Graduate profile: Shannon Douglas, Launch Planning Intern, AstraZeneca

I’m just about to go into my final year of my BA (Hons) Business Management degree at Abertay University in Scotland. At AstraZeneca I’m responsible for the launch planning processes for two of AstraZeneca’s largest respiratory drugs.

I was attracted to working in the pharmaceutical industry because I like to help people and being able to work in an organisation that impacts the lives of thousands of people daily was attractive to me.

Dynamic environment

I chose to apply to AstraZeneca as I’d seen first-hand how their products can change people’s lives and I wanted to be part of that. Secondly the company has had a resurgence over the last few years under the guidance of Chief Executive Pascal Soriot, with lots of new investment into their portfolio and infrastructure. I wanted to be part of a company that was at the forefront of innovation and AstraZeneca was just that.

The biggest opportunity I have had while working with AstraZeneca is working in such a large and dynamic cross functional team. Their expertise in respiratory and management has been a great learning experience for me. I have also been afforded a great deal of responsibility while here at AstraZeneca, including being responsible for delivering training sessions to the global team on new launch processes and directly influencing the launch event for a new drug in the company’s portfolio.

A day in the life

I start my day early, normally around 6am; I don’t like to rush in the morning. I’ll have a cup of coffee and check my emails to see if there’s anything I need to address right away. Then I’ll get ready and either walk or cycle to the office. Once there I find a desk (in the Cambridge office we hot desk) and set up for the day. I’ll then have a short meeting with my mentor, Global Inline Lead Syd Cassimaty, to get aligned on tasks that need completing, or any meetings that are happening that day. At lunch, myself and the fellow interns like to take advantage of the gym classes on offer at the building’s gym or enjoy our lunch on the rooftop seating area which saw a lot of use during the heatwave. I normally leave the office at 5pm and head home to relax and get ready for the next day.

No two days are ever the same. The office is so dynamic with new faces appearing every day and everyone is so warm and welcoming.

Support and advice

My mentor, Syd, is very involved in the work I am doing. We have daily catch-ups to ensure I’m on track and not struggling which I have really appreciated. This is the first time I’ve worked in an environment like this and having his support to fall back on has made the whole process a lot easier.

My advice to anyone thinking of a career in this industry is to leave any prior ideas you have about the industry at the door. The media paints a picture of the pharmaceutical industry that simply isn’t true. Go in with an open mind and say yes to every opportunity that is thrown at you.

Where next?

Over the next few years I see myself working for a large corporation in either project management or digital marketing. It’s an exciting journey I can’t wait to go on.