Today, I am excited to share profound insights where I delve deep into the art of sketching my career path and crafting a strategic plan for success.
I find myself in a quaint hotel room in the UK, surrounded by the historical charm of my surroundings, and recording in this unique setting. Here, I am reminded of the pivotal role of data visualization in my career. Accompanying a sales representative to meetings with psychiatrists, I witness the power of impactful data visualization. The ability to convey complex information swiftly becomes apparent, sparking my fascination with the world of data visualization.
One key lesson from my career that resonates with me very much is the importance of thinking big and setting long-term goals. Instead of confining my aspirations to immediate achievements, I embrace the idea of envisioning a grander future. By aiming high and identifying long-term objectives, I find the motivation to channel my efforts toward meaningful pursuits, propelling me forward in my career.
This provides me with the courage to get out of my comfort zone.
Listen to this episode to understand how you can craft a strategic plan consisting of three fundamental pillars:
1. Investing in Personal Marketing
2. Building Technical Expertise
3. Developing Leadership Skills
As I reflect on this transformative episode, I encourage each of you to embark on your unique career journey with purpose and confidence. By setting clear goals, devising a thoughtful strategy, and embracing positive habits, you can shape your professional destiny.
Remember, your career success begins with a vision and a strategic plan. So, let’s sketch our paths and create a future filled with endless possibilities!
Share this with your friends and colleagues who might learn from this!
Sketching Your Career and Creating a Strategy
Alexander: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of The Effective Statistician. Today, the sound might be a little bit different because I’m recording this from a hotel room in the UK. And this is a very, very old hotel, kind of in the middle of nowhere in the south of the UK. And I’m here because I’m giving a presentation to you guys.
I’m giving a workshop tomorrow about data visualization. And as it turned out, data visualization has become a really, really important thing for me. Over the years, I’ve learned that Data visualization is much more than a nice picture or something that you do as a last minute thing. It is something that is incredibly important.
I [00:01:00] learned about this because I was working a lot in the medical affairs space, and early in my career, I spent the day with a sales rep. At the time, I was working in the German affiliate, and the new general manager for the German affiliate really said kind of, everybody that works not within the sales area needs to spend a day with the sales rep to really understand what’s going on in the business.
And by the way, if you’re working in the healthcare industry, I highly encourage you to do this as well, because you will learn a lot about what it is in terms of the industry, what, you know, it’s really, really important and impactful thing. Okay, so I spent this day with a sales rep in the middle of Munich and we were visiting [00:02:00] various different psychiatrists because that was a big thing at the time at the company I was working for.
One of the key takeaways that I had from this day with the sales rep was the importance of getting your data across really, really fast. So this sales rep sometimes would have just 30 seconds, a minute, maybe two minutes with a physician to get a message across. And he always had great data visualizations at hand.
So these data visualizations were pretty much always done by some kind of external marketing company, some kind of companies that helped the Lily guys to get something from their posters, their presentations, their papers into actionable, you know, actionably [00:03:00] in a state that you can show it to customers.
And so that really helped the sales reps to get the specific message across to their audience. These were really, really good graphics. And I felt like, oh my god, the graphics that I’m using and that I’m producing, horrible compared to this. There was just one graphic that actually came from my desk that made it into the final slide set that they were using, and at the time they were actually not using slides but paper folders, so from that you can probably tell how old I am.
And the, that was a Kaplan Meier curve, a time to event analysis, because they obviously couldn’t replicate that easily. With their tools at the time. Data visualization played then a huge role along my career [00:04:00] thereafter. I spent a lot of time more learning about it, getting better at it, fine tuning things, all these kind of different things.
And what has that to do with The topic of today, sketching your career. I think the first lesson from this is you need to understand what is really important in your area. What are the things that. really make a difference and where you also have a passion for, where you can increase your expertise. At the time, you know, I didn’t have, you know, more knowledge about data visualizations and all the other statisticians, data scientists, and so on that were coming from university, literally nothing.
Yeah, but I spend a lot of time learning about it, getting better at it. And so by that you can become someone that is really, really outstanding. If [00:05:00] you want to get better and better. One of the key things is that you need to have this kind of long-term vision. Where do you want to get to? I first played it far too small.
I just wanted to be. A team leader with some kind of theoretical expertise that is not a long-term vision. That is, you know, a step in between. That is kind of a goals that you can have within, don’t know, three years if you’re not yet already a team leader. If you’re a team leader, maybe your next step is something different.
But hey, don’t play small, play big, have much bigger goals. What do you really want to change? How do you want to remember in this industry what? is really important. And so think about what is your long term vision? What is something that if you look at it sounds really, [00:06:00] really crazy motivating and inspiring to you?
How do you want to serve in the future? What kind of changes do you want to drive forward? What kind of results do you want to deliver? What kind of people do you interact with? What is usual day for you looking like. Think about all these different things. With that, you can create something like a long term vision.
And don’t think in terms of set like, you know, like goals. Think more in terms of pictures. Where do you want to be? And then, of course, you need to devise a strategy, and I’ll actually talk much more about strategy in some of the upcoming podcast episodes. A strategy consists of really understanding where you want to be.
Get to where you are now and how you can close that gap. What are key [00:07:00] areas that you need to invest in? And here’s a couple of different areas that I want to talk about. The first thing that you definitely need to invest in is your own marketing. How do you get to know about stuff? How do people recognize you?
