Interview with Nicole Fredrickson Talent Acquisition and Branding Analyst at Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.
The Medical Science Liaison Society Career Center team, recently interviewed Nicole Fredrickson. She joined Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and is working in Otsuka’s Talent Acquisition team to create new initiatives and programs to find top talent that will “learn, grow, dance, leap, and soar” in our unique culture as she put it.
MSLS: Why is this position open? Why are you hiring MSL(s)?
Nicole F: We are recruiting for a replacement MSL
MSLS: Did the company receive a label extension or a new approval for a product?
Nicole F: Yes
MSLS: Is this vacancy an expansion of the current team or a new MSL team?
Nicole F: No
MSLS: What is the geographical territory for the role?
Nicole F: We are recruiting for several different MSLs in territories across the United States.
MSLS: What are the travel expectations?
Nicole F: 60% travel
MSLS: What are the critical factors for success for the job?
Nicole F: Team/cultural fit, knowledge and willingness to learn,
MSLS: Will the role focus on just one therapeutic area or drug?
Nicole F: Each MSL role focuses on one therapeutic area.
MSLS: How big is the MSL team?
Nicole F: About 60 individuals
MSLS: Tell me more about the company and the culture?
Nicole F: Otsuka is an extraordinary company where people do extraordinary things. We are a magnet for top talent. Those who join the Otsuka family know that they will be highly valued and encouraged to fulfil their potential. That’s because we adhere to a number of key values that make us a unique and attractive proposition as we strive to be a great place to work in pharma.
Jissho-Shugi and Sozosei
‘Jissho-Shugi’ (proof through execution) and ‘Sozosei’ (creativity), which pervade everything we do, reflect our Japanese heritage. In other words, we encourage our people to push themselves to consistently achieve remarkable things that lead to them being given greater responsibility. An example of Jissho-Shugi is how regional account managers from our various therapeutic areas are selected to serve on the Field Advisory Board (FAB) teams. These teams are the voice of the entire field sales force, providing insight and guidance on improving procedures and making recommendations to implement innovative technology solutions for the benefit of the entire company. The FAB team members are selected as a result of their performance (proving themselves through execution), understanding of Otsuka’s culture and their ability to make contributions outside of their normal job responsibilities.
We believe in thinking differently and in challenging the norm, which drives us to do better than before. By encouraging our people to think unconventionally in medical areas where there are unmet needs, we have delivered innovative products in our key therapeutic areas of interest. Otsuka has always believed that human ingenuity triumphs over the use of computers when it comes to being creative and to having those “Eureka!” moments when thinking of products nobody else has thought of. An example of our unconventional thinking is Otsuka’s foray into digital medicine where we have developed, in collaboration with Proteus Digital Health, Inc., the world’s first drug/device combination in a tablet, pending FDA approval. If approved, it will provide data on medication adherence and other physiological parameters in patients receiving treatment for mental health problems. It is this willingness to challenge established ways of thinking and avoid standard approaches that makes Otsuka-people special. It is why we believe in our maxim of ‘only what Otsuka can do’.
Through pharmaceutical research, we continue to identify new treatment advances of high clinical value, avoiding the development of ‘me-too’ products. As a company, we don’t follow the crowd; we don’t just rely on computers for answers – we persevere, trying new avenues until we reach our goals. For example, it took 25 years to research and develop ABILIFY® (aripiprazole), an atypical antipsychotic drug that is now available throughout the world. Many would have given up, but thanks to the remarkable tenacity of our people, it was one of the world’s top-selling pharmaceuticals and enabled us to continue to invest in our research and development efforts.
We value diversity of thought which means that we form alliances and collaborate with other companies when we see there is an advantage for both parties. The co-promotion of NUEDEXTA® (dextromethorphan hydrobromide and quinidine sulfate) by Otsuka affiliates Avanir and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. is one such example.
As well as diversity of thought, we strongly believe in cultural diversity among our workforce. Otsuka-people come from all parts of the world and various professions. What matters most to us is that our people believe in the Otsuka philosophies and values, and have the creative and innovative qualities that we cherish. If you have what it takes to succeed at Otsuka, we provide the environment and the encouragement to do so.
MSLS: What make an MSL successful?
Nicole F: Perseverance and mental agility check out this “A Day in the Life of an MSL” video we have on our YouTube feed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv1JCiyfh74
MSLS: Are there any unique skills or qualifications applicants will need to be successful?
Nicole F: We are seeking MSLs who have an advanced degree (Either PhD, PD, or PharmD), and experience in our therapeutic areas.
MSLS: What are you looking for in the ideal candidate?
Nicole F: We are looking for candidates who are interested not only in the role, but in the company. We are looking for candidates who are learning-agile, interested in taking on challenges, and persevere through tough situations.
MSLS: What are some of the most common mistakes applicants make when applying to MSL roles with your company?
Nicole F: Not researching the company, not being familiar with what the position requires, and not asking quality questions during the interview.