Swapping the science lab for the digital lab

Having graduated with a degree in Genetics & Microbiology from Queens University Belfast, like most of my peer group I wasn’t crystal clear about what career path I would follow. One thing I was determined about was that my future would be more about putting my scientific/analytical background to use in a business context rather than continuing as a hands-on scientist.

So, casting off the lab coat, I launched myself into what was to become a 15 year career on the business side of science. Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a variety of organisations including household names such as Which? (the independent UK Consumer charity), to local NI success story Galen Pharmaceuticals (now Almac Scientific) as well as in the New York offices of the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, an international Clinical Research Organisation. It was an exciting time. As my career progressed I got involved in the start-up and growth of a new business division and have spent a number of years based in both the US and London working with some fantastically talented colleagues and clients.

As is often the case for women, after some years my young family came along, for me (3 children in 4 years!). There was a point when the most sensible option was to press pause on the career and devote some time to the children’s early years. I do hope it benefited them (although as teens they may beg to differ!). It certainly had a positive side effect for me as it allowed me to do some serious thinking about the shape of the career that I would choose to return to. Although many of us, men and women, dream of a career change, it often remains just a pipedream. So I’ve been very fortunate to have actually made the switch to technology as I had been investigating the move for some time.

I wouldn’t for a moment suggest it was an easy journey – returning to work while switching into a different area is challenging and doesn’t happen overnight. Then the inevitable culture shock of working alongside a team of digitally native younger generation. But with the determination to stick to plan, keeping an open mind and most importantly, willingness to reach out for support to refresh and bridge skills gaps, then a whole new area of opportunity opens up.

The PwC Data Analytics Academy provides rapid foundational training in a range of technical and soft skills currently in demand in consulting and is an entry route to the Consulting Data Analytics team. Since joining PwC, I’ve been involved in a range of technology projects across telco, pharmaceuticals and life sciences and health industries. The experience has also served as positive proof that, as an employer, PwC really does put into practice principles of diversity and inclusion and is open minded in recognising the value that difference can bring to both the firm and our clients.

Olive Lappin
PwC, Consulting Data Analytics

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