Building a Career at PPD

Simon Korn, clinical team manager, based in Brussels, makes a return to PPD and continues with career progression into clinical team management.

Simon Korn, clinical team manager at PPD

Returning to PPD

When I decided to come back to clinical research in 2012 as a clinical research associate (CRA) I, I only contacted PPD. My previous experience at PPD was great,

During my first time with PPD, my former manager taught me a lot and challenged me by broadening my vision of clinical research. She taught me to think ahead, consider the implications of each decision both for PPD and the client, to see a wider perspective and to take the time to step aside and think about all possible actions to take when I faced an issue. It was extremely valuable!

When I started the process of returning to PPD, I contacted a colleague and explained I’d like to come back to work at PPD. She forwarded my CV to the current PPD management team and I was invited for an interview.

Career development at PPD

The beginning was hard because I needed to get used to systems and procedures, which were new to me. My line manager, my “buddy,” (a fellow CRA assigned to guide me and answer my questions), experienced CRAs from the Belgian office who assisted me on routine accompanied visits and the teams from different studies all contributed to help me adjust to the daily work. They were always ready to answer my questions. It was a nice feeling to have such a huge support around!

With time, I gained confidence and was so happy the first time a CRA colleague asked me for advice instead of it being me asking questions! In the summer of 2015, I became lead CRA on different clinical trials. In September 2019, I started the role of clinical team manager (CTM). I’m very excited about this broad management role. I know I can again count on my line manager, “buddy” and clinical team to support me.

Employees in Belgium

As described above, the line manager, “buddy” and routine, accompanied with experienced CRAs all contribute to the support offered.

But there is another forum where I learned a lot: CRA meetings. Every couple of months, all the CRAs from the Belgium office meet face-to-face and via teleconference to review and discuss various topics, including monitoring practices, IT software, new SOPs (standard operating procedures) and more.

The forum is an opportunity to compare monitoring practices, detect possible issues, find solutions to individual problems and escalate requests/issues/questions faced by all CRAs to upper management. I love this forum! It’s a free and open discussion with a very rich experience each time.

Although there is a big local support, employees in Belgium also benefit from global initiatives. For example, there is a shared mailbox for all CTMs worldwide. Wherever you’re located, the mailbox allows you to get feedback on preparing study documents, ask questions, share experience with regulatory authorities or about the implementation of processes. The global experience of all those CTMs is shared and available to all of us.

Sense of community

There are two kinds of activities: those proposed by the social engagement committee and meetings with colleagues at lunch or outside business hours. The social engagement committee is made of enthusiastic PPD colleagues from various departments who organize activities all year round: an annual party, food trucks and annual barbecue and charity events, to name a few.

Lunch is always a relaxing time. Whether in the kitchen or on the grass outside the office when the weather allows, there is always a lot of enjoyment to be had. From time to time, different groups of colleagues go to a nearby restaurant at lunch. Occasionally, on Thursday or Friday evening, we meet with colleagues in a café or restaurant in Brussels or nearby.

If you are interested in considering PPD career opportunities for the very first time or a former employee interested in returning, like Simon, please visit www.ppdi.com/careers.