My student experience
Jane M Bainbridge
"I do believe work experience is invaluable - I learnt about work and life and it was helpful to know in which direction I didn't want to go."
Jane graduated with a BSc Biochemistry and MSc Toxicology in 1986. She is now Vice president at Celgene Corporation, a global biopharmaceutical company, in New Jersey, USA.
During her 20 years' experience in the field of pharmaceutical business administration, Jane has worked in Europe, Australia and the United States, and has held positions at both local affiliate, corporate headquarters and research and development sites. In her current position, she is responsible for leading and managing Celgene's Global Regulatory Operations, Compliance and Training group.
Why did you choose to study biochemistry?
I knew I wanted to do something in science, and biology was one of my strengths and the course sounded interesting.
Where did you spend your Professional Training year?
I had two placements for six months' each. One in the forensics department at the Metropolitan Police and the other at Smith, Kline & French, as it was then. Working for the police was exciting as I was in London, which was a real eye-opener for me as a country girl. I worked in the lab at both places - for the police doing tests around some of the cases they were working on and at Smith, Kline & French doing basic project work. I learned from both placements that lab work wasn't for me - it's too repetitive! However, I do believe work experience is invaluable - I learnt about work and life and it was helpful to know in which direction I didn't want to go.
How has what you learnt at Surrey helped in your career?
Having a science degree is of course invaluable working in the pharmaceutical industry, as even though I don't use my science in a lab, I do understand what is going on in the business.
How did you come to work in America?
I started my career in in pharmaceuticals in the UK and after four years my husband and I decided to emigrate to Australia, where I joined Phamacia. They subsequently moved me to Stockholm and then to the US. We've been here for over 13 years. It is a good country to live in and we're happy.
What has been your career highlight?
Not to sound trite, but your career is a journey and each stage has its highs. What I may have wanted when I was young out of university is different to what excites me now. As you get older different things contribute to career satisfaction. I enjoy mentoring and coaching younger colleagues. The opportunity to move around with Pharmacia was fantastic and showed me that you have to be open to new things.
What advice would you give to students?
The main thing is don't restrict yourself and be willing to take chances. I don't mean be foolhardy but give things a try, don't be risk-adverse. It's hard to know where you career is going to lead you - it's a rare person who at the age of 21 says, 'I'm going to be X'. As you mature, you adapt and broaden horizons and you may be surprised where you end up, in a good way.
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