In this blog of ‘Career Insights’ series we talk to Hunter Vega, Principal Statistical Programmer and Project Manager of CROS NT, to find out more on her career path, achievements, current role at CROS NT and her interests outside of work.
How did you identify Life Sciences as the right career sector for you?
I have always been interested in math and science. When I was in college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I started out as a Chemistry major until an advisor told me about the Biostatistics program. I had always been interested in the medical field, but I was never sure about working in a clinical setting.
Statistical analysis of clinical data turned out to be the perfect fit for me. I can contribute to the advancement of patient care from behind the scenes, as opposed to being on the front lines like nurses and doctors.
You cover two roles in CROS NT, Principal Statistical Programmer and Project Manager. What was your road to such a double position?
After a few years as a statistical programmer, I began leading large projects for the statistical programming functional team. I found that I really enjoyed the interaction with the sponsors as a lead programmer as well as coordinating a project successfully from start to finish. When a project manager in our local US office moved to another job, senior leadership offered me the opportunity to take on a dual role and I happily agreed. I have found that my skill set as a lead programmer has translated well to qualities needed for a project manager role. This includes such skills as managing programming teams on multiple projects at the same time, making sure to meet deadlines for deliverables, and managing hours consumed for programming tasks within the statistical programming group.
What are the advantages of seeing the projects both from the point of view of Statistical Programmer and Project Manager?
In this dual role, I have found that understanding projects from both perspectives is advantageous to the people and processes needed in achieving the end goal together. As a project manager, I recognize the importance of timelines and budget management for a project to progress smoothly for all biometric tasks. As a statistical programmer, my experience from the operations point of view allows me as a PM to answer sponsor questions about CDISC data, submission requirements, and easily estimate how long statistical programmer related tasks will take. In particular, I have found that my background in statistical programming can be advantageous for my interactions with sponsors. In meetings, I am able to evaluate and respond directly to their questions about deliverables/feasibility of options, rather than always having to go back to the functional leads to ask for their feedback after the meeting.
What has been your most interesting project in in CROS NT so far?
The most interesting and challenging project I have worked on was leading a large Phase III long term extension project as the lead statistical programmer. We worked closely with the sponsor and had to develop our analysis datasets by incorporating our data with ADaMs from another group who were working on that project concurrently so this was quite a challenge. We managed this interaction by streamlining communication with the sponsor and third-party group. We hosted regular calls to review data findings together and discuss how the statisticians from CROS NT and the sponsor preferred issues were managed. Clear communication, rather than an endless stream of emails, helped us keep the project moving in an efficient manner so that all project timelines could be met.
What do you enjoy the most about working in CROS NT?
CROS NT has provided me the space and opportunity to develop as a professional, while expanding the variety of projects that I am exposed to. I have worked on projects ranging from Phase I to IV, Oncology to Rare Diseases. One of the great things about working at a unique CRO like CROS NT is that I can work in this duel role of PM/Statistical Programmer. I’m not sure how feasible this would be at a more standard Pharma company or CRO. Working as a PM, I’ve realized that there is so much more involved other than statistical tasks which are vital to making sure a project is successful. Client communication, budget management, contract terms are all important parts of managing a biometrics project. These skills will help me advance further in my career.
What are your personal values?
I think the values that are most important to me are honesty, loyalty, and never giving up on what you feel is important.
What are your main interests outside of work?
I have two little girls, Evie and Julia, and I love to spend time with them and my husband. I really enjoy reading, Carolina basketball, and going to the beach.
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 that are currently open.