Alison MacPherson is a second year MBA student, who completed her Corporate Residency with Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc., in Montreal, Quebec. She worked on Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR) for the Latin America and Canadian region. “The role of HEOR in the pharmaceutical industry is to demonstrate product value, through encompassing elements including clinical efficacy, real-world data, patient quality of life reports, budget impact analysis, and cost-effectiveness models.”
As part of her role, she was to adapt various health economics models for Canada and various Latin American countries. This involved intense collaboration with colleagues around the world. As a result, Alison was a co-author on 28 abstracts during her 8-month Corporate Residency.
“Through these publications, I was awarded the 2017 ISPOR Student Travel Grant Award, through the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR). I was invited to attend the Latin America ISPOR conference in São Paulo, Brazil.” The award is only granted to 10 students from around the world, and Alison was the only student from Canada who attended. “I felt very fortunate to attend this conference in Brazil. Networking, attending short courses, presenting, and attending regional workshops and meetings was a tremendous learning experience. It was also a lot of fun to try some typical Brazilian food, such as Fogo de Chão.
“I would advise any students looking to attend conferences to take advantage of networking opportunities. At conferences, the days are long and full of presentations, panel discussions, roundtables, courses, activities, and more. Yet, it is incredibly important to make time to actively connect with others. It allows you to gain perspective and insights into different careers/organizations/industries, often allows for dynamic discussions, and it is an opportunity to build your connections.”
On how the Corporate Residency has helped her grow, Alison says “the Corporate Residency allowed me to make considerable professional growth. I knew I was interested in the pharmaceutical industry but had no direct experience in it. This provided a great opportunity to gain industry awareness, and have an idea of which functional units I am more interested in. It was a great opportunity to further develop my network as well. During my Corporate Residency, I was able to apply critical thinking skills harnessed through the MBA, directly to projects, and it enabled me to find innovative solutions, either independently or collaboratively. The Corporate Residency also enabled me to further develop skills including the ability to work autonomously, dealing with ambiguity, and problem-solving.”
For students who are not sure where they want to work, Alison recommends, “focusing on other elements, such an internship/job that will allow you to learn a great deal, gain industry awareness, earn increasing responsibility, and a position where you can add value, network within the organization or industry, etc.”
By putting in a lot of hard work through her Corporate Residency, Alison was able to participate in an exclusive event with peers from about the world. While not everyone may have the same opportunities, by working hard during your internship, co-op, or corporate residency, additional opportunities may arise that will further develop your career and professional development!