Bsc Biochemistry & Chemistry to Managing Director, Clinical Solutions
Name: Chibby Ebhogiaye ( she/her)
Job title: Managing Director, Clinical Solutions and Interim Head of International Inclusion and Health Equity at Real Chemistry (Global Health Innovation Company)
A levels / equivalent :Biology, Chemistry, Spanish
Graduate degrees: Biochemistry and Chemistry Dual Honours
Favourite science fact : There is enough DNA in the average person’s body to stretch from the sun to Pluto and back — 17 times
Journey in three words: 1. Intentional, 2. Determined, 3. Agile
Briefly describe your current role
I am a strategic leader and subject matter expert for Clinical Trial and Health Equity related solutions. I lead the teams that deliver Clinical Trial and/or Health Equity solutions to our clients (biopharmaceutical companies) and orchestrate/oversee the progress of implemented solutions. I’m also a key member of cross-functional client leadership teams.
I provide guidance, research, problem solving, analysis and strategy on Clinical Trial and Health Equity solutions based on client priorities and internal capabilities. I also serve as a Business Owner for design of solutions, and I manage other business owners in workstreams, to oversee a full suite of services.
I’m accountable to my manager for the continued growth of solutions in expansion of offerings or creation of new offerings depending on the industry landscape and analysis of client pain points.
I am an industry Thought Leader on Clinical Trial and Health Equity related topics.
What motivated you to pursue a career in science?
I have always enjoyed science and intellectual challenges of research and analysis, right from early school years. I also enjoyed the fact that science is global, it’s a global language which can essentially take you anywhere. Lastly and probably the most relevant motivation for my career path, is that there is no health without science, and I had a fascination with how health evolves as science and technology evolves. It’s integral to our daily lives. Although I studied Biochemistry and Chemistry, during my studies I definitely enjoyed the Biomedical Science and Medicinal Chemistry modules the most. I had the most passion and excitement for modules that explored diseases, medicines, bodily mechanisms and formulae and other health-related aspects of science.
You decided not to pursue academic research. How did you find the world of clinical operations?
As much as I loved studying biomedical and health related sciences the most, I passionately disliked the labs. I knew I needed a career that allowed me to interact with people as I am definitely a people person and a collaborator, I knew I wanted to be in job that was integral if not related to health and health research,and finally I knew I wanted to be in a field where there were a variety of options for career progression (and of course a job that paid well).
I didn’t know much about pharmaceutical research at university. In fact the extent of my knowledge was laboratory testing on animals. I managed to secure a short internship at a Global Pharmaceutical company the summer after my second year at University in Clinical Operations and I loved it. I loved the intersection of science and business management. I discovered the opportunity to be in a world where you are still integral to health research and bringing novel treatments working in cross-functional collaborative teams, while developing business leadership skills and most importantly to me at the time, I would never have to enter a lab.
How did you go about finding your internship and what advice would you give young graduates in that sense? Did you do an internship because it was just the thing to do or was it a thought our decision?
I mentioned pharmaceutical research to my mum when she was pressuring me about what I was going to do after university, and so she asked within her network what I could do. Neither my mum or I knew it would turn out to be so pivotal.
I always advise people to seek these opportunities and see what support their university can offer to help them get a foot in the door (internships, work experience and placement years). I also encourage people to just message people on LinkedIn and build a network. People will always know people, who can help connect you with the right people or show you where to apply. Lastly lots of the larger pharmaceutical companies are seeking ways to help students and provide schemes - I encourage people to research that too.
Why was doing an internship important for you and how has it helped steer your career journey?
For me, the internship was critical as it allowed me to discover a world beyond the bench when it came to science. I honestly had no clue what I was going to do after my degree, and I knew that I didn’t want to apply to medicine or dentistry. The internship also prompted me to research Pharmaceutical Research and Development roles beyond Clinical Operations as I engaged with different stakeholders.
What do you enjoy the most about your role and what are some of the harder truths about the role?
