September / October 2021

Emerging Leaders Editorial: Planning for Future Meetings - Face to Face or Virtual

John Clarke
Emerging Leaders Editorial: Planning for Future Meetings - Face to Face or Virtual

Excitement for restarting face-to-face conferences is building and as plans at local and international levels are in progress, we continue to enjoy the benefits of remote interactions. Innovation and collaboration achieved through fully virtual conferences and seminars in the past year and a half show us that both have great benefits.

Some of my most memorable experiences with ISPE have been attending events held by the ISPE Ireland Affiliate. Local events were my introduction to ISPE and the workings of the Ireland Affiliate. Emerging Leaders (EL) events were a great way to meet peers working in manufacturing companies and service providers around Ireland and share experiences. The more active I became in organizing and attending these events, the more value I received. The wide range of events offered by ISPE means there is always opportunity to further specialize in a topic or learn something new.

Getting Started

For students, recent graduates, and Emerging Leaders, conferences give you a chance to make your way in the pharmaceutical industry. Attending informative talks by subject matter experts, visiting exhibitor halls, and socializing with other attendees provide experiences that develop your knowledge of the different disciplines and functions that contribute to a global supply chain of life-changing medicines. The people you meet and interact with have the potential to inform you on topics you may not be familiar with or guide your decision-making. As innovative modalities continue to be established, conferences provide an opportunity to stay at the cutting edge of what is possible in your career. Transformative changes are inevitable in the pharmaceutical industry and building a network with ISPE is a great way to get informed about the next manufacturing platform or regulatory expectation.

For Emerging Leaders, ISPE meetings provide an opportunity to be in the room (virtual or face to face) with industry thought leaders and technical experts. Questions and conversations at conferences transcend geographies, disciplines, and job titles. They also bring Emerging Leaders together to socialize and network, building relationships that will remain with them throughout their careers. While virtual formats have removed challenges for Emerging Leaders to attend conferences and seminars, they offer a variation on the networking and collaboration that can be achieved in an in-person setting.

Historically, seminars and conferences have been opportunities to think out loud and discuss ideas. Their value in the pharmaceutical industry has always been in bringing manufacturing companies, regulators, researchers, and service providers together to discuss, speculate, innovate, and experiment in an informal setting. Ideas can be teased out through discussion, questions, and conversation, without needing to commit them to writing or publication. Fully digital conference platforms change this dynamic. While the informality of a face-to-face interaction or workshop can be difficult to replicate, digital conference platforms can ensure informal interactions take place.

Hybrid Options

Hybrid events have the potential to fulfill the benefits of virtual and in-person events. Roadblocks that previously restricted attendance of Emerging Leaders such as travel costs have been removed through the virtual format. Innovative technical content can be enjoyed remotely and in your own time. For those who can attend in person, the benefits of a face-to-face interaction await. As ISPE has an amazing lineup of hybrid ISPE conferences planned for the end of 2021, I am looking forward to catching up with people in a new hybrid way.

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