The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences was pleased to welcome Dr. Adrian Land, the senior manager of regulatory affairs at Proctor & Gamble (P&G) for the latest Career Exploration Series talk. The GSBS Career Exploration Series highlights the variety of different careers for scientists.
Dr. Land has a B.S. degree in Biology from Alcorn State University and Ph.D. in Microbiology from Indiana University in Bloomington. He then spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, while also serving as an adjunct professor of Biology at Belhaven University. Prior to joining P&G, Dr. Land also spent four years at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as a forensic microbiologist. In his current role as a senior manager, regulatory affairs, Dr. Land supports current business initiatives in P&G’s Global Beauty Organization.
As senior manager, Dr. Land works in a non-bench role at the interface of different functions within the organization. This requires the need to juggle and wear different hats. A regulatory manager must understand regulations, have knowledge of formulations of products (the chemistry), understand the business and manufacturing practices and how that will impact the products they sell in the different markets. They need to understand toxicology and safety profiles and ensure a product is safe and effective for its use. Regulatory managers also need to work with and understand the business side and be able to work with marketing and legal to make sure the product marketing and positioning is truthful and connects with the science. A regulatory manager position varies by the type of industry you are in: P&G is large consumer goods company; this type of position may look different at a drug company or medical device company.
Dr. Land related that he believes there are four needed skill sets at the core of doing this job well: communication, collaboration, compliance and crisis management.
- Communication: Regulatory managers need to be able to adapt their style to communicate and express what is needed from the other functions. legal, marketing, regulatory, toxicology, R&D – they all communicate differently. You need to transition your communication style as it takes a long time and a lot of work to get a product on the shelf.
- Collaboration: There are different incentives for each role and area, and regulatory managers need to ensure that you don’t achieve your answer or their answer. You need to stay in spirit of collaboration to get to the right answer and doing what’s best for the business.
- Compliance: Regulatory managers need to understand what compliance means for the product you are trying to market, which may vary depending on where you are marketing your product and what the rules are for each market. For example, global regulations vary and what may be considered a cosmetic product in the U.S. maybe be considered a drug product in another country. You need to ensure fair and legal practice in each country.
- Crisis Management: There are many moving parts to the process of getting a product to market. There are external influences, for example laws change, and products may now be regulated differently. A regulatory manager needs to keep everyone on the same page and moving forward.
Dr. Land also talked about continuing to upskill, and that upskilling enables agility. Agility is the ability to transition from one field to another, from one role to another, one industry to another. Continuing to learn and adapt means you can be available and open for opportunities, leverage opportunities. If all candidates have a Ph.D., your upskilling will allow you to stand out. Remember, you are the CEO of the business of you!
Dr. Land talked for a bit about the titles, roles and hierarchies at Proctor & Gamble. P&G is multiple Fortune 500 companies under umbrella of a giant Fortune 50 company with over 100,000 people. Titles go across the whole organization and do not completely reflect of the work that is done – where you are in the organization dictates your role. All Ph.D.s on the R&D side of the company come in at the band one manager level (previously known as scientist level), therefore, they all have manager in their title. The type of work that a Ph.D. will do will vary upon the area. Dr. Land is in regulatory affairs, there are Ph.D.s in many other areas including upstream/technology labs (which operate similar to an academic environment) or there are Communication Scientists and many other functions. It really depends on your experience and the opportunities available, and there may be unadvertised roles available. P&G often hires Ph.D.s for their ability to learn and solve problems. Generally, P&G likes to hire straight out of college and often promotes from within. Dr. Land is a bit of an anomaly as he came in with experience, but they were looking for someone who met specific criteria and experience that he had.
P&G is a very large organization with a defined corporate culture. The organization is nearly 200 years old, built upon principles and values, expectations of how you are going to do the work and how you communicate and engage. They have an expectation of integrity and a lot of P&G principles are similar to those reflected in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People book. Organizational fit is very important to P&G. Not matter your skill set, passing their organizational personality exam and demonstrating your ability to collaborate and work in teams and on committees is a big component to being hired. Each department/area will have its own subculture within the main culture, for example marketing versus research, and some of that is driven by the leadership of each area.
Dr. Land also related that in approximately September of each year Proctor & Gamble hosts an event called FIRST Conference, “Focusing on Industrial Recruitment of Scientific Talent.” This is a two to three day conference where Ph.D.’s and postdocs are invited to present their research. This conference looks like a research conference, but it is a recruitment & interview event – P&G uses it to look for attendees who would be a good fit for the organization. Applications are closed for this year, but the announcement/application will be posted on the P&G Jobs Board, similar to a regular open job position.
Prior to working at P&G, and after his postdoctoral training, Dr. Land worked at the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as a forensic microbiologist. This was a research-based position where he used his microbiology background but acquired competency in regulatory policy. It was a very unique role, there were only three of them in this field at the FDA. He said it was a ton of fun, and it brought so many different experiences. Dr. Land worked with counterfeit drugs and counterfeit tobacco products, and additionally there was also significant microbiology component as they had a BSL3 lab and could respond to outbreaks. He said there was always something new, you never knew what would come through the door on any given day.
Regarding hiring, similar to P& G, the FDA hires people with a broad spectrum of experiences and background. This may include Ph.D.’s, veterinarians, lawyers, M.D.’s, MBAs and many more. Positional titles alone may not fully identify the responsibilities for a role. In a large category such as microbiologist, each individual job description defines the position for that area. A “microbiologist” title at the FDA, could have a number of different day to day responsibilities. They could be a “regulatory microbiologist”, “research microbiologist,” “forensic microbiologist,” or a “supervisory microbiologist,” to share a few examples. It is critically important to read the roles and responsibilities for each opening.
For those interested in fellowships, please see: https://www.fda.gov/about-fda/jobs-and-training-fda/scientific-internships-fellowships-trainees-and-non-us-citizens
Dr. Land added that the FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services which is taxpayer supported, i.e. funded by allocations from the Federal Budget. However, some additional positions are funded by user fees paid by industry/companies to the federal government to enable speed to market. For example, there are generic or prescription drug user fees to fund FDA positions to ensure that FDA has enough staff to allow them to get their product to market more quickly. Drug development takes several years and has a small window of exclusivity. Thus, companies need to ensure that plant inspections and other FDA approvals happen in a timely fashion.
Finally, Dr. Land recommended to apply for positions as early as possible, especially if you have geographic restrictions or are doing a dual career search. It’s very important to submit tailored resumes for each position and write your CV in a format to meet the need of an industry review. He also recommended figuring out what they are looking for and assessing if that role is right for you. Now that he is on the other side, working and hiring people, he has a much better understanding of the difficulty and time it takes to fill a position. There are many steps to be followed and paperwork to be completed, and it takes a long time. It is an investment to get a Ph.D. in the door. The best candidates don’t always know how it works or understand the system, which is why Dr. Land enjoys giving career talks, sharing his knowledge and meeting with trainees. He finds that his greatest successes today are in helping others. He had great role models and mentors helping him, and he enjoys being able to pass it on.
About The Author
This article was written by Mary Bradley, MLA, the Director of Career & Professional Development at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.