As a doctor who almost became a pharmacist, I particularly enjoyed reading Adesuwa Abraham-Udeh’s Day in the
Adesuwa loves being alone, even though she comes from a large family. You’ll catch her crying when kids sing or at some random TV or radio advert. Interestingly, she never watched cartoons as a child. I have to agree with her husband who thinks she didn’t have a childhood because she’s never watched The Sound of Music (fix up, Adesuwa).
Read to see how she balances being a mum with a (thrilling) full-time job, how she landed this job while still completing NYSC, and what she loves most about her 9-5.
By 6 am, but I actually leave the bed between 6:30 am and 6:45 am — typically earlier if I have a meeting or an early appointment. Once I’m awake, I check my mail, reply to the important ones, and figure out where I’m working for the day. Then I instruct my assistant to prep breakfast while I bathe and feed my baby. Once done, I have a bath, eat (or not!), get dressed, drop my baby and my nanny at either my parents’ or my in-laws’, then head to work.
My car. I drive, even though I need a chauffeur since I’m always on the road. But they can be quite unreliable, so for now, I drive myself.
I work with a multinational pharmaceutical company and am currently a senior medical representative for their Anti-Infectives, Respiratory, Urology, Neurology, and Psychiatry portfolios. My territory is mainly the Federal Capital Territory, with oversight functions in neighboring states like Niger, Nassarawa, and Kaduna.
What I do is quite all-encompassing; I engage all the specialists in these fields (pediatricians, urologists, chest physicians/pulmonologists, neurologists/neurosurgeons as well as psychiatrists and general surgeons) with respect to the therapeutic advantages our brands offer their patients.
I also engage pharmacists, to ensure availability of these brands and all prescriptions get filled with them instead of being switched to alternatives. In addition, I’m involved with hosting medical meetings which could be face to face, webinars/webcasts, product launches, as well as gathering important information relating to pharmaco-vigilance and other market trends.
I studied pharmacy at the University of Ibadan and was the best graduating student at the time.
So with experience in pharmaceutical research and retail pharmacy practice, pharmaceutical sales and marketing was the only field where I wasn’t experienced. My mentors at the time encouraged me to go into academics and research, although I wasn’t sure I wanted that yet.
During my NYSC, a senior classmate at the university encouraged me to apply to the multinational he was working in. As God would have it, they put out a recruitment notice towards the end of my NYSC. I applied, was shortlisted, interviewed and got the job even before I completed service!
The interview process was straightforward for me: written part, and first and second oral interviews before I was hired.
Fun fact: We were told to resume training at the new job before NYSC passing out, which would have been problematic since one needed to be physically present to receive the discharge certificate. When I communicated this to the recruiters, I was told to “either report to training or my job would be given to someone else!” I replied that during the interview, I categorically mentioned that I was still serving and they went ahead to give me the job. Did they expect me to abscond from my current employer?
Long story short, they postponed the training for everyone until after NYSC passing out parade!
Five years later, I’m still “gainfully employed” with them.
I already have a monthly work plan which guides me and ensures I meet all deadlines and appointments. Say for example, I have to see five pediatricians in a day, I would have booked appointments ahead because they are very busy people.
So I head to their hospital, pleasantly engage the nurses or their secretaries (otherwise, you’re going nowhere, ha!). If it’s a very busy day, I wait till the patient load reduces before I see them. At times, I just get to pop in and greet. Some days, I meet them free and this gives me time to hold productive discussions.
The goal is to educate them on all information including appropriate indications of our innovative medicines, ensuring that their patients get improved quality of life. Engaging them on a regular makes sure that our brands remain top of mind for these specialists.
There have been quite a few. But this one’s the most recent.
I only started engaging pediatricians from January 2019 after I resumed from my maternity leave. I was to oversee a national project to execute clinical meetings targeting pediatricians in March. This class of specialists are SUPER BUSY and it’s quite a task to make them leave their places of work to attend a meeting, especially as they are targeted by other companies as well.
But when the meeting finally held, all the major pediatricians in the Federal Capital Territory were present! I can’t go into detail, but they all showed up and it was so wonderful! I got a Global Employee Recognition Award for flawless execution of that project. It has also since become a “Gold Standard” of how meetings should be planned and executed, in my office.
Hands down has to be meeting your clients in their worst moods. Or meeting some who are just plain rude and uncultured. Thankfully, I’ve been lucky not to have many experiences like that.
I don’t have the same routine every day! It’s a big plus that I see different people and go to different places daily; it hardly gets monotonous for me.
The perks definitely are the people I meet and build relationships with! My connections with specialists in all therapeutic areas come in handy when family and friends need medical help.
Plus, if I ever choose to delve into drug manufacturing, I already know who my clients would be as I basically know all the wholesalers and retailers in Abuja and the other states I oversee. You know your network is your net worth, and this has really been amplified for me because of my job.
Some people feel that once a pharmacist isn’t practicing in a hospital or research facility, then they’re not fully utilizing their “pharmacy brains.” That is false! Yes, we do not engage patients directly but we engage their healthcare providers.
Anyone in the field knows you have to be prepared and loaded to engage specialists! The medical knowledge is as important as your brand features and benefits. So we have to be updated on the latest treatment plans for various diseases and my company does well to train us at very regular intervals so we are on target at all times.
Brace up for a roller coaster of emotions!
Be prepared to be highly professional as the job entails you to engage the emotions of another professional. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t go how you plan and you must learn not to take it personally. Some of my most difficult clients at the first meeting have ended up being very good friends and colleagues.
Also, you must be able to keep up with the latest advances in medicine because you need to give the right answers at any time — patients’ lives depend on it.
In addition, you have to be open to relocating, especially as you go up the career ladder, these relocation opportunities actually add more value to the experiences you gain on the job.
Finally, you need to be detailed in your planning, especially your day to day activities as our doctors are actually overburdened. Once you miss out on an opportunity to effectively engage them in a productive discussion, it may be difficult to reschedule, so been quite a planner would make the job easier.
Some practical tips for getting a job like mine:
Come home, play with my baby, eat, “press phone,” and sleep!
I love where I work and the people I work with — especially my immediate team. It’s also a relief to work with a structure already in place for me. That way, I focus on getting my job done while others focus on supporting me (which is their job anyway).
More importantly, being part of a system that improves other people’s quality of life makes me happy. Then, the certainty of a salary at a specific day of the month — so reliable!
Travel the world and scale up my makeup business.
Belly dancing is a career, yes?
Thank you so much Adesuwa! We wish you all the best with your belly dancing ambitions.
Read more: Fellow working mum, Osemhen’s day in the work life and a day in the work life of health policy researcher, Clara Affun.