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European Pharmaceutical Contractor

An Inside Look

EPC: What was your entry point into the pharmaceutical industry?

My career started in data management in Dublin. Following the completion of my Biotechnology degree from Dublin City University, I felt a drive towards business and finding a commercial application to my education, but was unsure of which areas to explore. A fortuitous meeting between my mother (a school headmistress) and one of her studentsí parents (an HR manager) led to my application to Quintiles and entry into the industry. I am still thanking them both for that, as over time I realised what a great opportunity it presented.

Which part of your current role do you most enjoy?

I value the responsibility of being in a leadership position. There is a simplicity that goes with knowing that, ultimately, a decision rests with you, and understanding that responsibility is important. I value the trust given to me by ICONís board and executive team (DOCS is a division of ICON), and the empowerment that comes with that. Having that level of responsibility sometimes means you have to take the rough with the smooth, but personally I find that energising.

Which part is the most challenging?

We have significant growth plans in DOCS, which means we are investing heavily in the business. At the same time, we need to stay focused on managing the day-to-day business. Finding a balance is often challenging.

How would you describe your business philosophy?

I have always believed that if you do the right things in the right way, the rewards will follow. Clients and staff appreciate a straightforward approach and usually understand decisions made in the context of doing things in the correct manner. Sometimes other business pressures can distract from that philosophy. However I believe in focusing on what is right for the business and its people.

What has been your proudest moment?

There have been many highlights associated with working and travelling abroad. I have enjoyed and learnt a lot about myself, not to mention the industry, and met some interesting and inspiring people. Probably the most intense and rewarding experience was working with colleagues in Asia Pacific, whose determination and ambition is always energising. I am also very proud of the progress DOCS has made and the growth we have seen in recent years.

And your greatest disappointment?

I try not to let myself get disappointed. Things happen for a reason and generally work out the way they should do. I have been lucky enough to be part of successful teams and a successful business, so when things havenít worked out, those outcomes have been insignifi cant relative to the overall positives.

What does the pharma sector need to focus on in 2013?

People. There has been a lot of change as organisations adapt to a shifting focus. Cost competitiveness is paramount. Technology is beginning to change peopleís roles. The pharma sector has increasing focus on value for money and maximising return. The successful companies will be those who best manage their resource and find resourcing solutions that reward staff while maximising return on investment.

How do you think the pharmaceutical industry as a whole will change over the next 10 years?

Technology will continue to drive effi ciency and provide intelligent information to study teams. There is an enticing promise of personalised medicine moving forward over the next decade which may lead to a reduction in the size of studies, but also a compensating increase in the number of compounds being pursued. And, as the pharma sector looks for more value from its service providers, it will seek partners who can offer a multitude of service options and outsourcing strategies.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt?

Commit to the vision. If you have a vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, then stay focused on it. There will be challenges along the way, but if you commit fully, you will get there.

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Colin Stanley is President of DOCS. He has over 14 years of experience working in the CRO industry. Colin joined ICON in 2001 and has spent the last ten years in a number of leadership positions in the US, Europe and Asia-Pacific.
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