Most of the biopharma sales trainers I’ve come into contact with over the past 17 years have cycled in from a field sales position. Many were on rotation for a period of time (typically 18 months to 3 years); some stayed in T&D, or cycled back in after another rotation in field management.
Also, many have left the industry; willingly, or (for more often lately), through downsizing.
I’ve talked with a number of folks leaving their (once seemingly secure) positions in biopharma companies, who are contemplating the world of work “out there” and wondering if their prior dedication to this industry leaves them at a disadvantage.
I don’t think so, especially if you’ve had a successful time learning the skills to become a good trainer. Here’s why:
- Communication skills that you learn in training will be universally applicable in every career choice you make.
- Facilitation skills will set you apart from the run-of-the-mill employee who has never been trained in how to run a meeting.
- Leadership skills that are embedded in the training function will rise to the surface in every future role.
- Management skills (including horizontal, matrix-style management) that develop through being in a HQ position are hugely important no matter what industry or role you land in.
- Training enforces orderly, systematic thinking. Guess how many woolly-headed business people are out there who cannot connect dots logically?
- Confidence that comes from playing the role of instructor will seep into your DNA and make you more effective in every realm.
- Being in a training department will expose you to the Strategic/Tactical tension (and merge) that any developing leader needs to grasp.
In short, if you’ve been a contributor in a training department, you’ve gained a wealth of valuable experience that you may vastly underestimate, simply because you don’t live and breathe next to a bunch of your peers in other industries who have had far more limited development opportunities.
It’s a privilege for me to work regularly with so many smart, personable, and teachable folks. Realize that you are developing a host of skills and disciplines that completely transcend this industry. And that often transcend the slip-shod training and development that leaves so many others less capable than you are.