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14 November 2018

Developing a diverse skillset

The graduate trainee program at Grünenthal

Monique Mendel Ott recently accepted a job as a regulatory professional at Grünenthal – after completing our two-year graduate trainee program. Together with her mentor, Mohamed Adib, she shares insights into her development journey and the new career path she’s now exploring.

“Grünenthal has given me a great start to my career, encouraging me to learn new skills and pick up a range of experience – while making a positive difference to patients' lives.”

Regulatory Professional

Monique, how did you find your way to Grünenthal?
MMO: My journey began in my home country, Brazil. I completed a bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy there, before moving to Germany to study for a master’s degree in Drug Research at the University of Bonn. I undertook various work placements along the way, which gave me a better understanding of what is important for me in a career! It became clear that I needed a profession that would allow me to explore my passion for natural sciences while making a positive difference to people’s lives. That’s why I started looking for a trainee position in the pharmaceutical industry.

And Mohamed, when you reflect on your professional journey?
MA: My journey to becoming Head of Global Products within Global Regulatory Affairs at Grünenthal is a bit longer than Monique’s – almost 20 years longer. I studied microbiology and spent the first couple of years of my career working in an analytical lab in the chemical industry. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t the right role for me. I wanted a job that pushed me in new directions and challenged my natural curiosity. That’s what I’ve found in regulatory affairs. I was really excited to join Grünenthal in 2013.And eventually you became Monique’s mentor. But Monique, why did

Grünenthal’s graduate program grab your attention?
MMO: There were lots of options available for me when I graduated, but the program here at Grünenthal stood out above what other companies were offering. This company places a strong emphasis on research and innovation as part of its commitment to giving patients a better quality of life. It also offers a really international environment, which was a big factor for me. And the graduate program here provides a chance to work in several different departments, which gives you an understanding of how the company fits together. Having a mentor to support me throughout the two years was another important aspect. When I met Mohamed during the application process, he made it clear that the program was flexible and would be adapted to fit my interests and ambitions.

Mohamed, let’s change the perspective then – how did Monique convince you?
MA: Let me first say that I was very happy to become a mentor within Grünenthal’s graduate program because I enjoy supporting young people with their professional development. Our company offers an encouraging and positive environment for people taking the first steps in their careers. It’s clearly very popular among graduates: We received more than 120 applications for the trainee position that we offered to Monique within just three days! Together with my colleagues from Human Resources, we invested a lot of time and effort into reviewing the resumés and cover letters, and developing clear criteria for selecting a candidate. This was particularly important because there’s no standard path to becoming a regulatory professional – so we created an approach based on our knowledge and experience. Monique stood out from the crowd and convinced us right from the start that she would be the best fit for our company.

Monique, you said that you were promised a flexible program adapted to your interest. So, what route did you follow during your two years in the graduate program?
MMO: I spent time working in the Global Drug Safety team and the Global Clinical Development team here at our headquarters. I also had an assignment within Regulatory Affairs in our German affiliate. Each new project had a clear connection to the one before, so the transitions were always smooth. I mostly worked on Palexia, but I also experienced projects involving other brands. I was given responsible tasks early in the program and was always made to feel like part of the team. Mohamed gave me guidance during challenging situations and always encouraged an open communication which gave no chance for major problems to emerge. This made a big difference in my development during the trainee program.

MA: Oh, that’s true. We met regularly throughout the two years – and we still do now. Monique always speaks up when something needs to be said, but she’s also a great listener and turns advice into action. We gave her opportunities to experience a variety of roles to make sure she would develop into a strong candidate for a wide range of potential positions after completing the trainee program.

And what was the most important thing you learned during that journey?
MMO: It was really valuable to build a strong network of colleagues across the company who I can contact and ask for advice. I also benefitted from being part of a group of trainees who met regularly to chat about our experiences. Alongside our assignments, we also received training in skills ranging from delivering effective presentations through to project management and problem-solving. Overall, I think the most important thing was to gather a range of different experiences. I feel like I’ve got a strong professional profile because I’ve developed such a diverse skillset.

Would you add anything to that Mohamed?
MA: From my perspective, it was incredibly enjoyable to share my passion for this area of work with Monique. I’m delighted that she has decided to explore a career in this field.

Where will your future lead Monique?
MMO: At the end of the graduate program, I accepted an offer to join Grünenthal as a regulatory professional. I’ve been in this role since August 2018 and I’m enjoying it. This is a great company for people who are beginning their careers because its size allows you to get to know people from across departments. There’s an international environment and people are very open. If you’re enthusiastic and driven, you’ll get a chance to shape things at Grünenthal. I’ve got lots of passion and energy because of my Latin American upbringing – and I’m now applying this spirit to my work every day as I make my contribution to improving patients’ lives.

And Mohamed, at the end, would you accept a graduate in your department again?
MA: Absolutely. Monique was the first trainee in our Regulatory Affairs department, but we’ve now welcomed one more and are looking forward to guiding her along the first steps into her professional life. Monique’s story is a great example for other trainees to follow as they begin their journey at Grünenthal.

Thank you for taking the time and sharing these insights with us – it was a pleasure.

“Working with young people and helping them develop is incredibly rewarding – particularly because it gives me an opportunity to share my passion for the work I do.”

Mohamed Adib
Head Grünenthal Brands
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