January / February 2021

Message from the Chair: WIP - A Key Part of ISPE Professional Career Development

Joanne R. Barrick, RPh
Message from the Chair

I was a skeptic. When the Women in Pharma® (WIP) program started in 2016, I had previously attended several other professional women’s programs and usually left disappointed, as these programs did not provide the information I was seeking. The ISPE Women in Pharma® program is different. The program has an energy and enthusiasm rarely seen in professional groups, as evidenced by the “buzz” at every event and numerous follow-up hallway conversations.

I continue to be astounded (at least up to the time when we had to halt face-to-face meetings) by seeing about 100 to 125 women and men attending the Women in Pharma® breakfast sessions at most major ISPE conferences. The enthusiasm for the program has also spread to our Chapters and Affiliates with many programs such as the ISPE Brazil Affiliates’s support of the homeless impacted by COVID-19 (with backing from the ISPE Foundation), the ISPE UK Affiliates Women in Pharma®’s new webinar series, and numerous other examples cited in Alice Redmond’s Women in Pharma® editorial, “A Year of Mentoring, Education, and Collaboration” in the November-December 2020 issue of Pharmaceutical Engineering®. Women in Pharma® has expanded its Mentor Circle program, exceeding its goal of 20 Mentor Circles in 2020, and there are more than 1,700 Women in Pharma® Community of Practice members. But why? What is the reason for this dramatic success?

My hypothesis is that the world has changed so much, with so much availability and emphasis on technical information, that we have lost focus on career development, leadership, and soft skills. Professionals are now very hungry for this information. Women in Pharma® provides an opportunity to hear career success stories, which sometimes include how the speakers overcame significant obstacles and beat the odds to achieve great success. In many cases, Women in Pharma® program sessions provide valuable fundamentals that can be immediately applied to assist in career progression and success, as well as a forum to discuss application of these fundamentals and exchange learnings. Women in Pharma® provides connections, and, as Co-chair Vivianne Arencibia says, “sometimes Women in Pharma® just provides a place to bounce ideas.”

More ISPE Development Opportunities ISPE

provides additional opportunities to develop leadership skills. As leader of the ISPE Process Validation Team for many years, I had the opportunity to convince numerous emerging leaders and early career professionals to participate in and lead some of our conference sessions and publication efforts. One such individual co-led the effort to develop an ISPE process validation life-cycle implementation discussion paper. He contacted me sometime later to thank me because he received a significant promotion, and attributed the opportunity to the confidence he gained in leading the writing team, interacting with industry leaders, and being aware of industry issues, as being significant factors in preparing him for his new role.

I urge you to assist in raising student and early career professional awareness of the opportunities and career satisfaction that await in the pharma industry.

Workforce of the Future

The world is watching our industry, maybe like never before. I am so proud of how we have responded. With new technologies, innovation, and acceleration of bioproduct development and manufacturing, there may never be a more important time to attract students with an aptitude for engineering and bioscience to pharma. We are making exciting and unprecedented progress in addressing previously untreatable diseases.

I urge you to assist in raising student and early career professional awareness of the opportunities and career satisfaction that await in the pharma industry. Involvement in ISPE can introduce the many facets of the pharma industry and shepherd professionals through all phases of their careers, enabling a greater level of success at a faster pace. The Women in Pharma® program is a great introduction as there are many small groups where initial participation and questions may feel safer, plus all the benefits of the larger ISPE organization.

While our virtual world and working from home have so many drawbacks, information may be more accessible than ever. Traveling to a conference has some benefits that cannot be replicated online, but virtual participation in conferences offers tremendous opportunity to interest students and emerging career leaders for a very small investment. Our work is exciting and fast-paced and an opportunity to truly improve life for humankind. Please consider giving back by “passing on” our work and our passion.