Career Biostatistician Laura Willliams

Career Insights: Laura Willaims This is the first blog in a new ‘Career Insights’ series and we talk to Laura to find out more on her career path, achievements, current role at CROS NT and her interests outside of work.

Have you always been passionate about programming and did you know early on this would be your career choice?

Not at all! I’m an engineer by training and I have a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Bioengineering. While I was working on my thesis, I had to learn some more advanced statistics and statistical programming and I loved it. I realized I’d rather work with data than in a lab and have really been a programmer ever since. However, I didn’t stray too far from my main interest of working in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry.

What has been your journey to your current role at CROS NT?

My first job after graduation was a research fellow position at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I worked with the division that sets regulations on air quality, and mainly with the public health team. I learned a lot about public health research and expanded my SAS programming skills.

After about three and a half years at the EPA, I was looking to move from public health to clinical trials and applied for a programming job at CROS NT, I have been here since 2015. I started as an on-role programmer and became a senior programmer in 2017.

I understand you also have a Masters in Statistics, what sparked you interest in this?

I got the opportunity to work with statisticians at the EPA and decided I wanted to back up my SAS skills with a statistics degree. I then enrolled on a part-time program to get my Master’s in Applied Statistics (or MAS).

I finally finished my MAS in May of 2019 and officially joined Biostatistics at CROS NT in August 2019. So far so good – I’m officially working as a study statistician on my first project this year!

What career achievements are you most proud of?

My top one would have to be finishing the MAS last year. Also, I’ve had the opportunity to present at meetings such as Southeast SAS Users Group (SESUG) and Pharmaceutical Users Software Exchange (PhUSE) in the past few years.

What most inspires you about working in this field?

Knowing that the work we do has some small part in improving patient’s lives is very satisfying.

What would be your top tips for early career statistical programmers looking to develop in this field?

I’d say the best technical experience to get as soon as you can is with CDISC Standards, including both programming to CDISC Standards and producing CDISC documentation. Most, if not all, senior level programming job postings are going to require or at least prefer CDISC experience.

Volunteer to help with internal initiatives and support the senior or lead staff wherever you can. Showing initiative and leadership potential early will only help you when you are ready to advance to your next role.

What are your personal values?

I value honesty, kindness, and responsibility. I think those easily apply to both my professional and personal life.

What do you love to do for fun?

I love traveling, baking, and cheering on my university teams, especially (American) football. Go Tigers!

 Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.Career Insights: Laura Williams

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