Charlotte Symers, GSK


Charlotte Symers left University in 2007 with a degree in Business Economics and similar to most of her University friends, was thrust into the world of looking for a job and the daunting task of deciding where to start.

I was fascinated by some of the business case studies we had covered at University, in particular the ones on Pharma companies and so I decided to research careers in Marketing and Commercial Leadership at Pharmaceutical companies.

I was introduced by a friend to the GSK Experience Day; a one-day networking event for Graduates to learn about Pharmaceuticals. At this event I was informed about the 2.5 year rotational Commercial Scheme GSK offer in the UK Pharmaceutical Business. The objective of the scheme is to offer breadth and diverse experience across marketing and sales, with the aspiration of developing you to Senior Commercial Leaders. The people I met were and decided to apply for the scheme.

Gaining a place on the GSK Commercial Management Trainee (CMT) Scheme I spent the first year in 2 different marketing roles, building on capabilities such as market insight and brand plan development. As with all Graduates, I was supported by a mentor. I found this support invaluable and conversations with my mentor gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and take up a 1-year sales placement in Liverpool. This was a real turning point for me, starting a new job in a new city really built not just my skill set but also my confidence and resilience to overcome challenges such as adapting quickly to new environments and working through challenging team dynamics.

At the end of every placement, my colleagues and I would present back to the UK Management Team on our objectives, successes, challenging and how we have developed. Presenting and engaging a diverse group of stakeholders is a vital skill and to give myself the best chance of being able to presenting in an impactful way, I attended a 2-day internal presentations skills course. We received feedback on our style, watched videos of ourselves presenting and learnt how to tell a story when engaging an audience.

Since completing the CMT scheme, I have had various marketing roles and focused on those roles that will give me both breadth of experience and stretch. My first job off the scheme gave me experience of ‘owning’ a brand plan, driving performance and sales force engagement. I then wanted to step-up my responsibilities and so have spent the last 18 months leading a matrix team of 8 individuals through the launch of a medicine. Leading a matrix team has built my capabilities in people management, managing team dynamics, decision making and strategic leadership. To learn more about people management, I attended a First Line Leadership course. This focused on the importance of building relationships and really knowing your team; understanding the most effective way of motivating, inspiring and getting the most of individuals.

The past five years have been a huge learning curve and I look forward to new experiences and challenges as I further my career at GSK.

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