As a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Algeria, Amira Zerrouki got some experience in the industry working for Sanofi in Algeria, where she is from. After that, she decided to further her studies and came to Barcelona in 2020 to start the International Master in Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology Management. During her stay in Barcelona she worked as an intern at Biocartis, another company in the industry developing medical devices. Once she finished her master she went back to Algeria and started applying her knowledge obtained in the master as Medical Digital Lead at Sanofi.
We caught up to know more about her experience during the master and her career path after graduating.
Tell us about your current job position at Sanofi? What are your daily responsibilities as a Medical Digital Lead?
As Medical Digital Lead, my main role is to support the Medical Affairs team in the completion of digital projects to implement Sanofi’s Global Strategy. Another key duty is to put Key Opinion Leaders Omnichannel Engagement in the centre of every activity we initiate with Medical Affairs. Moreover, my department is under G x P requirements, so I also have to ensure that all the activities under my scope are compliant to Sanofi’s procedures. My position is quite multifunctional and this is what I like the most about it.
What attracted you to the position/company? How did you find out about this professional opportunity?
I found the offer on LinkedIn, and it was a Fixed Term one. I was curious about it as I never thought of working in the Medical Affairs department before this offer came out to me. I was more into Marketing, but I was aware that digital transformation is changing the pharmaceutical industry and I had always been attracted by digital health functions because when we discovered it in digital health class, I was surprised to see how multifunctional they are and how Strategic Planning is in the centre of their scope, and to me it was important as I was actually attracted to Marketing because of its Strategic implication, I have always searched for a job in which I can plan, organize, and feel that I am participating to make a difference.
So, through this Job, I wanted to further learn about Medical Affairs, and what their role is in the industry, and about digital/omnichannel functions and how they contribute to the business, and of course all of this while developing my capabilities within this scope, as, in my opinion, those capabilities : omnichannel, digital.. are the future and we are lucky to live the pharma industry digital transformation journey, it is a big opportunity for us as young graduates to embrace this change and apport our contribution, our skills, and have the chance to be the digital capabilities references of tomorrow.
As soon as I read the Job Description, I directly applied. Moreover, Sanofi is a company that I knew pretty well.
What is the most challenging part of your current position? And the most rewarding?
My every challenge is to be adaptive. To adapt to changes, to find the right solution for the right problem at the right time. It can go from learning from scratch how to master Microsoft Power BI to adapting to all the procedures and regulations we have in the pharma companies. Agility, change management, and growth mindset are definitely key in facing the day to day challenges. and it is also what I like about my job. It is so dynamic that I don’t have time to be bored.
The most rewarding side of my job is actually the consequence of it being challenging, it is to face and address challenges. It forces me to keep learning, to keep developing my skills, and to feel that I am constantly growing, which is true.
If you are interested in a position like Amira's: "you have to be agile, adaptive, curious, creative, to have a strategic thinking, anticipation and of course, teamwork is key as it is a cross functional function."
Regarding your pharmaceutical background, what made you decide to pursue the International Master in Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology Management at EADA?
I knew in my 4th year of pharma graduation that I wanted to pursue a career in the pharmaceutical industry. And as I love to master all the aspects of something in general before doing it, to do it perfectly, I knew that I had to learn business. Being a pharmacist gives me the ability to understand drugs perfectly, the industry dynamic overall, but not business! in pharma school they don’t teach finance or marketing, or the skills I was interested to develop as Regulatory Affairs and Market Access, so from there I knew I had to get a management masters specialized in Pharma to close the loop. Of course, this reflection came after a lot of research and conversations with people working in the industry.
In conclusion, for me it was as logical as that : you want to work in regulatory affairs, you need to do a masters for it, market access? you need a masters too, marketing? you need it too… so, what kind of master will cover all of those ? and I started searching and I found the right one for me! I wanted to discover and learn about every single function in the industry, to know what I wanted to do, I wanted also to get leadership classes to be a manager one day. For me, getting this master was an opportunity to learn, grow, and anticipate skills that I know I will need in my career.
What aspects of the International Master in Pharmaceutical & Biotechnology Management would you highlight? How did the programme prepare you for your current position?
I would say the fact that it really covers all the thematics that you need to thrive while working in the pharmaceutical industry while using the case study methodology that prepares you for real situations. Also, the leadership development program in Collbató helps a lot, not only to understand yourself more, your strengths and weaknesses, but also to develop the mindset you need to keep growing and knowing how to adapt to change and give your best in all situations.
What is the biggest takeaway from your experience at EADA and Barcelona?
Honestly, I can’t summarize this experience in takeaways. For me, it changes everything. it changed my vision, my perception of the world and of this industry. It is really more than a master in which you will develop skills. Of course we did it perfectly, but it was also getting to know myself more while living in a foreign country. All the bonds that we make with people from other cultures, the friendships, the skills developed, souvenirs and experiences in Collbató and much more than I can simply tell! but if I have to choose words, I would say: DISCOVERY, of myself first, for instance, my ability to adapt to change! It was a pure surprise! Another word would be: GROWTH, I have truly and deeply grown. And if I had a chance to do it again, in the same school, in the same city, I would do it without thinking about it!