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Life Sciences Consultant Career Q&A with Anna

Clarkston Manager and Life Sciences Sales and Marketing Lead Anna shares her career experience and how she’s developed into the steward she is today by continuing to push herself outside of her comfort zone and encouraging others to do the same.

How long have you been with Clarkston?

I joined Clarkston in the summer of 2011 as part of the Associate Bootcamp Program and am coming up on 11 years with the firm.

What is your role at Clarkston?

I have been able to grow and develop as a leader within the Clarkston organization.

To our clients – my role varies depending on client need: from project and program management support for their technology business functions, to organizational process improvement or strategy development efforts across the life sciences industry. I specialize in commercialization and digital enablement supporting the commercial functions.

Within Clarkston – I’ve been focused on leading our Boston area stewards supporting firm building including Associate Bootcamp recruiting in the Boston area and university collaboration for consulting project execution. Scaling these functions to provide growth and development opportunities to our junior talent – through project management, subject area expertise development, and people management – has been my passion over the last eight years. More recently, I’ve also stepped into the role of Life Sciences Sales & Marketing service lead for the organization – building internal capabilities around these service offerings and a go to market strategy for increasing our service pipeline with a team of like-minded stewards.

Tell us about a new skill you’ve developed recently.

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve been challenged to shape various organizational effectiveness initiatives across the biotech industry. Pulling on threads of intentional change theory, design thinking and strategic root cause analysis from across experiences in my career has been incredibly rewarding and helped design grounded approaches for solving the most nebulous problems.

If you had to choose, which of Clarkston’s core values do you feel resonates with you the most?

It was a close call, but I would have to pick ‘Initiative’ because of how true it is to my experience of the Clarkston spirit. I have never seen an organization ‘walk the talk’ more around hiring and retaining talent that seeks out opportunities to positively impact our people, our clients, and our company. We are an entrepreneurial ecosystem fueled by our own enthusiasm. Clarkston is an organization where doors are open to anyone with an idea who’s willing to put in the elbow grease to see if it works. My most meaningful opportunities here came from an interest or a curiosity and a casual note to our CEO. It doesn’t matter your level in the organization, anyone can be a driver for change and for that I have always been grateful.

How has your work changed post-COVID?

COVID provided an opportunity for me to step into ‘white space’ with my client counterparts and help them through challenges no one saw before. It was a unique situation where no one knew the right answer so more than ever we worked together to figure out the future and its impact on our clients. I believe the ‘trusted’ part of trusted advisor truly improved from being in the fire together.

COVID also changed my and my client’s approach to work flexibility. By bringing each other into our homes and our lives through virtual collaboration during the pandemic, we’ve been able to work smarter and gain more from the times that we choose to be in person.

I look for both to endure post-pandemic.

Can you share some advice that someone at Clarkston has given you during your time here? 

One of the most impactful lessons I learned at Clarkston has been about leveraging myself. In other words, as I grow and develop my career, making sure my goals shift to working myself out of my current responsibilities and growing people who can replace me. What got all of us here, won’t get us there and the only way to continue to grow is by moving outside of our comfort zone. This has shaped my approach to structuring development opportunities for our stewards as rotational in nature – assuming they will cycle through learning, doing and then teaching skills to their successors before they are bored or stagnant in that role.

A wise man also once told me that in his house “you can tell someone what to do, or how to do it but not both” – that has always stuck with me and shaped the type of people manager I want to be.

What drove you to accept Clarkston’s employment offer?

I met Clarkston Consulting at a career event while recovering from a flu and heavily medicated on cough syrup. I was interested in the consulting industry but hadn’t had Clarkston on my radar leading up to the event, so I walked up to the table with the intention confirm if the cough syrup had impaired my ability to interact with humans. What I found was one human organization. I ended up staying for the better part of 45 minutes hearing from stewards about the work and life of a Clarkston consultant. The more people I met from the ‘Clarkston family’ over the course of recruiting, the more their values and approach to the work we do resonated with me. Many companies have a similar portfolio of services or similar industries of focus – but our people and their ability to stay human through good times and bad remain the secret sauce that drove me to accept then and keep saying yes since.