International Women’s Day is especially important to Panacea as our amazing workforce is more than 80% female. In this article, some of our female staff based in our Isle of Man office talk about why they like working for Panacea:
Panacea may be a relatively small company in the world of pharmaceutical service providers but its bespoke and unique service makes for a much larger helping hand. Providing services to the pharmaceutical industry primarily throughout Europe and the UK, this business specialises in pharmacovigilance – or drug safety.
For Anne Dougherty, Operations Director, finding a role in pharmacovigilance on the Isle of Man was a dream come true. ‘I’ve always been interested in medicine and people. The opportunity to learn more about medicines, how they work, what impact that has on the person and their lifestyle, and to feel like you can make a difference is very appealing.’ Having completed a degree in biochemistry at Aberystwyth University followed by a post-graduate diploma in pharmacovigilance, Anne took the leap to the Isle of Man in 2002 to eventually settle into her job with Panacea in 2009, at the time that the company was formed. She says: ‘When I moved there was no pharmacovigilance here on the island, my first role was for a local regulatory affairs company. There I met Stuart Colligon, who was behind the creation and set up of Panacea. I was excited to get back to pharmacovigilance because it’s something I love. It’s one of those jobs where once you’ve got the bug, it is with you for life. I’m very passionate about it and feel very lucky to be able to move to the Isle of Man and do what I wanted to do and had studied to do.’
Anne wasn’t sure what career she wanted to follow after completing her degree but was interested in joining the pharmaceutical industry to work with medicines and have some impact on patients. ‘I saw a job for pharmacovigilance, didn’t know what it was, phoned up and that was it. As soon as I found out what it was, I thought “I have to do this, this sounds like the most amazing job ever”.’
Moving to the Isle of Man is one of the best decisions she’s made, Anne says. ‘I’ve got two children and I just love our life here and the balance you get. It’s a really nice way to live. Before I moved here, I was commuting around the M25 and I woke up one morning and thought “What am I doing?” I need to be on the Isle of Man.’
Panacea can be described as delivering a ‘bespoke and agile service’, as Anne says. ‘There’s a number of companies like ours out there across the world. We are relatively small in comparison to lots but we’re quite niche. We concentrate on quality and relationships. We see ourselves as being part of the clients’ teams. It has had its challenges being on the Isle of Man but the world feels like it’s getting smaller and smaller, and since Covid, we have a larger number of people working remotely as well.’
Panacea has 28 women working within the company, some of whom work from home or part-time, which reflects the state of the industry. ‘It is heavily female oriented. There’s quite a lot of administration and organisation behind the role and I don’t know whether that’s what drives that. As a company we are quite family-friendly and flexible and I think that appeals to people.’ The most important part of Anne’s job, in her words, is helping others. Imparting knowledge and ensuring people feel comfortable in what they’re doing is paramount. ‘I love training people and I really love seeing someone develop; it really makes me tick to see someone else progress and learn new things. We love being able to employ people on the island. Seeing a graduate come through and make their way up the ranks is really satisfying.’
Pharmacovigilance is for those with an interest in medicine and patient safety, it often involves report writing and an element of administration so requires a good eye for detail. ‘It’s one of those jobs where you can go as far as you like with it. You can come and simply process cases and that can be the end of it or you can be out there with doctors and clients. There are so many directions you can go. It’s one of those jobs you can really make your own and do whatever you like with it. It’s just about having that passion and exploring the opportunities.’
Case processing manager Nikki Cleator agrees. ‘I’ve been here since the beginning so I started as a pharmacovigilance assistant and worked my way up. We always say to people there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Nobody’s too busy to help you.’
Meanwhile, Loni Challis, who started with Panacea as a junior safety scientist only a month ago feels the office is incredibly welcoming. ‘It’s a great team and we work really well together. We’re all really interested and passionate about our work.’
Emma Jones adds: ‘I find everyone in the organisation very supportive and that includes out of office activities, whether we’re doing a fell run or a charity competition, everyone’s very supportive. What I enjoy about my role is the variety. Although I am the business and marketing coordinator, I can also get involved in other projects.’
Senior safety scientists Maria Hull and Debbie McHoul also agree. Maria describes the team as ‘immensely supportive’, while Debbie says the management encourages a ‘family feel’, which you wouldn’t find in a larger team.