on published scientific data. It is always based solely on the available scientific information and never by promoting drugs. You must be clear about that “double red line” that separates the information from the promotion. If you are clear about this starting point, you can start to play with enthusiasm and the good results will come along.

A tip for aspirants, as I always say, is that if you want to be a MSL “you have to feel very good on your own” most of your time in the field you are alone, you are your own time and visit manager, your own travel companion and many times you have to share your success and your failures only with yourself.

Monica Bolton, MSL Rookie of the Year (US) 2018

What has winning this award meant to you?

Winning this award was a complete surprise yet represents a symbol of appreciation from my peers and healthcare professionals. Being the “MSL Rookie of the Year” is an honor and gives me motivation to help those who are pursuing this career path. It’s truly a rewarding profession and am grateful that the MSL Society supports our success.

Why did you enter this competition?

The MSL Society helped me land my first position by providing resources and networking opportunities. I decided to accept the nomination because having recognition of a job well done by the MSL Society would be (and is!) an honor. I felt that being selected would be a long-shot, since I knew other qualified and successful nominated MSLs.

How do these awards benefit the MSL community?:

These awards benefit the MSL community by bringing together and recognizing those in the profession from across companies. When MSLs from different backgrounds come together, great ideas to help each other do better can be exchanged.

 

As someone who has been recognized for their excellence within the MSL profession, what advice would you give other in our professionals?

I’m honored to be recognized for excellence within the MSL profession but I do realize that I am still learning. I’ve been an MSL for one year and am picking up new skills everyday. That being said, my advice for others in our profession would be to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Ultimately, we are here to help patients and that may be easily forgotten during our day to day activities.

 

What do you think are some of the keys to being successful within the MSL profession?:

Some of the keys to being successful within the MSL profession include teamwork, compassion, and intentional listening. Being a team player is essential to this profession. My teammates are my support system for any question, problem, advice, scientific information, etc… Our management fosters strong team mentality and everyone benefits. Without compassion for the disease state and patients, MSLs would not have the motivation to do our job effectively and to bring back meaningful insights to our internal colleagues from our external experts. Lastly, intentional listening is key to understanding what our external experts (and internal colleagues) are really saying and drives your conversation in a way that benefits everyone involved, rather than just yourself. There are many more attributes to being successful as an MSL but these are a few to consider.

Debra Payne, MSL Rookie of the Year (Outside the US) 2018

What has winning the award meant to you?

This MSL Award has given me great joy and confidence in my role.

Why did you enter the competition?

 My colleagues had asked in the past how to nominate me for an Award for my support of the Team. I informed them of the MSL Award.

How do these awards benefit the MSL community?

These Awards inspire others to strive for greatness, just in every other field that acknowledges excellence.

As someone who has been recognized for their excellence within the MSL profession, what advice would you give other in our professionals?

If being an MSL is an aspiration, never give up on your goal. Do all the things, in parallel, that an MSL does.  Maybe give a talk at your local community center, question your physician why they choose certain medications or attend great meetings like the MSL Society Annual Conference.

What do you think are some of the keys to being successful within the MSL profession?

Passion, patience, analytical and humor.  Always want to enjoy what you are doing and share that joy with others.