Earn Your Sponsor – Women in Pharma Series

Participants gathered for the Women in Pharma breakfast on day 2 of the 2017 ISPE/FDA/PQRI Quality Manufacturing Conference, held June 5–7, 2017. Women in Pharma Chair, Fran Zipp, President and CEO, Lachman Consultants and ISPE Board member, welcomed the audience of more than 100 attendees for a panel on “Bringing Education to Gender Parity.” There were such powerful exchanges of knowledge and experience during this breakout session that we felt it was beneficial to share. This fourth installment of the12-month series on giving back builds on last month’s blog about mentoring with a glimpse into why sponsors are vital to your career growth.

Earn Your Sponsor
Last month, we learned that mentors are the sounding boards to new idea, the encouragement to keep you going, and role models to emulate. Nobody will debate that mentors are beneficial to your technical repertoire; however, one thing that stuck with me from the Women in Pharma breakout session on “Why Mentors are Important,” was that everyone agreed you should have mentors, but what you need is a sponsor. 

Mentors will see an opportunity and give you advice, tools, and feedback on how to make the most out of it—they are your guides. Sponsors will see an opportunity and they will nominate you and stand up on your behalf—they are your champions. Sponsors sound invaluable, right? How do you go about getting a sponsor? Easy, sponsors are earned—not appointed, and if you happen to be consistently exceeding expectations, chances are, a sponsor already has their eye on you.

Many high-level decisions (that may, or may not impact your future) happen behind closed doors to which you don’t have the keys. That’s why you need sponsors. They are the first ones to throw your name in the hat when a suitable opportunity arises and the first ones to nominate you for something—anything! Many times, you may never know who your sponsors are (or were). They act on your behalf, providing frontline defense against critics and naysayers, and sell you for promotions and opportunities. No, they are not committing random acts of kindness; they are continually watching your performance, whether it be from the sidelines or deep in the trenches, and they are confident in the work that you do. If this isn’t a humble reminder to work like nobody is watching, or better yet, work like everybody is watching, I don’t know what is!

In today’s world, earning a sponsorship may seem like an uphill battle, because, well, the higher up you go, the pool of sponsors gets smaller and smaller. And a sponsor is not about to put their reputation on the line for someone they “think” can get the job done. They are waiting to reap the benefits of over-performers who consistently go above and beyond and make them look good. Sponsors will go to bat for you, if and only if, they know they can depend on you. 

Studies show that sponsorship (not mentorship) makes a quantifiable difference in career growth. Bottom line is the best way to give yourself better odds of acquiring a sponsor, and in turn, paving your way to success, is to work hard, day in and day out. Michael Jordan once said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” To any sponsor, future sponsor, and protege—now’s your chance, make it happen!

By: Alayna Russell
Biotech + Pharma Market Manager


Register for the ISPE 2017 Annual Meeting & Expo to connect with the Women in Pharma (WIP) community at these WIP activities:

  • Sunday, 29 October 1300–1400 | Featured Session Women in Pharma: Career Strategies for Early Career Professionals
  • Sunday, 29 October 1415–1515 | Own Who You Are: Women in Pharma
  • Tuesday, 31 October 1045–1215 | “Don’t Let it Out!” A Practical Approach to Containment in Sterile Manufacturing Facilities

Support Women in Pharma and Get Involved! Stop by the ISPE Booth in the Expo Hall to learn more about the ISPE Women in Pharma Community. Donations of $5 or more will receive an exclusive Women in Pharma pin. Every dollar will be contributed to a scholarship fund supporting future opportunities for women in the industry.