Royal Pharmaceutical Society

My career move: community to industry

By Femi Omotade

Pharmacist and Regulatory Affairs Executive at a pharmaceutical company

I have been in industry for eighteen months and it is completely different from community pharmacy.

I don’t think university really prepares you for the change, and having to learn so much. I’m a people person, so the first few weeks when I moved into industry were hard to adjust to – not seeing familiar faces every day. but you still mix with people, even if it’s on the phone, or with colleagues, rather than face-to-face with patients. Most of my team have worked in community or hospital pharmacy, and that’s what I like about the profession: you are not limited to just those two options, there are so many roles and career paths out there for pharmacists. You get to specialise in certain areas, instead of having to use the broad clinical knowledge needed as a community or hospital pharmacist. I’m currently working on GI, including heartburn and cardiovascular disease, and so it can be very specific to one clinical area.

Why did I go into industry?

I was always interested in helping people and medicine queries. A lot of people do contact about medicines and side effects – something you wouldn’t expect a pharmaceutical company to answer, helping from the other side rather than a patient perspective. So I haven’t left community completely behind! I have always wanted to climb the ladder of the pharmaceutical industry, and I see a lot of opportunity for that.

I went into pharmacy because my parents gave me three or four options: doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, engineer. But when they think of pharmacy, they don’t think of someone that works in industry; they think of a hospital or community pharmacists. Industry is less diverse than community. Part of the reason I took my current role is because of my manager. She is black and in a managerial position in industry and in the interview I said, ‘I hope this isn’t unprofessional, but I really want to work for you,’ because I have not had a black manager before. That was very inspiring – especially as it was in industry.

Inspiring more black pharmacists to join industry

We have to make people aware, from grassroots level, that they can go into industry. Visiting secondary schools and speaking about the different career choices in pharmacy would certainly help attract a more diverse workforce – and make young, black people realise that it’s not just hospital or community out there.

Black women are the most educated group in America, in terms of studying at university and getting degrees. Growing up, my friends, my family, and the people around me went to university and therefore going to Cardiff and realising I was a minority was a culture shock. There weren’t any professors or black people in high positions, so that made me want to go into industry so people coming after me can see me and think, ‘Femi has done it, so I can do that too.’

Read more Black History Month blogs.

We want to encourage voices that express the diversity of lived experiences in the profession as part of our inclusion and diversity work. If you’d like to share your story, contact [email protected] or get involved through our ABCD group.

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