Ann Dodds-Frerichs didn’t begin her career with regulatory affairs in mind. In fact, the Vice President of Global Regulatory Sciences at Biogen started in research within a lab environment. She held several different jobs until she found what was right for her. We sat down to talk with her about her work in the Life Sciences industry and the journey to her current career path.

On the course of her career.

ANN DODDS-FRERICHS: I started my career in research because I had a very strong interest in science. After I graduated from college with a degree in biology, many of the available positions for someone with my background were in research, working in the laboratory as a lab technician. After working as a lab technician, I decided that I wanted to explore careers and opportunities outside of the lab environment but still within science. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I was excited about life sciences and wanted to explore how I could use my science degree in a business setting. I decided to get a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). During my MBA studies, it became evident how I could use my science background and combine it with what I was learning about business and organizations. I was eager to expand my horizons and willing to seek out and accept new opportunities that I was offered.

On what has guided her career path.

ADF: There are many paths that you can take in your career, and it’s rarely a straight line. It often becomes an exploration of opportunities. What molded my career and brought me to where I am now was a combination of my willingness to work hard, explore possibilities and stretch myself when people saw my potential. I am here today, the Vice President of Global Regulatory Sciences in a great organization, in an industry I am passionate about with a fantastic team around me all because I said yes to the opportunities that were open to me and worked hard to meet these challenges.

On one of the most pivotal points in her career.

ADF: Early on, I was working in a very small company, still fairly junior. I didn’t have a lot of experience in regulatory affairs, but I was part of a team that was responsible for starting up and completing a global Phase 3 clinical trial for a product for infants.

It was an incredible experience as I was learning something new every day. I was exposed to all areas of a clinical trial, which was exciting and brought with it huge job satisfaction. I was also able to see all aspects of regulatory affairs and how pivotal regulatory affairs is in getting life changing medicines to people. This is when I found my passion and my "niche." I think in that moment, where I could see the bigger picture of regulatory affairs and how everything connected together, that’s when it became a career for me.

On the best advice she ever received.

ADF: Don’t be afraid of change. Change is good. Without change you can’t improve, and you can’t reach your full potential. It doesn’t matter if the change turns out as planned or not because you always end up learning and growing. Explore new opportunities and work hard to learn as much as you can when given those chances to stretch yourself.

People at the beginning of their careers sometimes think it’s a straight path to your career goal; Oh, I pick something, and I just do it, and I progress on that path. It’s really not like that. Your career is an amazing journey. It is a time to explore and learn and there will always be opportunities.

This blog is part of a series that focuses on individual journeys of the women in life sciences who are driving change to how we develop and deliver better patient outcomes.

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