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Where Are They Now? Interview With Sheuli Porkess, Medical Director - Almirall

Published on 8th March, 2016

Sheuli Porkess

Sheuli Porkess is an outstanding example of a high potential candidate recruited by Kilpatrick. In 2002 we introduced her as a Medical Adviser to the international pharmaceutical leader Boehringer Ingelheim. Sheuli rose six levels within Boehringer before moving last year to her current post as Medical Director for Almirall, a Spanish owned company specialising in dermatology.

We caught up with Sheuli recently to find out more…..

Why did you choose to join Boehringer Ingelheim?

At that time I was completing my medical training in the NHS and was looking to move into industry. Boehringer seemed a good company that offered interesting work across several therapeutic areas.

How did your career develop with them?

Starting as a Medical Adviser, initially I was very science focused, however I enjoyed getting involved in the broader aspects i.e. marketing, drug safety, medical and scientific affairs. In parallel I developed a passion for leadership and enjoyed the new challenge of leading teams.  This led to larger roles within the company.

You have held a number of international roles. How did you make the transition?

From fairly early on I expressed an interest in international work and my first assignment was as Medical Director for the Netherlands.  I did this for a few months and following a restructuring, I moved to Stockholm to take responsibility for the Nordic region. This involved creating and building a new team which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I then went on maternity leave and returned to take on global roles at the HQ in Germany, now focusing on quality management for medical functions.  I led a team of 180 people worldwide, harmonising policies and processes across the medical functions.

You were with Boehringer for more than 12 years.  Medical Advisers typically move employers quite frequently, particularly in the early part of their careers. When you joined them did you envisage staying as long as you did?

Not at all, I thought I’d be there about two years and then move on. However, I enjoyed being with Boehringer and they were able to offer continual challenges and variety so I never saw a reason to leave.  Having said that, I’ve always tried to manage my career, identify opportunities and put myself forward for them.

Why did you change to Almirall?

Having worked at BI, ICI/Zeneca and in the NHS, I wanted to try a new challenge of working in a smaller organisation. Additionally, Almirall offered an opportunity to use my previous experiences in the Nordics and Netherlands in a new way.

Tell me about your current role at Almirall

As Medical Director I look after the UK, Netherlands and Nordics. I have a smaller team than I had at Boehringer, but the responsibilities are broad which I enjoy.  It gives me the opportunity to utilise the experience I’ve gained at affiliate, regional and global level.  Almirall has a distinctive people focused culture which I like and plays to my strengths.

What are todays issues facing companies in recruiting Medical Advisers?

It’s always challenging to identify the right Medical Advisers.  I think the biggest issue is finding physicians who really appreciate the difference between the NHS and working for a pharmaceutical company and are able to work as part of a team.

What is your long term career goal?

I continue to seek opportunities that enable me to learn more within an international environment

© 2017 Kilpatrick Ltd
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