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Janet White
Featured Profile: 
At A Glance
Licensed Body: 
Scientist Type: 
First Degree: 
Natural Sciences
Development Director
San Diego, California
Works For: 
MA (Natural Sciences), Cambridge, MBA, Open Business School
Pet Hates: 
Deliberate mis-information / fudging the facts
Burning Ambition: 
To publish a book
To fly! Not only would it be exhilarating but it would get a great way to quickly get around traffic and delays, from A to B.
Big Picture
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
An astrophysicist.
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
My father is a professor of physics. I was also inspired by my chemistry teachers at school – I loved the colours and smells of chemistry
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
In the pharmaceutical industry we are in the business of curing disease, which is philosophically very satisfying. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of science and learning how things work on a molecular level
What would you change? 
I have made several changes in my career – moving from bench to business. Change is a way of life!
What qualifications did you take at school? 
A levels in chemistry, physics, maths and further maths and S levels in chemistry and physics
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
BA in Natural Sciences (Cambridge) – I majored in organic and theoretical chemistry because I enjoyed the beauty and symmetry of designing organic syntheses and of quantum mechanics
Do you have a Masters or PhD? If not, was it difficult to demonstrate Masters-level equivalence in order to achieve CSci? 
Cambridge awards MAs to its graduates 6 years after matriculation. I also have an MBA, which is not directly relevant to CSci status, but which enabled me to get career experience to support achieving CSci. I did not encounter difficulty in demonstrating I was a suitable level to achieve CSci
How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I manage drug development projects in cancer, ophthalmology and therapeutic vaccines.
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
Currently I work with discovery of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and vaccines, which are the fastest growing and hottest segments of new biotech drugs.
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
We hope to find a cure for cancer.
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Working with multidisciplinary teams to solve scientific problems and to bring new drugs to patients that need them.
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
I started out in the laboratory as an analytical chemist and spectroscopist at Beecham Pharmaceuticals, working on antibiotic research. I later transferred to supporting drug development and process development activities. On obtaining my MBA, I changed careers and went into strategy consulting with a major consulting firm, where I applied my analytical skills to projects for chemical and pharmaceutical company clients across a broad range of functional areas (sales and marketing, manufacturing, IT, HR, new product planning, mergers and acquisitions, managing change). My consulting career took me from the UK to the US, where I now live and work. I transitioned back into industry working as an internal strategy consultant for Pfizer’s Global R&D organization and from that role, moved into a third career in Business Development at two different biotech companies. My most recent move was back to Pfizer to work in project and portfolio management.
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
In my role I work across all functions across research and development to advance programs through clinical development.
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
In the US a 6 figure salary is typical for my kind of role, however significant experience is required to enter the field.
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
As pharmaceutical research and development is increasingly outsourced, project management plays a vital role in coordination of internal and external cross-functional activities.
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
Being able to tap into the wide network of expertise that resides within a large pharmaceutical company.
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
Completing a $500M value deal ($25M upfront payment) for a preclinical cancer product with Novartis, while I was at SGX Pharmaceuticals. And also receiving a Service Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry for overseas activities in November 2009
Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
Yes, I work hard but manage to make time for family, friends and extracurricular activities
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
It’s a senior executive role with significant influence.
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Playing the cello, both chamber music and in an orchestra, is my main passion, but I also enjoy cooking, particularly making pastry dishes, and relaxing with my pet dogs
Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
I wanted to achieve a standardized certification / mark of quality and professional standing
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Extremely high in supporting career and professional development training, advice and support, and also in networking to make contacts and friends that support career advancement
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
It is extremely important for professionals to keep pace with the changing scientific and business environments, to ensure the consistent quality of the certification
Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Seek opportunities to broaden your experience. Volunteer to take on the projects no-one else wants as often these turn out to be the best opportunities to learn and develop
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
Mentoring is always important – seeking guidance around career choices and opportunities, and to understand and adapt to company culture. I personally have not had a mentor so have had to make my own opportunities. I would have liked to have a helping hand along the way!
How would you define “professionalism”? 
Dealing skillfully with technical and business matters in one’s field of expertise
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
I would have taken the time to obtain a PhD before entering industry
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
I would like to be remembered for my leadership of a successful drug company
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