Jessica Nagar took the time to meet with us and discuss her career journey within the Life Sciences industry. She is a manager within the Accenture Life Science team in the management consulting group. We learned a lot about her curious ethos.
On pursuing the drive for challenges.
Jessica Nagar: I have always wanted to learn and challenge myself. Even as a child, I wanted to learn about the world, take on challenges and opportunities. I guess I was born with a curious mind. As I moved from academia to what I thought was my career path at the time (Clinical Psychology), I always wanted to make sure I understood my industry in its entirety, and I want to explore new topics related to the work I was doing. I’ve always chosen tasks, projects or jobs that challenge me because I believe they will help me, not only develop my knowledge but build on my understanding and increase my confidence. That’s a strength I’ve developed over the years—finding confidence to go for new challenges even when sometimes I’m not feeling it. Feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable is very important for personal development.
When I joined Accenture, I initially felt a bit uncomfortable, as it was very different to what I have done before, and in an environment, I was not familiar with. The opportunities which faced me, and the network I was about to develop created an excitement and this sparked my curiosity in consulting which has propelled me to take on more challenges within my job, gaining my confidence daily.
On the strengths she brought with her from work in a different field.
JN: I think there are a lot of strengths that are transferable from the roles I have had prior to joining Accenture, having obtained experience in the medical health settings all my career (Private and National Health Service) in the UK. After completing my masters in health psychology (2001), I was pursuing a career in Clinical Psychology and started working as an Assistant Psychologist in a private brain injury unit. I subsequently developed expertise in delivering psychological treatment and interventions to variety of patient populations including: forensic mental health, adult and child learning disabilities, schizophrenia, depression and anxiety. I started to develop an interest in clinical research after working as a Research Psychologist Practitioner for young adults with psychosis, from which I secured a role with the Mental Health Research Network, managing large scale clinical trials based at Imperial College, London. I developed so many skills in managing teams, projects and people, as well as working directly with pharmaceutical companies. I managed a team of researchers working with investigators on setting up trial sites and recruiting patients into clinical trials. I was fortunate to have worked alongside the most well-known Professors, Doctors and medical teams within Mental Health Services, and providing patients with the most up to date information about treatments available to them for their disorders. I subsequently managed trials and co-authored several published research papers. After leaving the NHS in 2012, I worked my way up in digital technology which then lead to setting up my own contracting career as an independent consultant for a large pharmaceutical company.
I do believe these skills and experiences are directly applicable to work and challenges I face in my current role. I have a natural mindset to ask questions. What does this mean for that person? Why is it that way? How can I make this process better and more efficient? How can I utilize my time better?
I try and unpack, thinking back to the methods of gathering information when working as a Psychologist. These were the same kinds of questions that I wanted to know then, and they still apply now. That is key for me to learn and understand, being able to ask the right questions to the people I work with, my clients and to myself.
On her inspiration in the Life Sciences field.
JN: There have been a lot of women leaders who have inspired me during my career. The leaders that have spent the time to get to know you, face-to-face (rather than the ones who are far removed from their teams). Even though they have hectic personal and professional lives, and a variety of pressures from being leaders, it’s those women who inspire me the most. They make time and space for others, because they are genuinely interested, approachable and down to earth people who are going to make an effort to get to know you and actually get the best out of you.
On the importance of curiosity.
JN: I’ve always been a curious person. I think because I’ve had to put myself out there, changing my career and re-educating myself continuously, that demonstrates the level of curiosity I have. It actually enhanced my ability to understand lots of different situations, people, and environments. It’s improved the way I assess a situation, truly understanding someone, and thinking about it from many perspectives.
On the best advice she ever received.
JN: Make sure that you set yourself a good goal in your career and in your personal life, and make sure that it becomes your focus point of where you want to be.
As long as you’ve got that passion, drive and commitment to continue going for that goal, everything else should fall into place. I was always taught you may need to change the plan you’re working towards, but never change your goal.
On having the confidence to ask for help.
JN: I think it’s important to just reach out to the people who inspire you and hold qualities which resonate with you, and just asking them if they would be willing to be your mentor. Nine times out of ten people generally say yes. They may want to know why you are seeking a mentor, as you might have a specific reason. However, you don’t know where that’s going to lead to in the future, because it can open so many different doors. It could be that they introduce you or connect you with other people that can open another career path or view point for you, it could take you down a path that you find that really fits in with your ethos. I always think having a good mentor is important to grow personally and professionally. They don’t necessarily have to be within the company you work for either.
Learn More About Jessica
Prevalence of Health Anxiety in Medical Clinics
Jessica has many published studies from her research work. Read more for a deeper look at her work in the Life Sciences industry.
Opioid Maintenance Treatment
Supervised VS Unsupervised Opiate Substitution Treatment
Antipsychotic Dose and Plasma Concentration Therapeutic Drug Monitoring
Assessing Challenging Behavior
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.