Carolyn Beaudot is a biostatistician for Chiesi USA, Inc. She completed her BPH and MPH, both in Biostatistics, in 2005 and 2008 respectively, in the UNC Department of Biostatistics in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.
1. Tell us a little more about the work you are currently engaged in. What are your main job responsibilities?
My main job responsibility is to act as a project statistician for multiple investigational drugs, including products for respiratory, neonatology, and special care indications. This involves providing the statistical expertise that is necessary to plan clinical development programs, interacting with regulatory authorities, and providing support for the design, oversight, and interpretation of results from clinical trials.
2. Please share a brief overview of your career trajectory. What steps did you take after graduating from UNC to end up where you are now?
Prior to my current role, I worked in similar roles at two other sponsor pharmaceutical companies. Upon graduation from UNC, I was hired as a Statistical Scientist at Inspire, where I had previously worked as an intern. At Inspire, I worked on planning and oversight for phase 2-4 clinical trials in cystic fibrosis and ophthalmology. Inspire was a small company which provided opportunity to learn about various elements of pharmaceutical development. I later worked for a year in CRO doing more of the same type of work and eventually went on to UCB Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a mid-sized sponsor pharmaceutical company, where I worked on development of drugs for systemic lupus erythematosus and epilepsy.
3. What professional development resources and programs did you use or participate in while at UNC and how did these benefit you?
While a student in the Department of Biostatistics, my graduate education was supported by the Biometric Consulting Laboratory (BCL) under the advisement of Dr. Gary G. Koch. Through shared consulting projects with Dr. Koch in the BCL, I learned not only technical skills, but also about other important topics like communication skills, writing professional emails, and working with other authors on shared publications. As part of my work at the BCL, I was also able to participate in a student internship which eventually led to my first job in industry. Additionally, I took two courses for credit that were targeted toward professional development for biostatisticians – one specific to statistical consulting and another which involved visiting local businesses and organizations who work with biostatisticians. The professional development skills that I learned at UNC are ones that I still use every day in my career and so have been invaluable to me.
4. What steps did you take when you were still a graduate student to prepare yourself for the job market/your industry?
The first step in preparing myself for the job market was to really understand exactly what I wanted to do after graduate school, including being able to clearly articulate my motivations for desiring to work in my chosen area. With that in mind, I considered career options in my chosen industry to identify a specific role that would be a good fit for me and would also provide a comfortable level of job security. I then made a point to learn as much as I could from people with experience in similar roles.
5. What skills/competencies did you acquire in graduate school that you apply in your job today or that have helped you progress in your career?
In graduate school, I learned technical skills, including SAS programming and various types of statistical analysis, but I also learned many other things, including the value of participation in the statistical community and “soft skills” like communication and presentation.
6. What advice would you offer current graduate students about professional development in general or career advice for your industry/position specifically?
I would advise current students to find an advisor or a mentor who they trust and respect and then to heed the advice of that person. During graduate school, students regularly have to make important life decisions about things they have little-to-no experience in and advice from a good mentor can sometimes make all the difference. As a personal example, my advisor recommended at one point that I make a minor change to my planned degree path/program. It was something I was hesitant about and I never would have considered it on my own, but in hindsight, it was unambiguously the right decision. Similarly, the graduate internship that I participated in, which ultimately led to my first permanent job in the industry, starting my eventual career path, was identified by my advisor, who made the required introductions and recommended me for the position.