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Development and Training

What's expected from Project Managers in our sector?

In medium sized Pharma, Platform, Device companies

An interview with Raffaella Mangano, PIPMG Committee member.

How did you get into project management?

I started as a scientist beginning in a start-up company leading a cell biology team then I moved into project leadership. A mix of my experience in science and having some people skills got me into the role. I learned the project management operational skills on the job.  I have now moved to work in project management at Cancer Research UK Centre for Drug Development.

In a mid-size company situation what are the key aspects of the project manager role?

Working with a reasonably large portfolio compared to a start-up company. Coordinating activities right from preclinical all the way through to completion of Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials. Working with science, legal, contracts, planning, budget – a wide skill set.

No ‘project manager / project leader’ split as there is in a large Pharma company. Working with multiple projects each project leader may support three projects simultaneously. In my role there is a reasonably systematic process for portfolio review, reporting and support for decisions. Plus work on some outsourced services – CROs for toxicology, manufacturing and so on.

What are the typical challenges for project management in this role and what strengths are needed?

As in a larger company we have a matrix system involving managing without direct authority and managing stakeholders. You have to work at building individual relationships – often the boundaries are not quite clear. A degree of gravitas and confidence is required to make an impact. It is quite a diverse skill set – nobody has it to start with!

Many medium-size companies do require people to complete a qualification such as Prince 2, which our PLs have. But it just provides a common background and framework rather than applying Prince 2 to the letter.

To what extent does this type of role prepare you to move to a larger company situation?

To a great extent! People in my sort of role may well move to a larger company or a small / biotech firm.

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