In this blog of ‘Career Insights’ series we talk to Caroline Gray, Director of Statistical Programming & FSP of CROS NT, to find out more on her career path, achievements, current role at CROS NT and her interests outside of work.
I was what you would call a late bloomer to the industry and it took me a while after college to find my way to this industry. I never originally saw myself working in this field as honestly, I did not know much about it. My background is in electronics engineering and after many a late-night shift repairing PCB boards and troubleshooting electronics in factories, I decided to move to the UK where I got my first real data job in the telecoms industry.
I have always been interested in data and programming and I wanted to advance my SAS programming skills so when a junior role came up in life sciences, I jumped at it and have never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I love the variety and the challenges that come with statistical programming and the rewards of knowing that you are part of a bigger process to help bring treatments to patients. I also have had multiple roles within programming that have allowed me to gain exposure to the many facets of clinical data from database programming, CDISC programming, Statistical Programming and CDISC consultancy.
What has been your journey to your current role at CROS NT?
When I moved back to Ireland, I continued my career in programming and quickly worked my way up to senior programmer learning from some of the best in the industry. I was heavily involved with CDISC programming and leaned more towards clinical programming.
I wanted to enhance my statistical programming skills and was able to join an FSP team programming TFL’s, datasets and ISS/ISE pooling. At this stage, I started to become more interested in the management and business side of programming so I focused my efforts on my leadership and project management skills. Management became a passion of mine and I really enjoyed watching my team learn, grow and develop in their own careers. I moved into a solely management based position for another FSP before joining CROS NT where I learned more about the business and client relationships.
I started with CROS NT in January 2019 as the director of statistical programming leading a team of fantastic programmers across Europe and the US.
What does your day typically look like?
Typical is not a word that I would use to describe my days as every day is different. My main activities would be ensuring that my teams’ needs are met and that everyone is happy and s
upported. Understandably, with a large team comes with it the nuances of resourcing our varied portfolio so I spend a lot of time planning the department activities. I am also an advocate for continuous improvement so always on the lookout for a new and better way to do things.
My role involves a lot of interaction with other departments and also participation in RFP/RFI and bid defences and supporting business development where I can.
What has been your biggest success to date?
My greatest achievement has been to progress so far in my career without a degree. I went back to college in 2016 and obtained my BSc in Quality Engineering but before this, I had only completed a diploma in Electronics Engineering. I worked hard to make up for any gaps in my knowledge and I steadily advanced in my career through hard work and dedication to bettering myself. I always felt that I had to work harder to prove to myself and to others that I could be good at what I do.
What most inspires you about working within the Life Sciences field?
If you had asked me this question last year, my answer would have been different from now and I probably would have said the amazing people that I have worked with over the years. Having recently been enrolled on a clinical trial myself, I now see things from a first-hand experience perspective and how our roles in clinical trials have such a positive impact on patients. I feel so proud to be part of a process that can help bring life-saving and life-changing treatments to people who are sometimes without any hope. It’s amazing to think that our contributions really do go towards changing peoples lives and this inspires and motivates me every day to get up in the morning and do the best job that I can.
What would be your top tips for early-career specialists looking to develop in statistical programming?
Statistical programming is tough and there are many challenges, my advice to people early in their career is to learn as much as you can from others. Ask your manager for a mentor or coach and be proactive about your own development. If you want something, go for it and don’t expect it to land on your lap. Hard work pays off.
What are your personal values?
My personal values are to respect everyone regardless of opinion and differences. I believe in being kind to each other and having that excitement to always learn something new.
What do you love to do in your spare time?
In my spare time, I love to play with our two Jack Russells (Bo & Bruce), even though they are almost 13 years of age, we still treat them like puppies. I also love to play my acoustic guitar (which I recently took back up after a 15-year break). I find playing music relaxing and learning something new is always fun, plus, when lockdown restrictions are lifted, I will be a hit at all the parties. I’m also a real movie buff and like to watch the latest movies, particularly anything horror related and if there are zombies in it … I am in!
Would you like to join our talented team? If you think you are the right person for us, please have a look at the job positions currently open.