CHASE Graduate Academy: Diving into the pharma graduates talent pool

Graham Hawthorn, Managing Director and Kate O’Neill, Graduate Recruitment Lead discuss CHASE’s support of the pharma graduates talent pool.

With over 2 million students studying at more than 130 UK Universities, the graduate talent pool is not one to be overlooked. At CHASE, we’ve been running a dedicated Graduate Academy for almost 20 years, supplying talented graduates, on contract, to our pharmaceutical and healthcare clients and watching proudly as they rise through the industry ranks.

During 2018, our graduates have secured roles in marketing, medical communications, customer service and pharmacy sales, as well as fuelling, within the pharmaceutical sector, the resurgence of the primary care sales representative.

Fuelling growth across primary care

We work with many leading pharmaceutical companies, and as a result quickly see changes impacting the front line. In the past 12 months, we have seen a significant rise in demand for primary care representatives, driven primarily by new respiratory products coming to the UK market.

This took many by surprise, however at CHASE our graduate team saw this as a fantastic opportunity to place high calibre graduates into the industry. As a result, it is therefore no surprise that in 2018, we have placed more graduates into primary care representative roles than in any other year.

With so many new contract pharmaceutical sales representatives being hired from this emerging talent pool, it is great news for the whole industry as it results in an injection of energy, enthusiasm and fresh mindsets.

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Making a mark in marketing

Yet graduates are not just fuelling the primary care resurgence; we see them grow and flourish in other positions too. For example, over the past 12 months, we’ve introduced graduates into exciting entry level marketing roles.

These clients have specifically targeted our graduate talent pool as they were keen to inject a new dynamic into their marketing teams. Across the sector, and across functions, our clients have seen the positive impact of offering contract positions to highly motivated and driven graduates.

The CHASE advantage

Over the past two decades, our Graduate Team has forged close relationships with many of the UK’s leading universities. These universities can see that we add real value and help students begin a career with leading pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. They love the fact we have a ‘Graduate Academy’; offer coaching sessions, industry advice and knowledge; and provide helpful resources and expertise.

We invest our time not only in the immediately outstanding candidates, but also the people we see raw potential in – people we know we can help and support to achieve their goals. We help them unlock their potential. We take huge satisfaction from seeing these candidates secure new careers and achieve success.

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High calibre people with passion

Through the CHASE Graduate Academy, we have created a constant pipeline of engaged graduates with the right education, insights, and attitude to be successful in the pharmaceutical industry.

Many of our graduates originate from a science background, however not exclusively. For example, we regularly place graduates with business, marketing and law degrees. Additionally, we work with many high calibre candidates with PGCE or teaching qualifications.

What they have in common is a passion to get into the industry and the drive, determination and persistence to be successful. We work hard with them to make sure they are fully prepared.

Not all the graduates we work with have just finished university. We also target candidates a few years post-graduation who have worked within an alternate industry. These candidates bring a different perspective, more life experience and in many cases a well-tuned commercial awareness, as they will often have worked in customer facing sales, marketing or communications roles.

Pharma graduates are here to stay

Over the past five years, we have witnessed a sustained year-on-year increase in the number of quality commercial graduates entering the industry. Over the past 18 months alone, our Academy has placed, on CHASE contract, over 100 graduates into commercial roles with pharmaceutical and healthcare clients.

It is evident that graduates are becoming increasingly important both in terms of delivering day-to-day results, but also providing a future leader talent pipeline. The quality of graduates applying has never been higher and we are privileged to have a front row seat. We are confident that our industry is in good hands.

CHASE pharma graduates


Amy graduated with a 2:1 in her Medical Science degree. She undertook a placement year within the industry, and had studied at the University of Birmingham. Amy is now working on a CHASE contract in a primary care sales role with one of our major clients.

Lorna and Jacob

Working on CHASE contracts, both Lorna and Jacob have been successful recently in securing entry level graduate marketing roles with blue-chip clients. Lorna has a 1st class Business Studies degree and completed a 12-month marketing placement with a leading pharma company, and Jacob, who graduated with a 2:1 in Marketing had also completed a placement year working as a marketing consultant within
the finance sector.

This article was originally published in Pharmafield.