Pf Award Winner Zuchaela Smylie on her path to pharma sales

Zuchaela Smylie, Therapy Representative at GSK in partnership with Ashfield Healthcare and 2018 Pf Award winner – Best Newcomer, on how coming from a non-scientific background has not held her back. Here she shares her path to a pharma sales career.

What is your current role and what territory do you cover?

I am a Primary Care Sales Representative within the Respiratory market and I cover the Forth Valley Healthboard in Scotland.

Congratulations on your Pf Award win, how did you feel when you heard your name called?

I was in complete shock to be honest. I couldn’t believe that my name had been read out as a finalist never mind a winner. But it felt amazing and I couldn’t help but have a massive grin on my face walking up onto the stage.

What does winning the Award mean to you?

It means a lot, winning an award so early on in my career within the industry. Coming from a non-medical/scientific background I was very conscious that I would have so much to learn and prove within my first year. Winning this Pf Award has reassured me that I am succeeding and it has served as a real motivator for the future.

How did Ashfield support you in the application process?

Ashfield was a fantastic support and offered a great deal of assistance throughout the application process. Sometimes it can be quite difficult to pick out your successes when you are doing the day job, as you don’t really stop to think about your achievements and the difference that you are making. It was therefore great to be able to chat things through with my manager and identify these successes.

What opportunities does Ashfield offer you?

Ashfield has been fantastic in terms of their support with career progression. I have never worked with an organisation which has been so keen to develop its people. Within my first year I had attended a number of training courses and joined their Future Focus Programme. Part of the Future Focus Programme involved attending a dedicated development day where I participated in various assessments, which ultimately led to the creation of a tailored development plan made in collaboration with my Ashfield manager and the training manager.

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Do you have a mentor?

I wouldn’t say that I have a mentor in the traditional sense. However, I know that if at any point I have any questions or concerns, that I am able to pick up the phone and ask for help. Whether that be from my manager, my previous manager, the training manager or another member of staff, they are always happy to help and offer advice. I also keep in close contact with my colleagues who are working on the same project as me and try to meet up with other Ashfield representatives who work across Scotland.

What attracted you to working in the pharma industry?

I decided to join the industry after building my sales and marketing experience in various other areas such as IT and technology. What really drew me was the opportunity to sell products with a real purpose and the opportunity to help improve people’s lives. For me, that’s what makes this role stand out from other sales-based roles.

What have been your most significant achievements so far?

It would have to be winning the Pf Award, being selected on to the Ashfield Future Focus Programme and of course seeing and hearing how the work I do is impacting and changing patients’ lives for the better.

What advice would you give to a young person thinking about entering the pharma sales industry?

My advice would be, go for it! It is such a rewarding industry to be part of and there is no better feeling than knowing that the work you do is positively impacting people’s lives. What is even better is when you work for an organisation that you are proud to
be part of and who shares your values.

What are your hopes for the future?

I can’t say that I have the future fully mapped out but it will certainly be within the pharmaceutical industry. My short-term ambition is to move into a training role and always continue to develop myself and see what opportunities lie ahead.

This article was originally published in Pharmafield.