The first in a series of articles that opens the doors to Ashfield and puts you in the shoes of one of our people for the day. Come in, see what it’s really like to work in different roles and we hope you’ll be inspired to work with our fantastically talented people.
At Ashfield, we have a huge variety of roles. Every one of them helps us deliver on our promise to clients: get the right product to the right patient at the right time. This is how we improve lives.
In our commercial division, teams of sales representatives promote prescription brands to healthcare professionals across the world. We also have managers out in the field to guide and support these teams, and ensure client objectives are met. They help representatives to live the Ashfield values, agree development plans and progress their careers. We’d like to introduce you to one of these managers today…
I’m a Regional Business Manager (RBM). What does that mean? Essentially, I cover a quarter of the UK, leading a team of 10 syndicated medical sales representatives. It’s a fast-paced job but I love it. There’s always plenty happening and you’ve got to be ready to get stuck in and roll with the changes.
I conduct at least four field visits a week with a day for admin as required. So often I’m up early, drinking a quick shake and out on the road to see my team. They’re spread across the South and I like to meet them at the start of their day. This means we can catch up, I get a real insight into their current situation and we can discuss goals for the day ahead.
When I do take an admin day, it usually involves filling out reports, updating my team, working out expenses, managing budgets and preparing for meetings. I also report back to my clients, ensuring they are up-to-date about performance in the field.
Supporting my team
We’ve recruited a fantastic team that I enjoy working with. From dealing with challenges to celebrating achievements, it’s important to understand how everyone’s doing so I can support them and ensure we are effective. Helping the team to be at their best really motivates me; it’s why I took on this role.
I need to be flexible with how often I visit my team in the field. Perhaps I have a new team member who will benefit from more support or maybe I’m needed to attend a representative’s important customer meeting. Before I meet them, they let me know the day’s plan, the local environment and any other business. Depending on the client’s campaign, we can spend the morning on primary care calls and the afternoon in completely different environments, like nursing homes, hospitals and pharmacies. The day might include lunch meetings, one-to-ones, pharmacy calls or drop-in spec calls.
On each call the representative takes the lead as it’s important they develop their relationships and skills. I’m there to add support where I see fit, which is why, as an RBM, you need to be on top of the clinical side of the business, the treatments we promote and our client’s strategies. I make my own observations or notes of the call, ready for discussion and coaching afterwards.
Sharing best practice
After each call, we take time to evaluate successes, areas for development and next call objectives. I work with a highly experienced team, so there’s a lot best practice that can be shared. Part of my role is to make sure this happens right across the team.
I usually leave my representatives late afternoon, arriving home and ensuring all my own admin is done before stepping into the kitchen and turning into Jamie Oliver.
The final and most important job as an RBM is to work in partnership with clients. Understanding our clients and how they work to build effective, long-term relationships is one of my favourite parts of the job. You’ve got to be open, adaptable and work strategically to their needs – it’s an exciting challenge and it opens up great opportunities too. For example, I’ve become a national lead for one of our clients. This is an additional responsibility on behalf of the entire national team. I attend senior client strategic meetings and ensure updates are effectively disseminated back across the national team via the other RBMs.
Challenging, exciting and rewarding
Moving into management is a steep learning curve and I’d recommend finding yourself a mentor. Having someone you can tackle queries with is invaluable and Dave Walshaw, an experienced RBM, has been fantastic support to me.
Just like working in the field as a sales representative, you have to be self-motivated, as the RBM role can be isolating if you let it. You get to manage your own diary and spend a lot of time on the road. A quick catch-up with your mentor, manager or one of your representatives always brightens up the day.
Being an RBM is the most challenging, exciting and rewarding role in my career to date. Having first stepped into management eight months ago, it’s fair to say I’m learning every day, and I don’t anticipate this stopping any time soon. But it’s a role I’d highly recommend to anyone – you really do get out of it exactly what you put in.