Melissa Mudge Explains How Employee Resource Groups can Provide Support for MSLs

Melissa Mudge Explains How Employee Resource Groups can Provide Support for MSLs

What is an employee resource group?

There are several different terms which exist across the industry including employee resource groups (ERGs), employee networks, and employee business groups.  All of these refer to voluntary groups of employees who work together to promote cultural diversity, awareness, development, support, and education.  An employee resource group is almost always part of an organization’s larger diversity & inclusion efforts.  These groups present opportunities for employees to gain skills outside of their direct role, contribute unique insights to business objectives, and help develop and become a part of the company community.  ERGs often establish and tailor activities, events, and meetings to their specific members but also may hold events or outreach for the company at large.  A challenge which exists for field-based employees is that many of these groups are primarily based and focus on the main corporate office employees.  I look forward to sharing recommendations at the Summit on how field-based employees can become actively involved!

How do employee resource groups support career advancement?

There are several ways employee resource group involvement can help support career advancement.  The first is the tremendous networking capabilities it can bring to an employee.  These connections can be of benefit from a professional or personal perspective.  Also, expanded involvement will enhance an employee’s visibility and name recognition within the company.  Another critical benefit of employee resource group involvement includes the leadership and skill development one gains through their active participation.  Examples include budget management, project management, building and leading teams, negotiating, and platform skills.  Finally, active participation or leadership within ERGs allows employees to not only develop themselves, but also to mentor and impact other colleagues.

How do you setup and gain buy-in for employee resource groups?

The key component for development and longevity of employee resource groups is larger support from a company’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts or Human Resources Department.  The benefits and impact of diversity & inclusion efforts in today’s professional organizations are well documented, and employee resource groups are one component which strengthens those efforts.  Seeking information and examples from other corporations can help in a business plan or proposal.  Also beneficial is networking and communicating with individuals at other companies who are deeply involved and experienced in this area.  This is especially important for groups working to establish or strengthen Field Chapters or a reach to their field-based employees.  In order to provide budget and resources to develop and maintain these groups and their activities, buy-in from larger organizational leadership is critical.

Should you have additional specific employee resource groups for women? If so how do you establish them alongside general resource groups, and how should their objectives differ?

There are several categories of employee resource groups that currently exist which have a large focus and mission in supporting women in the workplace.  These include numerous types of Women’s Leadership groups, Parenting groups, and Women’s Empowerment groups.  However, women should be directly involved in all appropriate categories of resource groups regardless of the focus or target audience.  Each employee resource group should have a specific mission and objectives which not only help tailor their activities and initiatives but also differentiate them from other groups.  One critical objective, which I am excited to discuss further, is how to ensure these groups reach women not only in the main corporate office locations but also in field-based positions.

Copyright 2013-2018 The Medical Science Liaison Society. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authorization. The MSL Society is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization dedicated to advancing the global MSL career.

 

Dr. Lisa Farnett Speaks on How Women Can be Influential in the MSL Role

Dr. Lisa Farnett Speaks on How Women Can be Influential in the MSL Role

How do women communicate differently than men and what challenges does this create?

Women are culturally conditioned to communicate differently than men, and this can create challenges of perceived competence in the business setting. However, if women simply copy the communication style of men, the communication can be misperceived as harsh or aggressive. In the business environment, women can learn to communicate in a way that conveys leadership presence without undermining the perception of competence.

What are the most common pitfalls that you have seen women experience in the MSL profession? How can female MSLs overcome them?

As an MSL manager, I have seen women undermine their communication in choice of words and vocal presence. Female also MSLs seem to have significant difficulty in communicating accomplishments. Through techniques used in the workshop, female MSLs will learn how to communicate effectively with KOLs as well as internally with managers and senior executives.

How can women influence the different stakeholders they work with?

Influence and understanding are the goals of many written and verbal communication opportunities. Female MSLs can recognize obstacles to effective communication such as qualifiers like “just” and “I think” and others, controlling vocal presence, and small changes in body language that will make a large impression.

How does improved communication skills lead to better performance and productivity?

Effective and impactful communication is essential to KOL engagement and MSL performance indicators.

Copyright 2013-2018 The Medical Science Liaison Society. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authorization. The MSL Society is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization dedicated to advancing the global MSL career.

 

Dr. Judi Vensak Gives Advice to MSLs and MSL Managers Who Want to Advance in Leadership

Dr. Judi Vensak Gives Advice to MSLs and MSL Managers Who Want to Advance in Leadership

Please describe your career and journey into MSL Leadership.

Looking back, I can say with certainty that my journey to the MSL role and MSL leadership was not one by design! A long tenure in clinical medicine at an academic center put me in the company of many brilliant clinicians, challenging patients, and cutting edge researchers each day. A drug development partnership and the chance to do something completely different in life led me to my first MSL position 13 years ago.

How have your diverse experiences contributed to your success?

