Are you afraid of asking your supervisor for approval to travel to Amsterdam to attend the PSI conference?

Do you need convincing arguments for them to approve your travel?

In this episode, we talk about arguments, that help you in your discussion with your supervisor. We’re talking specifically about the PSI conference 2018 in Amsterdam, but these points will very much be applicable for future PSI conferences as well.

You probably don’t want to tell them, that Amsterdam is a very nice city and the social activities will be lots of fun. But here are some arguments, that might help you to get the approval:

  • The conference is highly relevant to statisticians in the pharma industry. There are no ivory tower research sessions with little practical applications. All the topics were selected having statisticians in the pharma industry as the target audience in mind. 3 days packed with specialized content.
  • Many of the sessions will help you to work more effectively in your job with higher quality outcomes. You will learn how other companies solve the same problems that you have.
  • The vast majority of speakers are very experienced presenters, that will enable you to learn much more in shorter time. Lots of work is put especially into the many invited sessions, to compose the different presentations and give you a holistic experience of a session rather than a collection of vaguely related topics.
  • There are a number of workshops during which you can learn hands-on skills to apply directly to your work. E.g. you can participate in a development and coaching session targeted especially for statisticians (not a general one, that any training company offers).
  • During the informal breaks and at the social events in the evening you may meet with your clients (if you work for a CRO) or your vendors (if you work for pharma) and build relationship and trust. This will make current or future collaborations much easier. Alternatively, it may help to build future business relationships.
  • Are you working on regulatory or HTA submissions? Many sessions and workshops will cover hot topics and after attending them, you will be better prepared for your high-impact contributions to these critical submissions for your business. You will also meet some staff from the HTA and regulatory bodies at the conference.
  • Do your business partners don’t understand what estimands are? Do they have a hard time to understand the Bayesian concepts that you’re applying? Learn at the conference to better communicate about these topics from industry leads on these fields. This will help you to be more impactful during critical conversations with your business partners and you can provide examples of how others in the industry are solving problems.
  • #8 Do you have a formal development plan? Put it in there and your supervisors will be happy that there is already something ticked for their HR deliverables. And if this is in-line with your business objectives – even better.
  • The conference is cheap compared to a DIA meeting or any international medical conference. Take further advantage of the early bird discount rate up to the 21st March 2018.
  • You have a poster to be presented at the conference. Ok – this only works, if your supervisors approved the submission of the poster. But it is always something for them to sell upwards, that you’re an active contributor. The poster deadline is the 28th Feb 2018.

Not every reason will work in every situation and with every supervisor. Try to understand, what goals your supervisor has and tailor these arguments towards these goals.

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10 reasons for your supervisor to approve your attendance at the PSI conference


Welcome to the Effective Statistician with Alexander Schacht and Benjamin Pieske, the weekly podcast for statisticians in the health sector designed to improve your leadership skills, widen your business acumen and enhance your efficiency. In today’s episode number three, we’ll talk about 10 reasons for your supervisor to approve your attendance of the PSI conferences here.

This podcast is sponsored by PSI, a global member organization dedicated to leading and promoting best practice and industry initiatives for the decisions. Learn more about upcoming events at

Welcome to another episode of the Effective Statistician with Benjamin Piske and Alexander Schacht. Alexander. Hi, Benjamin. So today we’ll talk about the PSI conference of 2018 and what are reasons you can use to convince your supervisor to approve the travels for that because we know that’s a big topic.

for lots of people until you’re a supervisor yourself and you can very easily kind of see what kind of these reasons are. But I think if you struggle with getting travel approval for this, this is the right episode for you. Actually, it’s not only about traveling because this is only one piece. It’s about also attending the PSI conference. Exactly. So…

Of course, you could just get the travel approved and then go to Amsterdam because it’s a really nice city. There’s lots of nice things to do outside. It will be beginning of June. Pretty likely, really nice weather. You can sit outside in the restaurants and directly next to the water. Really great people there.

It’s a wonderful city. So it’s really worth going to Amsterdam in any case. And especially in June, I think this is one of the best seasons. I’ve been to Amsterdam quite a long time ago, so I’m really excited to go to Amsterdam again. I guess I just remember that it was a beautiful city with lots of life in the streets and everything. So Amsterdam is one of the reasons to go to the PSI conference for sure.

