Aspiring marketer Matt Callaghan discusses the challenges of working in three different countries,  his upcoming foray into strategic marketing and excitement at winning a prestigious award

How do you start your day?

I have a one-year-old son whose day starts at 6am, so my day starts then too. However, because I am field-based and cover a large area, around three days a week I am away from home so I get up a little later. After a strong coffee I take a peek at my email – Celgene is a US-headquartered company so we work across several time zones – and then I get on with the real work of the day. 

What is your current role?

I am regional business manager for the Celtic region, which covers Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. My biggest responsibility is looking after our six key account managers in the haematology and oncology franchises, to make sure they are supported and have what they need to succeed. However, I will soon be taking on an additional marketing role to help build a new strategic franchise in lymphoma, so it will be an interesting balancing act. 

What is your background?

After a degree in psychology and eighteen months trying to become a novelist, I took an administrator’s job at Napp Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge and my career has grown from there. The majority of my career has been in analytics, firstly at Napp, where I also did a stint in sales, then consulting with a really interesting Spanish company called Interactive Medica. After we discovered we were expecting our daughter, I wanted to be closer to home so I made a list of the companies I wanted to work for and saw that Celgene was looking for someone to create an analytics function, so I was the first person through the door of the Insights team. After a time in operations in haematology, I saw the RBM role and it was so intriguing that I couldn’t ignore it.

My wide-ranging background is characteristic of the approach Celgene takes, that is bringing people with different skillsets and ideas into roles. In spite of all the differences between the countries, we run each region along the same lines – the right approach for the right customers and environment.

What are your biggest challenges?

Our big challenge is the complexity created by having multiple products in multiple countries. Within the Celtic region we have three entirely different countries, each with its own healthcare system, HTA process and approach to funding. For example, Irish haematologists tend to look towards America for guidance as many were trained or have done a great deal of work there, whereas Northern Irish doctors tend to look towards the rest of Britain.

What’s more, this complexity is only going to increase because Celgene has a very exciting and full pipeline – although it’s a great problem to have. There are always exciting challenges and opportunities coming along.

What challenges and opportunities do you see in the near future?

For the business, the challenges won’t change. For me, my challenge is going to be marrying up and prioritising my time and focus for both sides of my role – the RBM part and the new marketing side. The new aspect of my role is much more future-facing, which is exciting, but it is very important to me to ensure I am still doing the right thing by my team.

At Celgene, our disease teams are co-led by medical and commercial, and my new role will be as co-lead of the lymphoma team for UK and Ireland. We have some very exciting late-stage prospects in the pipeline so I’m sure it will be a really exciting area to work in. I believe we will be able to make a real difference for lymphoma patients and I cannot wait to lead the disease team through what feels like a journey of discovery.

Looking at the industry more generally, what challenges do you see ahead?

I believe we’ve reached a point where we must work in partnership with the NHS. It is the only way to deliver the greatest benefit to our patients. We can no longer maintain a ‘them and us’ mentality if we are to succeed. We cannot deliver the best for patients alone but neither can our healthcare partners, so we must work together closely. 

What are your passions outside of work?

With a three-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son, my passions are changing nappies and sleeping, as well as spending as much time with the kids and my partner Katie as possible. The only exception is my lifetime passion for Liverpool Football Club, a lifelong and very committed relationship. 

How did it feel to win the recent PharmaTimes award?

I’m surprised and delighted to win the Aspiring Marketer of the Year award. The move into marketing is a big opportunity for me to really develop, but also to really make a difference for patients, which is a very powerful motivator for me personally.

Why are you interested in moving into marketing?

I have always wanted to work in marketing because it seemed to hold so many good challenges. Celgene is a great organisation and there are always plenty of opportunities to expand your horizons and seek out innovative approaches.

What do you feel you bring to the new role?

For me, being a good communicator is essential. In analytics, you can have all the data in the world but you have to fluently communicate as well. With the RBM role and in marketing, communications skills are incredibly valuable. This feels like the common thread running through my career. 

Matt Callaghan is regional business manager for the Celtic region at Celgene.