How do people get to know you, get to like you, get to trust you? Because that is the ultimate goal of a good marketing strategy, to make sure people No lie can trust you. This can involve lots of lots of different kind of things. For me, one of the key things was to start a podcast. For others, it is to regularly post on LinkedIn.
Yet for others, it is to publish one paper after the other. For another, it could be to work very, very actively in a [00:08:00] certain association. For yet another, it could be that you run some kind of internal stuff, yeah? If you I’ve recently had Guillaume Desachy on the podcast, and we were talking about how he ran the internal R community. These things can help you to market yourself. So in marketing, the goal is to get a really good know, like, and trust factor. The second pillar of a strategy is likely building your expertise, building your skills. And here are a couple of different areas that you surely need to get good into. One could be, for example, you really get very, very good in a certain technical area, like adaptive designs or like [00:09:00] multiplicity or like I’ve chosen data visualization or network meta-analysis or estimands or any of these kind of, you know, topics. There’s hundreds of them. These technical skills surely will be important.
There’s another side to technical skills that you can also become really, really good at, and that is, for example, a specific therapeutic area. Are you the go to guy for neuroscience? For immunology? For certain oncology indications? For certain rare diseases? Whatsoever, yeah, or maybe for, for safety, or for a specific safety area, whatsoever.
Make sure that you choose something where you have a passion for and where there is a need within the business. Where there is a need, best [00:10:00] actually, not just in your company, but across the industry. And then build these skills. Get into a special interest group. If there is. Not a special interest group in the association that you’re in, not at PSI or ASA or FSPI or, you know, whatever. Then create one. I created one for the launch and lifecycle area because there wasn’t anything like this. I created one for data visualization because there wasn’t anything like this. It’s not that hard. You just need to find two, three other people that really want to do something together with you. Create a charter, what you want to achieve, how you want to achieve it, and then get going.
Technical skills in terms of knowing your business, knowing your therapeutic area, knowing your stats, of course, is important. And it is [00:11:00] also really important to invest in your people skills, the soft skills, the human skills. I very often talk about them as leadership skills, because it’s about leading others, even if they don’t report to you.
The typical things that I very, very often talk about is convincing others within your study team, within your project team, within your department, within your company, to move forward with a new technique, or to improve a process, or to stop a stupid study whatsoever. Here, you need to have influencing skills.
And by the way the Effective Statistician Leadership Program, which trains you exactly these leadership skills, these influencing skills, is still open for enrollment, but only for a few days until the [00:12:00] 14th of November of 2023. And as this episode goes live, there’s only a couple of days left. If you miss it, Don’t worry, you can still get into it.
It’s just a little bit more complex because you need to contact either Gary Sullivan or myself and then we can have a discussion how we can make that happen for you together with your team, with your colleagues. Within your area, yeah, maybe you just want to run an event within the areas that you’re living in Paris or in Chicago or in New Jersey or in Spain or in Germany or in the UK, contact us and we can see how we can get ,something together. We do these kind of one off courses all the time. Of course it’s much better to kind of do them over a longer period of time. [00:13:00] I have a kind of a favor for that because then you can absorb much more things over time than having a lot of stuff learned in a short period.
But better invest in these skills because they will really make a difference. I haven’t seen any really successful statisticians that does not have good leadership skills. So invest in these. Of course, you also need to have an eye on your excellence area. You like everybody else has only a limited time and within this time, you need to achieve.
The biggest things, of course, achieving more leadership skills really, really help because there you will understand what is more important, what is less important, how you can get others to help you, how you can get others to [00:14:00] support you, how you can stop things that you shouldn’t be working on. All these kinds of different things, leadership skills help you.
But of course, doing things. Write it the first time makes a huge difference because then you don’t need to correct them later on and they don’t haunt you for years. So, take actions, devise a strategy, start with a long term vision. Think about how you can promote yourself. Think about how you can build expertise and improve your non technical skills.
I really encourage you to look into the Effective Statistician Leadership Program. But if that is not an option for you, then go for whatever is provided within your company or organization or your local area. Please take action. Taking action and creating this long term vision is one thing. The other [00:15:00] thing that really will help you to bring to this vision are habits.
Habits are things that help us get things done easier. Yeah, if you think about your habit of Yeah, cleaning up, your habit of washing yourself in the morning, the habit, all these kind of different habits, yeah, they don’t require a lot of thoughts, yeah, the habit of how you drive, how you drive to work, these kind of things, they don’t take a lot of energy from you. They don’t take a lot of time from you. And you won’t. To create habits that help you achieve your goals really, really well. One of these habits is, for example, every morning looking into what are your goals? How will you achieve them today? How [00:16:00] will you get closer to them today?
What are the three most important things that you need to accomplish today to move closer to your goals? Establish habits around meetings, around emails, around social media, all these kind of different things, so that they work for you. In favor of you and not against you.
So, as a summary, really, really invest in where you want to get to, because if you don’t know where you want to get to, someone else will determine it. Or you will just, you know, move in one direction this week, in another direction the other week, and you’ll never end up anywhere meaningful. You need to set a goal and make a decision where you want to get to. Of course, over time things will change. That’s okay. But it’s better to change them consciously [00:17:00] rather than to be changed and moved around without even noticing it. Have a look into what is your strategy and if you want to invest in your leadership skills, check out the Effective Statistician Leadership Program.
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