Written by Andrew Fullerton Reading time: 5 mins
Can you give us a brief outline of your job?
I work as a Vet on the marketing team at Ceva Animal Health UK as a Product Manager (Marketeer). The role involves everything relating to the Products you look after. You need to work and manage people across multiple teams; supply chain, finance, technical (vets and nurses), sales teams, key account teams, graphics design, management teams etc. The goal is to launch products successfully into the veterinary market and a big part of this is communication to all the key stakeholders: vets, nurses, online pharmacies etc.
Where did your interest in working in this sector come from?
After qualifying as a Vet from Bristol University in 2007, I spent 10 wonderful years in general practice, both full time and as a locum. After 10 years I was at a cross roads, do I specialise? Start my own practice? Or diversify. At this point I saw an opportunity to move into a technical role at a pharmaceutical company and after 5 years I have never looked back! I was keen to learn new things, develop my own personal values and skills as well as improve my commercial skills and it did not take long (2 years) and I then took an opportunity to manage DOUXO S3 (a range of dermatopical products designed to help manage many common skin issues). I am currently doing my certificate in digital marketing.
How did you get into it?
I had some friends in similar roles and spent a lot of time talking to them and getting advice, I even spent a day with one to get some experience! The interview process is very different to an interview for a GP vet job and it did take a few attempts to get the job I wanted, learning at each attempt.
Did you have a plan to get to a certain point/level in your career Or did you just keep picking moves that looked interesting to you?
As mentioned earlier I was at a cross roads. But… I definitely knew I needed to change and keep learning which I had stopped doing as a GP vet. Many people think a role like mine will involve less stress and less work but… I work longer hours now than I did in practice, the difference is it is your project that you are working on so you feel much more invested. On top of that there is flexibility, you are not chained to set hours and 100% I do not miss the out of hours vetting! Our Veterinary Degree and industry is amazing, do not get me wrong, I loved my 10 years in practice an with no other degree would you be able to take the path I have! You do not realise how many of the skills we learn as vets then set you up for the future… what ever that may hold! Skills are transferrable and I always say if you are not happy then look for new opportunities. A quote I have hear before springs to mind: ‘If we spend all our time looking at the doors slamming behind us, we miss the ones opening quietly in front of us’.
What does a typical day look like for you?
This is difficult to summarise in 1 answer. As you saw in my earlier answer, the role is so varied. I tend to check my emails first thing and then have already planned my tasks for the day. This could range from forecasting my predicted sales for the next year to working on a marketing plan to visiting a dermatology specialist to discuss DOUXO S3.
What would you say are the best and worst aspects of the job?
Variety and collaboration. I felt isolated in my consult room and working with so many people day to day makes me tick. For me there are no worst aspects of my job.. I never dread going to work and even when things go wrong (nothing ever goes smoothly), you can tackle them in a positive light and always end up with a good result.
What are the main skills you need to be a Product Manager?
Many of the skills we already have from our training help. Communication skills are number 1. Organisational skills and a creative mindset are also important. One thing you do realise is that in practice, everything is done for you as a vet… As a product manager.. you need to make things happen as you are the person responsible for the brand you are working with. So drive and determination are key.
What are the common misconceptions that people have about the work you do?
People always think I am a sales rep. They also thing that we have an easy life compared to vets in practice. For me, as I said earlier, I work harder and longer hours than I did in practice but I do enjoy the flexibility and ‘being my own boss’ to a certain extent… I obviously have a manager to keep me on the right track!
What advice would you give someone wanting to break into this career?
Research what you want first, also the normal path is to take a technical role first as this is similar regarding your knowledge to being in practice. As a technical vet you will help with training, and all technical aspects of a product. From here you can then explore how the veterinary pharmaceutical industry works and what opportunities there are for you.