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Commercial Graduate - 2014 to 2016
William studied a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (Applied) at RMIT University
Why did you want to work for GSK?
It’s hard to pinpoint, and easy to make rationalisations after the fact, but I think the biggest factor was a gut-feeling I had about the company GSK seemed to be. I’ve since come to learn why GSK appeared like a brand or company that fit me. It has real values that actually guide its operations, tone and decision-making. These values are within a meaningful context in healthcare, and so you’re provided a constant reminder of their authenticity and relevance. It’s really about a collective of people who care about healthcare and others and it’s this that made GSK feel like a person, not a company.
What degree and university are you a graduate from?
Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (Applied) from RMIT University, Melbourne
What type of work do you do?
I work in Government Affairs and Policy. It’s really an external role that is probably best described by the four main functions within our remit. 1) Gathering intel about our external environment politically and economically and sharing this back to the business 2) Researching, developing and advocating for policy and our positions to positively shape our operating environment 3) Developing and maintaining effective relationships with our key stakeholders and 4) Providing Government affairs services and issues management for our brands. The work is really cross-functional, meaning I get to work with a broad range of departments and people. It gives you a great view of the macroenvironment and what really influences the direction of our industry, and the political landscape.
What was your pathway into the business?
I had the great pleasure of joining as a student intern for a year long program whilst I was still at Uni. The Industry-based Learning (IBL) Programme was an awesome year of exposure, learning and challenges. The biggest unexpected benefit for me was going back to uni and having a whole different lens for learning and capacity for delivery. I’m convinced I got so much more out of the final year than I might have without all the experiences I had in the IBL year.
How did your IBL year influence your desire to continue with the business in a graduate role?
I was staggered at how diverse and complex the industry was and I just saw so many opportunities for learning and personal development. It was really clear that I would get the opportunity to learn about myriad functions and the different approaches to these, and to learn from many great leaders. I already knew it was a great company to work for from very early on, but that definitely influenced the decision too.
What rotation(s) have you completed so far?
I started in Oncology as the Haematology Brand Manager where I worked on a tiny, specialised brand in a small team. Without overselling it, the role just felt like it really mattered and like you had a real connection to patients. We all felt like that in Oncology as you can so readily see the impact life-saving medicines have on patients and their families. I also had the opportunity to plan for the launch of another medicine and that was a really exciting and eye-opening opportunity.
After that I moved to Perth (from Melbourne) and spent a year working as a Sales-rep for our new respiratory products. This was a really seminal year in my life just because it allowed (forced?) me to think about what mattered to me, and what matters in the industry. The experience will stay with me for the rest of my career.
I’m now in my current role in Government Affairs and Policy.
What are the best aspects of being part of the Future Leaders program at GSK?
Although we are ultimately all the masters of our own development, the support structure and the opportunities afforded to you are really unique. You can feel people driving you and helping to clear a path to development and success.
On a practical level, there are huge opportunities for breadth, leadership, travel and delivering big projects. I’ve always felt engaged because I’m constantly being challenged and given the chance to step through progressively bigger and more diverse hurdles. Whether that is working on launch brands, leading project teams or people management – the only limit to your opportunity is really your willingness and imagination.
What are some of the challenges of being part of the Future Leaders program at GSK?
Being out of your comfort zone, dealing with uncertainty and change and constantly being stretched and challenged. They’re challenges but they’re positive challenges that help you grow and develop. As I see it, it’s mostly about what being a leader means.
What advice would you give to students and graduates considering an internship or graduate role at GSK?
Do it! I think it's a particularly unique blend of characteristics at GSK that to me suits someone who has respect for people, who has a sense of social responsibility and is looking for a challenging industry to work in. If you're ambitious, then it has to rank very highly as a massive global organisation in a dynamic industry.
Other than that, my advice is to embrace change and ambiguity, make meaningful connections, celebrate your strengths, reflect on the impact your behaviour and attitude has on others (both positively and negatively), and drive the needs and desires you have.
How would you describe the impact of being part of the Future Leaders program at GSK, on your career so far?
It’s hard to gaze into the crystal ball, but the program has helped me build a huge network of friends and supporters and really stretched me to learn and deliver in an array of scenarios. More than my career, as a person I feel I’ve had the challenge, the space and the tools to reflect on who I am and what I want to be. It’s been nothing short of immense.