A new vision about consultancy agencies
An honest review of working with different consultancy agencies
My name is Julie Lagden and I wanted to take the time to talk about my personal experience with consultancy agencies. I want to start by being totally honest and admit that I never thought I’d one day be employed by a Consultancy Agency again.
First things first
Freshly graduated as an Industrial Pharmacist in 2015, after 6 years of studying at the University of Brussels (ULB) (5 years to become a Pharmacist + 1-year master’s degree to become an Industrial Pharmacist), I was eager to start in the professional world.
My priority was to become a Qualified Person (QP) as soon as possible (a QP is a person that certifies that the medicinal product produced can be released for sale or supply because it is in accordance with the relevant requirements). To become a QP you need a certificate from the FAMHP (Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products) and it consists in a training of minimum 6 months in a Pharmaceutical industry.
Bad first professional experience in Consultancy Agency
My first professional experience started in 2015 in a consultancy agency, MCA Benelux, and I made it very clear at my first interview that I wanted to become a QP as soon as possible. The agency heard what I had to say and told me I first had to start with a short-term mission to gain experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry before starting the QP training.
Taking their advice into account, I started in the Quality Assurance department, at Eli Lilly. This was my first experience in the Pharmaceutical world. After a couple of months, I went back to my consultancy agency as the mission ended, I was ‘on the bench’, and they promised to find an opportunity where I could become a QP, but nothing happened.
Despite my good will, as nothing was moving, and they didn’t seem to care about my evolution and what I wanted professionally, I started looking for a new opportunity by myself. I rapidly found what I was looking for and left the agency with a lot of disappointment and anger. No later than September 2016, I started my training to become a QP as an intern in a French Industrial pharmacy (Delpharm).
Giving a second chance
After my training to become a QP, I had my certificate in the pocket and wanted to find a new opportunity in a bigger industrial pharmacy where I could test my competences as a young QP. My ‘secret dream’ at the time was to get a job at a Belgian Pharmaceutical Industry, UCB (Union Chimique Belge), as a Qualified Person. I started applying internally in several companies, but I didn’t get the return I hoped for. After being a little discouraged, I started thinking about the possibility to open the doors to the Consultancy world again. This step was big for me as I had been hugely let down by the last agency I was employed by. Nevertheless, I started answering the calls of many consultancy agencies but with a lot of mistrust.
Then came the call of Matthieu Saintmard from Strand Associates, that’s when things changed. As usual, it’s a discussion where the Business Manager asks questions about what you want to do, also talks about the agency, and in this case what Strand Associates has to offer, etc. until there no big changes. After that first call, Matthieu proposed to meet face to face, which we did, and the interview went smoothly. The contact was great and what clearly stood out from the other interviews was that he was interested in where my priorities lied, where I wanted to go and how I wanted to evolve.
I also told him about my ‘secret dream’ even though it was kind of a utopia. However, I stopped the interviews I still had to go to because I just had this inexplicable greatest feeling that I had to trust Matthieu and go with my gut. Not long after the interview with Matthieu I received a call from the man himself to announce he had an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. The job offer was a long-term mission at UCB as a QP support. In other words, EXACTLY what I was looking for! Honestly, I couldn’t believe it and at the same time I knew I was right to trust my gut and that I could trust Matthieu and therefore Strand Associates. I knew I wasn’t just going to be a number that gets cash in, but way more.
Happy as a singing bird
As of this day, I don’t regret a single day reopening the doors to consultancy. Thanks to that I have a great job with a great team at UCB. I couldn’t be happier where I am professionally. It has been nearly 2 years since I’ve started my mission as a QP support at UCB. I have learned hugely, and I love the UCB spirit because even though it’s a big company it’s stays humane.
I am still at Strand Associates and don’t want to leave even if I had the chance to! Not only because my business manager is THE person I can turn to for everything and anything but also because of all the positivity that Strand as an agency spreads and has to offer. In a few words,
Strand is by far the best Consultancy Agency in terms of caring, listening, open minded, open to different opinions, initiatives, team strength, and I can go on for ages. I hope that people who have had a negative mindset on consultancy agencies or still have, like I had in the past, can read this article and change their minds. I can assure you, not all the agencies have the same way of thinking, and Strand Associates is one of the rare ones that stands out of the lot.
New challenges to come
At the end of this year it will be the end of my mission as a QP support. Honestly, even though I’m sad to leave my actual UCB team and it has been a great 2 years, I can’t wait to be next year to find a new opportunity, new mission together with Strand. A new challenge awaits me, and I know I can count on Strand to lead me in the right direction.