Probably not the one to mention to your supervisor, as well as probably all the social activities around the PSI conference with a really nice gala dinner and Monday evening is also a hugely nice get togethers. These are all really, really nice benefits for the PSI conference, but maybe not best suitable for a discussion with your supervisor. What is actually very irrelevant?

is that this conference is designed especially for statisticians in the pharma industry. So it’s highly relevant for all these people as there’s very, very little to no kind of these ivory tower research sessions where the practical applications are very, very much in the future or actually not relevant to your day-to-day work. All the topics were selected

having statisticians in the pharma industry as the target audience in mind. And it’s from statisticians in the pharma industry for statisticians in the pharma industry. And so all of the three days are really packed with specialized content. Yeah, that makes it so special to go to the PSI because this is, I think, one of the conferences really where you feel that this is thoughtful mixture of topics that are…

aimed to be relevant to not to everyone’s but to most of you daily job. Yeah. And it’s very often what I have the problem says there’s three parallel sessions and I would like to go to all three of them. Whereas at some conferences, you have maybe one session that is relevant for you on Monday morning and another one on Wednesday afternoon. But here it’s really one after the other.

very, very relevant. And these sessions really will kind of help you in doing your daily work more efficiently. So you are getting help, you’re getting support for questions that you may have, where the answers have been already derived and are presented in the conference. So this is really

you will learn how other people or the companies solve problems where you currently are working. Yeah, you can learn from how other companies have solved the exact same problems like you have. So that’s another benefit that you can bring to your supervisor, that you learn from the industry standard and from the industry leaders on the different topics. That’s true.

Number three on our list is actually that the vast majority of the speakers are very experienced presenters and that will help you to learn in much shorter time. And lots of work is actually put by the scientific community into the many invited sessions and making sure that these different presentations really flow into each other.

and give you a holistic experience of the session, rather than just a collection of vaguely related topics, where there might be even lots of overlap or not really kind of a good story of the complete session. But the contributed sessions are really kind of very much designed with carefully selected speakers. And the speakers are not, you know, they’re, as we mentioned earlier, it’s really…

there’s a statistician. So these are people with hands on the work that you do. So it’s not, you know, professors or like some necessarily some people that are theoretically able to prepare and present a topic to you. But no, there’s people that came through to solve the problem following the same question that you might have currently.

The vast majority are really also really good presenters. So it’s not only about the content, but also about the delivery, which is really, really good. Also, number four on our list, there are a number of workshops to your English you can learn really hands-on skills to apply directly to your work. And you can participate in these development and coaching sessions.

and these will be especially targeted for statisticians. So there’s lots of trainings out there on all kinds of different things, but very often they are rather generic. And here we’ll have sessions where it’s exactly for the need of statisticians and it’s in terms of leadership development, it’s for typical problems that statisticians have.

So it will also be about leading without authority and these kinds of things. So it’s not just the kind of usual people management, but also how can you influence, for example, cross-functionally in a study team?

And another point which I think is quite important for, beside all the sessions that you might be attending, there are breaks in between. The breaks are really to be used for any networking. So you see that people, if you work in a CRO, you might be able to finally see people that you’re working for, so your client.

Or if you work in the pharmaceutical company, you might see people from the zeros from your vendor. So, you can really finally see and build a relationship and trust with the people that you are working on a daily basis. Yes. Absolutely. And I think this will actually help to strengthen these relationships and saves actually a lot of time later on.

It’s a fun part as well. It’s beside sessions. Sessions are interesting and might be tricky in a way and difficult to follow at some point, but really, this is something that you will learn. But the breaks and the social events in the evening, this is really something where you can combine the nice and the good and build relationships and networking.

with your colleagues, with the vendor, with the client? Yeah, don’t underestimate the value of the breaks. Absolutely. There’s also some special topics, for example, on regulatory and HTA submissions. So if you work in these kind of areas, you will be better prepared for delivering high impact contributions to these critical submissions. So

We have special sessions on HTA. We have a very, very well-attended meeting or session on the Wednesday afternoon in terms of the regulatory hot topics. And of course, all the other sessions, they will be mentioned about regulatory interactions, HTA submissions as well. So if you’re working on these types of things,

it’s highly relevant for you as well. Yeah, and these are not the only topics, you know, with submission, it’s just really part of the whole PSI conference. But there are other topics that are relevant. We touched some of them before, but for example, I mean, you know, do your business partners have problems understanding what estimates are? Maybe they have a…

difficult time to understand the Bayesian concepts. How do you explain it to them? There’s a chance to learn at the conference to better communicate about these topics from industry leads on this field. You get support and explanations to really communicate difficult topics in a good way.

are really a highly relevant topic and that couldn’t be covered at the last PSI conference because we just didn’t have the update. So this year’s PSI conference about estimates will be truly a big thing. And it will help you. It will help you to be more impactful during critical conversations with business partners and…

I think this is something your manager might understand to give you another reason to attend the PSI conference. Yeah. You learn actually from people directly involved with these kinds of things. You don’t hear it through the grapevine, but directly from the source, so to say. Another reason, reason number eight actually, is something that you shouldn’t underestimate with your supervisor.