The most enjoyable part of my current role is being client-facing, I get exposure to a broad spectrum of clinical operations activity happening in different companies from smaller biotechs to big pharma, and across all therapy areas too. Working with different companies to formulate innovative solutions and solve problems puts me at the centre of innovation and allows me at the forefront of industry trends, which allows me to influence how these companies operate but also learn about the inner workings of different biopharmaceutical companies. The harder truth about my role is that while progressing healthcare is exciting, the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry can often be ‘behind-the-times’ which is mostly due to the industry being so tightly regulated (with good reason). So sometimes I have to remind myself to balance my thirst for innovation with pragmatism, and I also have to be patient about realising change, especially when we get pushback from clients.
Which direct and transferable skills have you used from your degree throughout your career journey?
Data analysis and critical thinking skills. Also my understanding of scientific terms and processes helps me to understand clinical study protocols and procedures with ease.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years ?
Being at the forefront of leading and driving phenomenal industry transformation with innovative solutions (tech and data driven) and a recognised influential leader in Clinical R&D and Health Equity Solutions. Continued senior leadership roles. I am very agile as I navigate my career, I like to challenge myself and learn as I go, so I cannot say I will be doing ‘X’ role with ‘X’ title, but I know I follow the path of innovation and leadership.
You highlight the importance of mentorship and support. How have mentors supported you and how does someone even get started?
If it wasn’t for the mentors I’ve met along the way, I know I would not be where I am today. As a Black woman in a corporate setting, I’ve had to navigate barriers related to my race and gender every step of the way. Support from people who have seen me, and given me their time and energy to help me work out where to go next, helping me to make connections and grow my network, advice on how to acquire certain skills, and guidance on how to elevate myself and realise my full potential, as well as just a space to just vent and be completely honest as and when I need to, all of the this has helped me to overcome challenges or approach them appropriately. I do accredit my mentors for my acceleration in my career. It’s why I also am a mentor now and love giving my time to mentor people who are just starting or early on in their career.
Outside science how would you describe yourself
Outside of science I am a sociable and outgoing person who enjoys networking and meeting new people but would describe myself as an ambivert. I’m also a natural leader who enjoys coaching and mentoring people. I like learning new things and I’m an analytical thinker - I always have a lot of questions about everything!
How do you feel careers in your field have evolved / where are they heading to?
Careers in my field are always diversifying. Pharmaceutical Research and Development continues to expand which means that there is literally something for everyone, and you really can follow your passion. Now more than ever, I’m seeing people leave functional disciplines for an entirely new adventure. People will work in the Clinical Operations for years and then move into R&D tech to work on clinical technologies to support the Clinical Operations businesses. Healthcare data and tech companies are change agents, so people from life science disciplines are stepping into data and tech roles and thriving.
Focus on Clinical trial diversity and health equity has driven many organisations to create teams that focus on this work, so if your passion is to ensure equitable healthcare for all, there’s something for you too. I have friends and colleagues that have left clinical and gone to work in the commercial setting on branded products. In the past, I think people used to stick to their disciplines a lot more, but now there’s such an appetite and acceptance for people trying anything and everything.
"As a young and naive graduate, I had pound signs in my eyes when I saw what a career that linked science and business management had to offer. "
When considering your career path, how much has your potential salary affected your decision?
I am completely honest, at the start of my career potential salary was a significant driver for my decision to go down the Clinical Operations route. As a young and naive graduate, I had pound signs in my eyes when I saw what a career that linked science and business management had to offer.
However, as I have taken on more senior roles I evaluate multiple components to determine my decision. I put a lot of emphasis on work-life balance, company culture and values, company benefits (not just financial related ones, but things they offer to their employees for their well-being). For example, during the pandemic I noticed a lot of companies started offering discounts, or 6 to 8 free sessions of mental health services and I thought that was incredible. I also am now quite confident about asking about the diversity of their staff and support available for employees from diverse backgrounds. Of course, salary is still important. I’m intentional with calculating that my remuneration is reflective of my level of seniority, what I am expected to deliver, and how I value my skills and expertise, in coordination with what the market is saying for similar positions.
What advice would you tell your younger self ?
To my younger self whose Nigerian parents really wanted me to study medicine and be a doctor, and to my university self who was really anxious about what to do next, I’d advise them to base your career research on your interests, passions and what you’re good at. Seek mentorship early, create a Linkedin early and start following and engaging with content that interests you, which will lead you to making connections with the right people. Also, do not limit yourself.
You can connect with Chibby on different platforms