Life as a Life Sciences Specialist: An Insider Look

So, you’re doing great science, with all the ups and downs that come with great science.  You could keep on as a researcher or a practicing physician.  But something in you drives you to seek teams to join, fast-paced projects to complete, and maybe even to think about business. 

If this sounds a bit like you, you might want to consider joining L.E.K. as Life Sciences Specialist (LSS).

To illustrate how L.E.K. will enable you to expand from a technical expert to a businessperson, I’ve assembled an FAQ based on my recent conversations with prospective recruits.

What does an LSS do?

Here at L.E.K., we help a broad range of clients face a variety of tough issues.  As an LSS, you will help our biotech, pharmaceutical, MedTech, and healthcare clients with their growth and development strategies.

For pharmaceutical and biotech companies, this means that we often build financial models to evaluate which strategy has the best revenue potential.  This information helps clients to decide which drug to pursue, which companies to buy and which diseases to focus on.

To make financial models, we need to understand information including how many patients are eligible to use the product, how many of those will actually use the product, and how much of the product the patients will use.

In short, the LSS performs the following research tasks to attack this:
• Interview / survey physicians, payers, and hospital formulary stakeholders
• Review scientific literature (typically for epidemiology data)
• Research market trends in news and market analyst reports
• Read treatment guidelines
• Research ongoing clinical trials
• Review drug pipelines for competition
• Build financial models
• Guide associates in their research tasks

As you research, you will package your findings into concise PowerPoint slides that confer the key takeaways as well as your recommendations. 

We are also growing our Strategy Activation practice, where we help our clients go from “What do we do?” to “How do we do it?”  Each of these cases involve careful analytics and research to understand what the best path forward is, be it supply chain expansion to refining clinical trial programs.

What kind of training will I get as a scientist at L.E.K.?

In addition to on-the-job training, you will receive fantastic formal business training well-tailored to your background.  Initially you will receive a 2 week orientation, followed by additional courses every few weeks.  Then, after 6 months as an LSS, you will have an LSS Boot Camp.  Here you will learn to build financial models, information about the life sciences market, and further guidance for how to be an effective businessperson.  As you are promoted, you will have additional training sessions to support your development.

What is your mentorship program like?

When you join L.E.K., you will be paired with a Buddy and a Career Development Coach
• Your Buddy is an LSS a year of two ahead of you, and helps you to learn the ropes
• Your CDC is a Manager, and will be your advocate at consensus reviews.  The CDC will also provide you with formal and informal guidance for your career at L.E.K. and beyond

How will my performance be evaluated?  What is the promotion track?

For each case that you work on for more than 100 hours, you will be given a formal review from your Consultant, covering factors such as your analytical ability, professionalism, and research ability.  The manager and managing directors on the case will review your performance report as well.  Every 6 months there will be a consensus review, where your overall performance is assessed.

Your anticipated promotions will be (from time of orientation):
• Senior Life Sciences Specialist (1 year)
• Consultant (2-2.5 years)
• Manager (4-5 years)
• Principal (varies)
• Managing Director (varies)

When you become a Senior Life Sciences Specialist, you will be expected to build financial models and increasingly manage Associates and work streams, in preparation for your Consultant promotion.

Any resume advice?

• Keep it to one page- it is okay to list just one or two of your publications and label the section “Selected publication (1 of 3)”
• Add a personal interests section – L.E.K. likes personality!
• Quantify your accomplishments if possible
• Explain what particular honors mean
• Showcase any consulting experience you have

What is the interview process like?

Your first round will be two back-to-back 30 minute phone interviews with current Life Sciences Practice consulting staff.  You will have about 20 minutes of case interview and 10 minutes of fit.  The case interview questions will mostly be life sciences focused, and you will be expected to understand market sizing and key stakeholders for the case at hand.  My advice for preparation is to develop your stories but do not over-practice, lest you sound wooden.

After that you will come to the office to interview.  You will have two interviews quite similar to those you had over the phone, only now you will be speaking with managing directors, principals, and managers.  Then you will tasked with creating and delivering a small presentation, given an hour, a set of questions, and a pack of data.  The whole process only takes a few weeks!

We are looking for your personality, ability to translate complicated information into key insights, analytical ability, and drive to join L.E.K.

Say I get the position- when can I start?

Generally speaking, we have two orientation sessions: one in late June, and one in early September.  Joining at these times, you bond with your class while you receive crucial training for your work.  We have allowed some individuals to start off-cycle given the unique graduation times of PhD candidates. 

Good luck this recruiting season!

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