In Marketing and a Specialist all in one

Product Management in Roche Pharma

What leads a doctor of biochemistry to Marketing? Dr. Christian Polaschegg explains in an interview how he became a Product Manager at Roche Pharma.

Christian Polaschegg (35) studied Biochemistry at the Universities of Bielefeld and Göttingen. Subsequently, he earned his doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Münster. Since October 2011, he has been working for Roche Pharma in Grenzach-Wyhlen.

How did you, as a doctor of biochemistry, come to a job in product management?

After my doctorate the question remained of what I wanted to do professionally. Staying in science and conducting basic research was not an option for me. I wanted to do something different. Therefore, I could well imagine working in the pharmaceutical industry. I had a look at all of the usual job portals and found an announcement from Roche, applied and got the job.

Which position did you apply for? Did you join directly as a Product Manager?

First, I completed a three-year trainee program in Marketing. Half of the time is spent in the field. So, I presented data and led sales discussions in doctors’ practices and hospitals. It was good that this time was relatively long, since the area was completely new to me and I learned a lot in those 18 months. The other half of the time, I worked in the office in different departments and also gained a lot of important experience.

Isn’t that a rather unusual route?

No, even if it may seem unusual when seen from the outside. A large number of natural scientists work in Product Management at Roche. It makes perfect sense to be well-versed in the professional aspects in order to be able to perform good marketing for scientifically sophisticated products.

Nevertheless: Don’t you miss the technical depth – after all, now, you “only” work in Marketing?

What do you mean “only” in Marketing? It is an extremely challenging and fascinating job. In addition, I read all the studies on the pharmaceuticals and I am, therefore, always up-to-date scientifically.

You have the specialist knowledge from your studies. How did you acquire the Marketing knowhow?

Although I attended a seminar series on business strategies in the pharmaceutical industry during my doctorate, it did not really prepare me for the job. I acquired the marketing knowhow during the trainee program and with the support of my boss and my colleagues.

You walk into the office in the morning – and then …?

There is no daily routine, because the job is very multifaceted. There are office days when I, for example, communicate with agencies, which create the advertising materials for our pharmaceuticals. I also have the main responsibility for the development of the marketing strategy for “my” product. Furthermore, I am in continuous contact with various Roche departments, for example, with our field force representatives.

And when you aren’t in the office?

I am responsible for many tasks: Among other things, I conduct market research projects. This research includes, for example, how physicians react to our documents in practice, what interests them in particular and how they see the potential of our products. These insights then flow, for example, in the marketing strategy and new materials. However, I also coordinate company-internal conferences, where the Sales Representatives are trained and I am present in person. In addition, I contribute to the planning of large external congresses, where we have an exhibition stand and which I attend.

What was your greatest personal success as a Product Manager?

Roughly a year ago, there was a large congress, for which I coordinated the majority of the Roche activities. Just before the congress, Roche took over a company, which was also expected to participate in the congress. Of course, we wanted to perfectly integrate the new product and new colleagues, so many things had to be rearranged in a very short period. In the end, we managed to set up an exhibition stand and everything else worked out as well. I am quite proud of that.

Do you still see yourself as a Product Manager in five years? Or can you also imagine another direction?

I would like to stay at Roche, since I am very happy in the company. However, in five years, I will probably no longer work as a Product Manager. There are many internal development opportunities, for example, in Marketing, in Sales or in Market Access. As I have always enjoyed developing myself and getting to know new things, I am sure that I will take the next interesting step. However, for the moment, my job gives me a lot of pleasure.

© with Roche, March 2016

Tags: Career Blog, Germany