Field force: A job between cliché and reality

Woman and man watching a paper together, talking about it

"Field force work has nothing to do with canvassing", says Martina Rauschmeier from Roche Pharma AG about her job. In the interview she reveals what the task involves, what is actually true in the usual clichés and why embarrassing moments also have positive sides.

Roche Pharma Germany colleague - Start-Up Program Marketing & Sales participant Martina

Dr. Martina Rauschmeier (35) studied biology in Mainz and then did her PHD at the LMU Munich.

What is your job at Roche?

Since October 2015 I am trainee in the Start-Up-Program Marketing & Sales. This program is divided into two modules: first one does 18 months marketing in the field force. Then for a further 18 months one rotates through the office force where the application areas are Medical Affairs, Market Access and Product Management.

I am just at the end of my field force phase in the Munich-Garmisch district, where I was travelling as a clinical representative for a cancer medication. This product has marketing authorisation for the therapy of various solid tumours, amongst others with advanced breast cancer. That is my area of expertise.

Why did you apply for the Trainee-Program?

There were three reasons for this: firstly I wanted to get out of academic research and expand my expertise in the pharmaceutical industry. Secondly I had always enjoyed interacting with people and sales - it is not without reason that I financed my PHD through it. And thirdly I lost a family member to this cancer form. I find it all the more amazing to now be working for a company that is leading in cancer medicine.

What is your typical working day like at present?

I am in the clinic field force where visits to doctors are only conducted from the late afternoon on - unless one has an appointment with an office-based oncologist. So I use the morning to process and prepare meetings, to familiarize myself with the materials, to prepare event concepts and to read up on current health policy topics. Then I jump in the car and make my way to visit the doctors. But the day can also be quite different: Sometimes I have an appointment at 8 a.m. at a practice and then several hours without appointments, around midday a visit to a doctor at the clinic, then a telephone conference with colleagues and then in the evening an event. That's what's nice about working in the field force: It never becomes boring!

How many doctors do you visit per day?

It's difficult to generalise here. Sometimes at the clinics I can consecutively meet very many doctors, but sometimes they don't have any time or are delayed in surgery - this then means waiting.

How do you bridge these waiting times?

I always have my office along with me on my iPad: I check emails, plan events or repeat the materials to warm up. I visit many doctors together with a colleague as we are both clinical representatives for a gynaecic oncological medication. We then make use of the time to discuss current field force topics or to move ahead with projects. I have never really sat in a waiting room and had nothing to do.

During your appointments have you also experienced something particularly funny or bizarre?

As a newcomer you inform yourself about "your" doctors – also on the internet where you may find one or two photos. During an event once I thought I had recognised a doctor from a photo. So I went straight up to him and greeted him by name. Only unfortunately I was off-track and had mistaken him for a different doctor, an also older colleague. This faux pas was of course very embarrassing for me, but it did have a positive element: at the next meeting the doctor recognised me immediately and we can meanwhile laugh together about this episode.

Continuation will follow!

Read part two soon of the interview Martina Rauschmeier will reveal the properties that make up a good field force employee and what role the turnover actually plays.

©Roche Pharma AG with e-fellows.net, April 2017

Tags: Career Blog, Germany, Sales, Marketing