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BSc Biomedical science to Clinical Data Manager

  • Name ( pronouns)

    • Benjamin Forson (He/Him)

  • Course/ job

    • Clinical Data Manager

  • A levels/ equivalent

    • Biology, Chemistry, Business Studies, Maths

  • Undergrad and post grad degrees

    • BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science

    • MSc Clinical Drug Development

  • Favourite science fact

    • Human beings are more than 99 percent identical in their genetic makeup

  • Briefly describe your role

As a data manager I'm responsible for all data management activities small to large complex studies. I facilitate the setup and development and maintenance of the trial database and case free report forms, through working with numerous vendors and departments. I manually review, and analyse data, as well as running listings and reporting data to study sponsors.I am also the primary communication point for project teams and company departments with regard to clinical data management. I provide a communication line for clients/vendors for all data management aspects of clinical projects and clinical data management reporting.

Journey in 3 Words
Laborious, Fortunate, Rewarding.

What motivated you to pursue a career in science

I enjoyed science lessons in school and typically achieved good grades in exams. I was also intrigued by the ever-developing nature of science. This led me to consider science early on as a career option.

  • How did you decide on your MSc? and do you feel you made the right decision for your career?

I decided to do an MSc in order to specialise in a scientific discipline. I took an interest in clinical trials following an engaging module in my undergraduate. I sought more information through research and decided to do an MSc as I believed it would help distinguish me from other job applicants. I feel I made the right decision, as I've been able to get opportunities through achieving this qualification and the network I developed whilst studying.

  • You’ve worked both during your BSc and managed to publish work in this time and Full time during your MSc : What advice would you give in terms of managing time and was it possible to maintain a work-life balance?

Prioritise what is important to you and be prepared for opportunities. Although I am no stranger to procrastination, I set deadlines for tasks and ensure I meet them. There's often time each day that we all could spend more productively. My advice is to set realistic targets and start small in order to develop healthy habits in the way you work. Working whilst studying for my degrees did not drastically have an impact on my work-life balance. I endured to make time to socialise and relax during the holidays. However in my experience a healthy work-life balance in full time positions (post-university) has been more difficult to achieve. However flexible/remote working and developing routines has drastically improved work-life balance.

  • What is a typical day like for you and which skills do you enjoy using the most and which ones have you needed to learn and work on to suit the role?

A typical day for me can vary slightly depending on different phases of each project I'm working on. I usually start the day by going through unread emails and any messages from colleagues and vendors. I'll also check my to-do list and prioritise any tasks that are urgent, whilst setting out a plan for the day. I may have a catch-up with members of some of my project teams if there are any urgent/complex queries that need addressing, ensuring to account for working hours in different countries.

I'll also run metrics, listings and other data reports for different studies. I'll analyse data to give feedback to sponsors and/or appropriate team members.

Depending on the studies I'm assigned, I may also perform some of the following duties such as user acceptance testing, reviewing clinical trial data, managing queries, reconciling SAEs and other data related tasks.

I'll usually try and finish tasks to end the day, or get to a point that I feel is a suitable endpoint. I'll then review my to-do list and amend as necessary, catch up with any remaining unread emails/messages and then sign-off for the day.

  • What is your biggest pet peeve about how the world perceives science ?

That all scientists wear lab coats to work.

  • Outside science how would you describe yourself?

I'd describe myself as someone who likes to try new experiences (e.g. travel, food, activities etc.)

Image of Benjamin Forson sitting on a chair in formal attire
Benjamin Forson

  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself in a higher level role developing data management/science skills in order to become financially independent. I hope to either be working as a contractor (especially if I've further developed programming skills) or part time, whilst balancing other business ventures.

  • Having experience in both academia and the pharmaceutical industry . Do you ever see yourself transitioning back into academia?

I'm not ruling out a transition back to academia. However salaries and contractual benefits (i.e. flexible working and bonuses) would have to improve. Both are enjoyable, however with the rising cost of living, and career options for my skill set, the pharmaceutical industry is my current preference.

  • What are the main differences you have learnt between academia and the pharmaceutical industry?

Depending on which organisation you work for in academia, career growth can be limited, due to the number of roles available and funding. Pharmaceutical industry roles seem to offer higher salaries than jobs in academia (although this does not apply in all cases).

Also in pharmaceutical industries you may often be dealing with numerous sponsors for studies, whereas my experience in academia was the opposite. Sometimes dealing with a single sponsor is preferred as it enables you to better understand their working practices and studies.

However with that said, both academia and the pharmaceutical industry have roles that cater to a similar skill set in clinical trials.

  • What resources helped you most during your career journey

Training resources provided by my employers have been extremely helpful. The resources enable me to keep up to date with current regulations and working practices as well as help me develop for career progression.

  • How have you grown from rejection?

I take every interview as a learning opportunity. It helps me continue to build a bank of information about what organisations are currently looking for and how best to present yourself as a solution to an issue. Though rejection is oftentimes disappointing, there is typically knowledge that can be gained from the experience.

  • What are your experiences on mentorship and what advice would you give?

I've been a mentor and a mentee. I think mentorship is a great way to assimilate new starters in a company. I also think mentorship provides an outlet for information, ideas, feelings and general discussion to be exchanged, that may otherwise be avoided in a more public setting.

  • What advice would you give to people regarding salaries in your field?

If you don't ask, you don't get. Research the market before applying to jobs and negotiate salary or other benefits where appropriate.

  • How have your passions and interests changed since you started thinking of careers? Was there a defining moment for you?

Since starting my career I have taken a keen interest in financial independence. The pandemic further highlighted the importance of this. However most of my other passions and interests have not really changed since starting my career, they've just become more affordable.

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