International Women's Day 2023 - MRN

International Women’s Day 2023

Like the song by James Brown says “It’s a mans world…” and with 132 years still to go to reach gender parity and 151 to achieve workplace equality1, it is important to celebrate and uplift all of the incredible women around the globe.

International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the progress that women have made, while also continuing to fight for equity and continued progress and change toward a world in which everyone can reach an equal outcome regardless of gender.

More women have moved into leadership positions over the last decade but there are still vast barriers for working women, particularly in leadership positions. This international Women’s Day we spoke with three of the women on MRNs leadership team about their journey in the life science space, how they reached their positions and what advice they have for women everywhere:

Adrienne Bryce

Adrienne Bryce – Vice President Portfolio Delivery

“My experiences in clinical research in terms of the roles I have undertaken, and the experience/skills gained, have had a lot to do with the size of the companies I have worked in and the company culture. The more varied the role, the wider the remit and exposure within the company, therefore more opportunity to showcase an individual’s capabilities. Company culture plays a very important part, you need to be comfortable that you are being treated the same regardless of who or what you are and that you have the same opportunities. My advice is to not wait for opportunities to come to you, create your own opportunities to shine and show your worth. The more you are seen and the more you do will naturally expose you to more opportunities, that will enhance your experience and skills. Being influential in a role happens at all levels, everyone can be influential, and it is an important skill to learn how to influence positively. At the same time broadening experience/skills and knowledge maintenance is essential. I made my way into clinical research, working in a Phase I Unit in London. I was hired on a temporary basis because I am a qualified nurse; at the time I knew nothing about the industry. This started my career in clinical research 25+ years ago. Although it was happenstance for me to settle into a career in the clinical research industry, I used my nursing qualification as an advantage to gain a foot in the door and then worked to build the experience needed to progress upwards. I asked questions of seasoned professionals to understand how they got where they were and planned my career accordingly, in a step-by-step way. It was not qualifications that have helped me progress through my career, apart from the start, but broadening my experience, skills, and knowledge. My advice is to have a long-term career plan with a clear progression path, but most importantly, be very clear in your mind as to why a career in the clinical research industry is important to you.”
Caroline Potts

Caroline Potts – Vice President Visit Delivery

“I can honestly say that a career in research wasn’t really something that I planned. When I was young, I wanted to be a Vet and then when I reached my teenage years, I wanted to fly fast-jets in the RAF ... nearly did too (sort of). My first job in research was as an Administrator in an R&D Team. For the first few months I thought I’d made a terrible mistake. Why were people talking about things being double-blinded, and what on earth was a two-sided t-test or a p-value. In sharing my frustrations with my Head of Department, he suggested that I should maybe consider a course or something similar. Enter stage left a Masters in Clinical Research, great yes, erm not so much. How could I do such a thing, I don’t even have an undergraduate degree, let alone start studying at Masters level. But away I went, and I can actually say that there were parts of it I enjoyed, apart from the nine-month long module on Statistics. Many years passed and by the time I left the organisation I’d joined as an Administrator I’d reached the position of Head of Department, something I am very proud of. I was involved in studies of all kinds and worked with some incredibly dedicated folks. At the time I left, I was also studying, again, for a Masters in Healthcare and Design this time. This challenged me in different ways, it encouraged me to think more creatively and to not focus on their only being one solution to a problem, be it a design problem or any other systemic problem too. Do I see myself as an influential person, probably not. What I would like to think is that I offer everyone the opportunity to discuss something they think they can improve, no matter how small the change. The best sentences start with “I’ve been thinking” and enthusiasm is infectious. Although it was never in the life-plan to work in a research environment, it is rewarding each and every day. I’m not one to give advice, all I would say is that it’s ok not to have a fully formed life plan, but keep looking for that thing that challenges you, allows you to grow and gives you a chance to say “I’ve been thinking’.”

Shelley Fraser – Chief Financial Officer

“I’m proud to say I’ve worked in significant positions across two countries for the better part of 20 years. I started in my native New Zealand and have progressed from credit controller through, finance manager, Director, and CFO roles. I’ve often found myself as the only woman in the room offering a different perspective that hasn’t always been welcome, but wherever I’ve been, I’ve worked to support and promote the equitable treatment of women. A lot has improved over the last two decades but we’re still not on a truly equal opportunity playing field. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that men seem to deliberately identity potential sponsors (higher ranking men in their organization) to help them get promoted. In contrast, women focus on securing a mentor to support them with career progression through skill improvement, rather than a fast track to promotion. My advice to other women on their journey - get as much experience, across as broad a spectrum as you can. Don’t shy away from challenges, face them head on, no matter how daunting they may seem, and consider the benefits of acquiring both a Sponsor and a Mentor within your business or industry. Always be yourself though, don’t change who you are to get promoted.”

There are so many different paths to get to where you want and not everyone’s journey will be the same, but with hard work, dedication and the support of family, friends, employers, and government bodies Women will reach equity long before the 151 years!

Happy International Women’s Day!


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