Believe and you will achieve
Matilde Cabral is a trainee in the Pharmaceutical Communications for Key Therapeutic Areas & Markets. Read here how she gained confidence in her role and in the field of ophthalmology, even without having a science background, and what she has learned from the traineeship program.
“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes, then learn how to do it later”. I have somehow always felt connected to this quote by Richard Branson, which serves as a personal reminder of my journey at Bayer.
After I secured a placement at the Pharmaceutical Communications department at Bayer in Berlin, as a Key Therapeutic Areas & Markets Trainee or, in simple terms, as a product communicator, I remember being both ecstatic and nervous. This was back in September 2019 and, although landing a job at one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world was the best-case scenario I kept replaying in my head, I could not help but self-doubt. I did not have any prior experience in healthcare, and both the team dynamics and the work itself seemed like one of those jigsaw puzzles that take months to complete. It wasn’t until I had what I considered my first big project at the time that my mindset changed. I was asked to create a communications strategy to increase transparency in clinical trials and, although I was fearful of potential failure, I kept hearing my dad’s voice over my shoulder: “Ninguém nasce ensinado”, which is a Portuguese saying that can be roughly translated to “no one is born knowing everything”.
When you are faced with tasks that you have never worked on before, my advice is to simply start and not over think it. This was (and still is) the basis of my approach, and it will give you the necessary confidence for future projects.
Just keep it in mind: A tough task can be an opportunity in disguise which will lead you to greatness.
A hands-on approach
When you take initiative, you take control of your career. The key is to keep learning from everyone and take each new undertaking as positive experience.
I was lucky to have had a wonderful manager, team, and a network of colleagues who were nothing but helpful and supportive.
As part of my traineeship, I was able to take part in a rotation plan, which means that as a trainee, you get the opportunity to go to different communications teams over the Pharma, Consumer Health and Crop Science divisions for a short period of time, be it one day, one week, two weeks or even a month. In my case, I have expanded my network, gained additional knowledge, and had greater access to internal resources. I also got a better understanding on how cross-functional work is essential to reach our company’s common goal and, in the end, it made me a more skilled professional and a better-grounded individual. I got to be involved in fascinating projects: From rebranding a website with the
goal of empowering smallholders in Asia to helping the Consumer Health team to create a strategy around confidence and body positivity, I managed to embrace shared decision making as a core value.
Covid-19: A turning point
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly reduced our social interactions at work and has had many of us struggling with feelings of anxiety and loneliness, I have to say that Covid-19 was also a positive turning point in my career. Before the pandemic, I remember relying on my (amazing) manager for almost every decision and having our offices right next to each other meant I could easily scoop in and ask for her help. Naturally, when you are new you it comes in hand to be inquisitive however, making decisions on our own is part of the process that will make you grow. As we were forced to work from home when the lockdown hit, this meant I had to start relying on myself more, which implied thinking outside the box, rely on my instincts and be proactive when it comes to assess and implement decisions. I had a great team and a lot of support behind me, so it wasn’t like I was left to my own devices. However, by slowly allowing myself to be given more responsibility and by saying yes (even when you are not sure what to do) to opportunities that are presented as challenges, I started to feel that I was capable of being creative and tackle problems on my own.
Starting out in hemophilia and ophthalmology, I have been involved in many incredible activities, such as coordinating workshops with regional country communicators, preparing key congresses, writing press releases and reactive statements, leading awareness campaigns and social media efforts around disease prevention and driving the editorial process for example. I even got to travel to meet with our core team in Basel. And now, as 1,8 years have passed since I first started, I am proud to say that these were the learnings that made me able to lead my own projects.
Virtual Short-Term Assignment (STA)
I am currently working remotely for the Enabling Functions team in Helsinki, where I support not only the local team, but the Nordic region in building communication efforts. My virtual STA has a duration of 3 months, and despite the fact that I am in its early stages, I feel already that I am part of the team. As I was given full responsibility to develop both an internal and external communications campaign to advance diversity and inclusion as best practices in the Nordic region, I am slowly taking a chance to get acquainted with the Nordic traditions, not only by scheduling coffee chats with colleagues to exchange ideas, but also by doing research into local traditions, such as the Swedish “Fika”, the Danish “Hygge” and the Finnish “Nordic Walking”.
Not only do these experiences make me feel more connected to the local culture, but they reaffirm my belief that international experience has a positive influence in one’s career.
For all of these experiences and for the amazing people I have been able to meet, I am forever grateful. Bayer has offered me an incredible support network that has instilled great confidence to carve out my future career path.
Ready for a challenging and varied traineeship in Communications? Find more information here!