Many companies need to develop a formal development plan. And if you have something like this, you can put the PSI conference in there and then make the life of your supervisor easier because he can much easier tick off this box in terms of development. And if someone from HR comes and says, oh, do you have a development plan for your person?

For your people, you can see here’s another line on this development plan. Excellent point. I think this is quite common in every company to have development plans, formal development plans. So this will definitely help you, especially if you have a business objective that is in line with such training or development. Yeah. Number nine is actually about costs. So costs is of course the cost.

of the conference itself, so not just the travel, but the cost of the conference. Given the quality of the conference, I think it’s quite valid to compare it to a conference like the DIA or to larger international medical conferences. If you’ve ever been attended a big oncology meeting, a book, you know, you can go to the

dermatology meeting or any other of these conferences. These are really, really expensive conferences. And compared to that, the PSI conference is actually quite cheap. By the time this goes live, unfortunately, the early bird rate is already gone. But maybe good to remind you for next year to register in time so you can save the early bird.

discount rate. Yeah. It’s difficult to say, but it’s really cheap compared to others. It’s my experience as well with conferences that the other conferences are much more expensive and I don’t think that they have a better value for money. Nothing really has better value for money, I believe, than the PSI conference. Yeah, absolutely. It’s about the value for money. Completely agree.

Last point, hopefully you have actually submitted something to the PSI conference. And I think there’s nothing like such a compelling reason that you are actually an active participant of the conference. So that you can showcase what you and what your company is doing to all your peers. And I think that usually has some kind of halo effect.

So whenever you want to recruit someone in the future, these candidates will also go to these conferences and they see what these companies are doing, that they’re also contributing to the statistical society, to the overall community. I think that makes these companies much more attractive.

If you haven’t submitted a poster, if you haven’t submitted an abstract for our presentation, think about this at least for next year’s conference. Yeah, it’s too late now, but for next year. And also, I mean, we’ve touched the point about having experienced speakers and experienced people, but this is really a chance to get with a poster to really get into the PSI conference, to learn about the PSI conference.

present a poster, even if you’re a junior statistician or not as experienced as others, it’s an excellent point to get a foot into the PSI conference itself and get to know the conference and be present and do the network, especially with your clients or with your vendors when you’re presenting your poster. Do you know how many oral abstracts were submitted to the PSI conference? Too many, I believe.

more than 80. It’s a record number this year. And I think that also speaks to the quality. And of course, that helps the organizing committee to actually select the best abstracts. And that, of course, further increases also the contributed sessions. If you look at lots of other conferences,

they tend to extend their abstract deadline. And I’m not sitting on the conference organizing committees of these other conferences. But my main reason for doing so is you don’t have enough abstracts to kind of fill up your contributed sessions. Here for PSI, it’s actually the other way around. It’s a luxury situation for PSI really to really select only the best ones that are

with the best speakers or the best fitting into the concept of the PSI conference. So that’s great and I think this shows another reason for what we said about the value for money. I think this is really value for money what you see at the PSI conference.

convince your supervisor to approve travel and attendance of the PSI conference in 2018. First, the conference is highly relevant for you as a statistician of the pharma industry. Second, these sessions will help you to work more effectively in your job. Third, the vast majority of the speakers are very experienced presenters. Fourth, there’s a number of workshops for you to have.

to learn hands-on skills. Five, use the informal breaks for networking and learn about the people that you’re working with, either at the CRO or your pharma partners. Six, learn about HTA and regulatory submissions. Seven, understand more about estimates and Bayesian concepts. Eight,

put it on your formal development plan and tick a box there. Ninth, the conference is cheap compared to other high quality conferences and gives you good value for money. Ten, hopefully you have an active part in it. That’s probably the best reason. And with that, we are already at the end of this episode today, a little bit shorter than the other ones, but I think 20 minutes is a…

really good time to fit into your commute. Okay, thanks and talk to you next time. Bye. We thank PSI for sponsoring this show. Thanks for listening. Please visit thee to find the show notes and learn more about our podcast to boost your career as a statistician in the health sector. If you enjoyed the show, please tell your colleagues about it.

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