Meet Caitlin, Senior Portfolio Planning & Decision Analysis Leader at Roche

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Hi my name is…

…Caitlin. I joined Roche Pharma Research & Early Development (pRED) in November 2016. I’m Welsh, and relocated to Basel, Switzerland from the Netherlands. I’m a neuroscientist by training, and hold a PhD in Neuropharmacology. I started my career as a bench-scientist exploring drug effects in animal models of disease. I was always drawn more to the big picture workings of pharma however, so transitioned fairly quickly into more strategic planning and portfolio management roles.

Understanding disease biology, identifying innovative ways to treat disease, and successfully leveraging this knowledge across the R&D value chain to bring transformative medicines to patients is what drives me. Fortunately, in my role (as the Senior Portfolio Manager & Decision Analysis Leader for the pRED Research portfolio), I get to live this every day.

I have the chance to work with dedicated and passionate scientists, and see from close quarters how our entire research and early development pipeline will bring significant benefit to patients.

My typical day at work is…

…spent gathering, processing and communicating a lot of information! People often ask me if I “miss the science” now that I’ve transitioned away from the lab. This couldn’t be further from the truth - in my role I get an insight into more science than ever before and typically get to see all the cool stuff first!

Making high-quality decisions is something we as a company must excel at if we’re to bring our most innovative medicines to patients quickly. Within Portfolio Planning & Decision Analysis (PPDA), we interact daily to support our senior-level leaders in their decision-making by tracking, analysing and sharing portfolio metrics and forecasts. We also collectively brainstorm and develop new Decision-Making and Analysis frameworks for teams to use as needed.

Most of my day is typically spent interacting with various stakeholders across the pRED research community. Together we track the progress we’re making with delivering the portfolio, and proactively identify solutions to any potential roadblocks.

The time I spend working with individual project leaders and research teams, understanding the amazingly innovative work they do, and helping them communicate their strategies and achievements, is probably the aspect I find most rewarding in my role.

The location I’m working at is…

…dynamic! There’s huge ongoing investment into the infrastructure here at the global headquarters, and the site is undergoing an exciting transformation. My office is currently on the 11th floor of building 52, which means I get great views of the city and the Rhine. My daughter’s daycare centre is also just up the street, so I’m able to keep an eye on her from my office too!

Deciding to relocate is rarely easy, but one of the major attractions of Basel as a home for us was its beauty, diversity, and proximity to so many other interesting European cities. Most of our free time as a family is spent exploring the city and surrounding areas, which are just short trips away.

My work helps Roche to…

…balance its investment in research and early development, understand where our portfolio is today and how the decisions we are making today will impact patients tomorrow. A lot has been written about the challenges facing Pharma as a whole, and in particular on the declining state of R&D productivity across the industry. PPDA's main focus is on understanding the factors influencing productivity and identifying creative ways in which we can optimise them to sustain Roche’s pipeline in this challenging environment.

Roche as an employer is…

…really committed to employee engagement, and looks after its employees very well. Having a healthy, sustainable work/life balance is taken very seriously here. As a working mother, maintaining this balance is essential for me to be at my best both at work and at home. Having fun at work is a priority for our group, and by making sure we all enjoy not only what we do, but how we do it, really makes PPDA, and Strategy, Portfolio & Clinical Operations (SP&CO) as a whole, a great place to work.

In my team we are looking for someone who…

…has deep strategic insights into the Pharma industry, proven technical expertise in portfolio management, and preferably either a commercial (MBA) and/or scientific background (PhD) in one or more of pRED's focus therapy areas. Our team culture is very important to us, so finding someone with great interpersonal savvy and exceptional stakeholder management and influencing skills would be key.

What distinguishes the Roche culture from other companies?

For me, I think it’s the willingness of the company to invest in what patients need next by following science. Many companies say they do this, but, in reality, R&D teams very rarely get the time and/or resources needed to really explore and crack innovative targets and technologies. At Roche, I see that our Senior Leaders have really empowered the organisation to take data-driven decisions at the individual project level, and project teams are given the time and space necessary to develop their ideas into meaningful therapies. This for me is really inspiring, and what makes Roche unique.

My biggest opportunity to date within Roche…

…is being asked to represent SP&CO on a pRED-wide subteam, exploring creative recommendations to address feedback from the 2017 Global Employee Opinion Survey. In our ever-changing landscape, we have a responsibility as an organisation to respond proactively to feedback and make sure individuals have every opportunity to grow and perform at their best. Being asked to contribute to this initiative in a meaningful way is something I’m really excited about and honoured to do.

Inspired to become a part of Roche? Start your journey here.

Tags: Career Blog, Switzerland, Basel, Portfolio, Management