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Life Sciences Associate Consultant Career Q&A with Elli

Elli, life sciences associate consultant at Clarkston, shares her experience with the firm and her thoughts on Pride! Read her career story below.

As Clarkston’s Pride Network Chair, describe what Clarkston’s culture means to you?

The Pride Network at Clarkston provides a safe space for community-building and collaboration among LGBTQ+ identifying stewards where we are empowered to envision the future of the firm. Clarkston’s adaptable culture enables an inclusive workplace in which everyone’s ideas are heard, and change is embraced to meet the evolving needs of our diverse communities. As a result, I feel like I am not only seen but valued for the unique perspectives I bring to the table and that I can be my authentic self at work.

How long have you been with Clarkston?

​​I have been at Clarkston for nearly a full year! I joined the firm in July of 2022 through the Bootcamp Program.​

What is your role at Clarkston?

​​I am an Associate Consultant primarily focusing on the Quality & Compliance space within the Life Sciences. Internally, I serve as the Chair of the Pride Network.​

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

​​Over the past year, I have enjoyed gaining more expertise in the area of Data Integrity. This has involved acquiring knowledge ranging from the fundamental ALCOA+ principles to concepts such as audit trails, electronic signatures and records, backup and restore, validation processes, and more. In my most recent project, I had the opportunity to contribute to a Data Quality & Integrity Audit team. This opportunity allowed me to delve deeper into regulatory guidance, review evidence to assess compliance, and gain a comprehensive understanding of taking a holistic approach to data integrity.

​I recently became a qualified facilitator for Clarkston’s IDEAs trainings, Unconscious Bias and Inclusive Language. These trainings create an interactive space where participants are able to share stories, engage in thought-provoking discussions, and participate in meaningful activities. The goal of these sessions is to equip attendees with the practical skills to advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion in and outside of the workplace. In my experience, facilitators and participants alike bring a remarkable level of openness to these conversations, fostering an environment that is conducive to deeper conversations and learnings for all involved. A significant takeaway from participating in IDEAs trainings for me has been that each person brings their own unique experiences and identities to the table; approaching conversations with a genuine desire to understand, rather than making assumptions, allows for greater empathy and connection between individuals. This takeaway has shaped my perspective and serves as a guiding principle in promoting inclusivity and fostering meaningful relationships.​

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

​​It’s difficult to pick just one, but Brilliant Client Service ​has always deeply resonated with me. From my observations and experiences, I believe that this value is one of the most significant differentiators between Clarkston and other firms. Brilliant Client Service embodies the spirit of not only meeting client expectations but exceeding them by going the extra mile, establishing personal connections, and delivering what we like to call “white glove” service. At Clarkston, we pride ourselves on being genuine partners, fully invested in our clients’ success. That extra care really shines through, leaving our clients not only satisfied with what we deliver, but genuinely appreciative of their experiences. There is truly no other firm like Clarkston when it comes to making our clients happy.

Which internal initiatives, communities, or projects are you involved in at Clarkston?

I serve as the Chair of the Pride Network, one of Clarkston’s Employee Resource Groups. The Pride Network’s goals are to provide a dedicated platform for engagement and support among LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, enhance education on LGBTQ+ topics, and actively recruit talented LGBTQ+ individuals to join our firm. In my capacity as Chair, I have the privilege of collaborating with an exceptional Leadership Team, as well as the Diversity Council. Together, we spearhead initiatives revolving around the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus on promoting visibility, fostering an inclusive and supportive environment, and celebrating diversity at Clarkston.

The Pride Network serves as a collaborative space where we can collectively envision the future of our firm, ensuring that it aligns with the evolving needs of our diverse communities. What makes my advocacy experience at Clarkston particularly empowering is the support and openness of our leadership to implement meaningful changes. It is truly refreshing to witness how receptive Clarkston’s leaders are to addressing the challenges faced by marginalized communities and proactively creating a more inclusive workplace. I take pride in knowing that Clarkston shares my commitment to promoting and advancing equity and justice for individuals of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations, including the LGBTQ+ community.

I am also a member of a couple of recruiting teams, including our new HBCU recruiting group which developed through Clarkston’s Long-Term DE&I Goals. This group is working to align firm and partner demographics with national demographics specifically through meaningful relationships with HBCU students, staff, and faculty. Outside of DE&I work, the LIMS Forum and Quality & Compliance Community are two spaces I enjoy attending for gaining subject matter expertise within my areas of interest.

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

One of the most impactful pieces of advice I have received in my time at Clarkston was a book recommendation called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. The overall takeaway from this book is “do less, but better”. This principle has profoundly changed my approach to life. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and out of control of my schedule, I specifically choose to invest my time in the things that truly matter to me the most and where I can make the greatest impact. Before coming to Clarkston, I was the type of person that tried to do it all and run it all. While I am grateful for those experiences, I eventually burned out. Now, before taking new opportunities, I carefully consider the trade-offs involved and if exactly what I am looking for is met. Healthy boundaries and the embracing the disciplined pursuit of less have enabled me to live a more balanced life than I ever thought possible for myself.

In your experience, what qualities make someone a good consultant? 

​​In my experience, there are a few qualities that make someone a good consultant, including skilled listening. Listening (really listening) takes intentionality and practice. It goes beyond simply nodding your head and maintaining eye contact when someone is speaking; it involves comprehending not only the words someone is saying, but understanding the underlying reasons behind why they are saying it. Asking the right questions is an important part of building this understanding. When a client, or anyone for that matter, feels that their perspective is genuinely understood, it fosters greater alignment, communication, and collaboration. Listening is also deeply tied with curiosity, another quality that sets apart the best consultants. Great listeners hear when there are deeper layers to explore. When this recognition happens for someone with a sense of genuine curiosity, they embrace this opportunity for growth and learning. Approaching each new situation with an excitement to understand the people, places, and processes around you not only enhances comprehension but also facilitates continuous personal and professional development through leaning into the unknown. I find that I gain the most from conversations when I listen more than I speak, and in doing so, I am also better positioned to help others in finding solutions. Oftentimes, people already have the knowledge to solve their own challenges; they just need someone to listen to them in the right way to help guide them towards their own realizations.​

Learn how you can develop your career at Clarkston here