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When it comes to advancing in your career path, extensive personal research and preparation can give you a great head start, but insight from someone already a few steps ahead can really propel you forward.
Here at Doostang, we know that singlehandedly catching up to people in high places (especially those involved in the hiring process) and asking them for behind-the-scenes career advice is no easy task. So we’re bringing the insider tips right to you.
Consulting the Experts.
We spoke with Dan Grabell who is currently hiring in the healthcare consulting industry at Bridgehead International, a widely-known and globally recognized boutique consulting firm. Read on for some tried-and-true methods that can help you get the upper hand and a behind-the-scenes look into the strategies that candidates have successfully used to land jobs in this challenging industry.
Tell us a bit about your firm – what do you specialize in, and what should someone know about your firm prior to applying for this job?
Bridgehead International is a globally recognized provider of strategic consulting in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device and diagnostics sectors. Our key services include pricing and market access strategies, opportunity assessment, and transaction support. The firm was originally founded in the United Kingdom in 1994. We currently have offices in downtown New York City, Boston, London, and Melton Mowbray (UK). Bridgehead was recently voted as the UK Strategic Advisor of the Year – Health Care by ACQ Finance Magazine.
From a candidate’s perspective, what are the most important responsibilities associated with this position? What would a ‘typical day’ look like?
There is no typical day at Bridgehead. Consultants usually arrive at the office and start by checking up on the status of projects they are working on, which may have changed overnight, since our offices in the UK and US frequently collaborate on global projects. Then we begin working our way through the project tasks on deck – whether it’s developing a client presentation, creating an interview guide for a market research project, or researching a therapeutic area and its competitive landscape. Other key project tasks include conducting telephone discussions with key external healthcare stakeholders and developing financial models for a transaction support project. Periodically throughout the day you may field client calls, scan the latest news for developments relevant to you project areas, or have a teleconference to help out another project team in an area where you’ve developed a particular expertise. At 3 pm, we generally take a small break to sample the cookies that are provided each day before getting back to the task at hand. By the end of the day, you are tired but have a feeling of accomplishment. The nice part about being a consultant at Bridgehead is that travel is limited to when it’s essential. Most of our meetings with clients are conducted by teleconference which provides a great work-life balance.
Can you provide a little insight into the hiring process? Do you have any suggestions for jobseekers that are interested in differentiating themselves? In your opinion, which personal traits/qualities/attributes stands out most during the hiring process?
As a boutique firm, candidates get the opportunity to meet everyone in the office they plan to join. For New York, applicants begin by submitting their resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. The resumes are reviewed by consultants in the NY office and candidates that meet the criteria for a particular opening will be called and scheduled for one or two phone interviews. If the phone discussions go well, we then schedule in-person interviews so that the candidate can develop a feeling for Bridgehead and vice versa. In person interviews involve a mix of fit and case-style interviews, in which the candidate will work through a business problem presented by the interviewer. After reviewing all the candidates the team makes a decision and extends an offer.
Candidates that stand out best demonstrate a long standing interest in and knowledge of health care. Our typical candidate for the analyst/senior analyst role has an undergraduate degree in a science area and has 1-4 years experience in consulting or at a life sciences company. Senior analysts often have a master’s degree in a life science area or in public health. To stand out, a candidate should be a creative thinker, have strong analytical abilities, excellent oral and written communications skills, the ability to manage several projects at one time, be able to take the initiative without direct supervision, and have strong client relations skills. We also value foreign language capabilities (e.g. fluency in Mandarin).
Is there a particular approach that candidates should take when preparing for an interview? In today’s job market, what would qualify as going ‘above and beyond’?
Candidates should be themselves and be prepared to talk about their experiences and background, about why they are passionate about being in consulting and why they want to work at Bridgehead. Of course the usual logic applies that the candidate should research the firm and know about the current issues in our industry. In my experience, the best candidates differentiate themselves by providing value during the interview process. One candidate developed a situation analysis of a therapeutic area she knew best. The proposal was very detailed and truly made an impression on me.
It is essential that candidates have interest and experience in both business and healthcare. Those particularly strong from a clinical perspective should expect to provide details of their business experience. Conversely, for those with primarily business/commercial experience, we will look to understand their interest in health care and pharmaceuticals.
Let’s assume that someone has been chosen for this role. What advice would you give to a new hire who was interested in building a successful career with your firm? Is there anything you have learned along the way that you’d like to pass down?
Being a boutique firm, we offer people the chance to take on a lot of responsibility fairly quickly, and being flexible is critical. We all take on a number of roles in any given week. In the same day I can be the project leader on one project and a contributor with a different project. Learning to adapt to the situation is critical to success at Bridgehead and most consulting firms. The other advice I have is some that my Mom used to say when I was growing up “You have two ears and one mouth; you should use them in that ratio”. In my experience, everyone has the ability to teach me something and I love learning from all of my colleagues.
As you can see, the opportunities are out there. Provided you’re prepared, all you need to do is find them. And we make that easy – for access to the crème de la crème of job openings, visit us at Doostang.
Wishing you much career success,