APRIL 2001
Senior Clinical Data Managers Forum Motivating a Composite Workforce
Arriving at the Novartis Foundation I'd not given much thought to the topic of the forum. The initial pull had been to meet and exchange ideas with others in similar positions from both sides of the pharmaceutical fence - CRO/Pharma-ceutical companies. The joys of a small phase I data management group are many, but there is always a feeling that there is a world of data management out there and that we could only benefit from being involved.
My lack of thought about the areas for discussion was revealed to all within seconds when I was randomly (my background is statistics) selected to begin the introductions session. I rapidly explained who I was, what I do, and who I work for, but my attempt to explain why I was there was a little more vague. "I'm here to see what it's all about" was still haunting me quarter of an hour later when the other 15 or so participants had finished their introductions. These introductions revealed that the group of attendees was made up of a mix of people from both CROs and Pharmaceutical companies who had travelled from across the UK and Europe.
The afternoon was split into 2 sessions, each built around a problem encountered by the speaker. The first focused on 'Motivating temporary staff' and was led by Gill Lawrence. The second was entitled 'What are we going to do now?' which was led by Maria Small and focused on the problems encountered when a very busy period is followed by a return to a more normal volume of work. In each session the speaker made a 15-minute presentation. There then followed about 90 minutes where the attendees were split up into 3 groups and within each group the problem was discussed. Everyone then returned to the main meeting and the presenter and an external facilitator encouraged each group to feedback their thoughts. I suspect that before the forum began the organisers were worried if the format of the sessions would work. Well they need worry no more. Careful thought had gone into the members of each group and this worked well with the diverse nature of my group adding to the scope of our debate. After much intense discussion the groups came back together and explained to the presenter how they should have dealt with the problem! Whilst the topics chosen for review had not previously affected my department, this was not a hindrance. The discussions were very broad ranging and it was clear that everyone had a lot they wanted to say and were enjoying the opportunity of saying it to a group of like-minded individuals.
It was now early evening and whilst I slipped away others headed off for drinks, food and, I'm sure, a lot more talking.
Rob Nichols
Head of Data Management and Statistics, Guys Drug Research Unit Quintiles Ltd
Editor's Note
Having also been present at the forum and able to stay into the evening, I thought I would pick up from where Rob had to leave us and say a few words....
In the grand setting of the library at the Novartis foundation we were treated to a splendid meal and attentive service from the wine waiter, certainly an atmosphere conducive to conversation. It was nice to be able to continue the discussion, sharing experiences, problems and ideas and reflecting on the days events. Opportunities for managers to meet and discuss issues, particularly from different companies, seem to be few and far between. These forums are an ideal way of getting people together. Staying for the meal was also an excellent opportunity to network and develop new contacts on a more informal basis.
I would certainly recommend the sessions as a worthwhile experience - all I can say is that it was a shame I had to leave early for my train before dessert arrived!
Lisa Goodwin
Team Leader, Data Management, Covance CRU, Leeds