For me, career success is defined by really loving and finding purpose in my work after all, it is an area of life where we devote a majority of waking hours! Fortunately I was insightful enough to seek and seize opportunities to learn, contribute, lead, and network. It seemed like there was a wise and willing mentor at every pivotal point along the way. Every patient, position, colleague, and especially my successes and failures (alike) paved the path and equipped me with skills and experiences I use and draw on every single day.

How do you create and manage a positive culture in a fast growing MSL team?

Creating a positive culture begins at the interview and with every decision to offer an MSL the opportunity to join our team. We believe members must not only be intellectually competent and skilled to do the work but that they’re self leaders and demonstrate the ability to contribute to a positive and productive teamwork environment. My Leaders and I are keenly aware that we must model actions that we expect from our teams and members. Our leadership styles may be different but our basic philosophy to support activities and reward behaviors that develop individuals, build trust and cohesion, and promote collaboration (a core company value!) is aligned.

What advice can you give to MSLs and MSL managers who are looking to advance and leadership?

  • Be clear in your definition of success;life’s way too short to spend time pursuing any position or a position in a company that’s not in alignment with your true self and values.
  • Practice self leadership principles whether you hold positional power at work (yet!) or not.
  • Create a written plan of specific short and long term career goals and identify resources, people, and opportunities you’ll seek for the knowledge and experience needed to achieve them.
  • Create a separate but similar written plan for leadership skills development.
  • Network and find trusting others (colleague, manager, or mentor) to help you implement both plans and access opportunities for advancement.

I look forward to seeing you at the Women’s Summit where we can discuss your path to leadership!

Copyright 2013-2018 The Medical Science Liaison Society. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authorization. The MSL Society is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization dedicated to advancing the global MSL career.

 

Dr. Emily Scales Shares her Thoughts on Work-Life Balance in the MSL Career

Dr. Emily Scales Shares her Thoughts on Work-Life Balance in the MSL Career

Why is balancing family life and the MSL role an important topic, regardless of gender?

The MSL role can be overwhelming and time consuming; with the technology of today, we are accessible 24/7.  The job will take every minute you put into it and still want for more.  The boundaries between work and life will blur. There is no complete separation, but there must be balance.  Balance in this sense does not necessarily mean ‘an even distribution,’ however.  The balance must work for you, your employer, and your family – wherever that balance falls in the end.

How do you balance MSL leadership with raising a child?

My child is my priority and sometimes that means having to go to work rather than spend the day with her.  It is not always easy; and I have made many mistakes!  But, it is important to me to show my daughter a woman can be a successful professional and still show up for piano recitals, class field trips, occasionally even be the class room mother.  She makes me a better leader. I am more patient, more innovative, and more forgiving.  I am learning every day, but my balance is often through constant motion.

Whilst working from home, what are some ways or techniques you utilize to ensure the separation of work and personal space?

First and foremost, I strongly recommend a separate and defined work space.  The best scenario would be a separate room/office, however, a small portion of a room can suffice.  There are several techniques I’ve used over the years – some have worked out quite well, others, not so much.  Come to the workshop; I might even share my most epic failures…

What advice can you give to MSL mothers regarding the extensive travel associated with the MSL career?

Stop feeling guilty!  Both men and women travel for work, but women are more often harboring the feeling of guilt.  I did.  While at work I felt I should be home with my child.  When home spending time with my child, I felt I wasn’t putting enough effort in at work.  Find the balance, make it work for you, and trust it is the right thing.  Beyond that, be organized and plan ahead is my best advice.

Copyright 2013-2018 The Medical Science Liaison Society. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authorization. The MSL Society is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization dedicated to advancing the global MSL career.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Kupferer Speaks on the Challenges Women Face in the MSL Profession

Dr. Elizabeth Kupferer Speaks on the Challenges Women Face in the MSL Profession

What are the main challenges facing women in the MSL profession?

With regard to the MSL profession, for the most part the gender playing field is fairly even. But one of the most challenging for all MSLs is the travel involved and it’s impact on work life balance. There are some great sessions at the summit where you will hear from extraordinary women who have been very successful in navigating through these challenges.

How can the MSL Society Women Summit help raise awareness for female career progression?

The MSL Society Women’s Summit highlights and gives voice to successful women along the MSL career path and beyond. The Summit will provide a networking opportunity with a diverse group of women from experienced MSLs that have navigated through an MSL career path to Novices to the MSL role, yet bring a wealth of other experiences with them.

Who are you looking forward to most during the summit?

I am really looking forward to hearing Dr. Brandi Howard discuss her transition from Big Pharma to Biotech. Dr. Howard’s career path is truly inspiring as she has traversed from an entry level MSL to a Global VP. She is a personal dynamo and I believe everyone will truly enjoy her hearing from her.

As an experienced MSL Leader, what advice can you give to female MSLs to accelerate in their careers?

First and foremost is to really stay in the trenches early on and learn the role. It takes a few years to really understand the role and become a great MSL. Other than that, throughout your career, efficiency, persistence and networking always pay off.

Copyright 2013-2018 The Medical Science Liaison Society. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authorization. The MSL Society is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization dedicated to advancing the global MSL career.