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Home Days in the Life

A Day in the Life: Dr. Jennifer Leeds, Executive Director and Head of Antibacterial Discovery, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, Inc.

6:00 a.m.: Check e-mails from home prior to leaving for work. Since I work on the West Coast of the United States, and many of my colleagues are on the East Coast or in Switzerland, they are well into, or have nearly completed, their work day. Therefore I typically wake up to 25–50 e-mail messages, meeting invites, and document review requests. I try to attend to the time-sensitive ones before I leave for work.

7:00 a.m.: Teleconference with global project team to review target product profile (time of meeting dictated by attendance of colleagues across multiple time zones). Here, we discuss the overarching goals of the project, what we hope to have achieved when our product launches, and how we can support the claims that we anticipate to be in our drug label.

8:00 a.m.: Teleconference with operational support team to plan health authority (Food and Drug Administration/European Medical Agency) submissions. There are strict guidelines for submitting documents to these agencies, so we need to make sure that all documents have been checked for accuracy and adhere to the agency guidelines before we finalize and sign off on them.

8:30 a.m.: Video chat with chemistry colleagues to discuss strategy. I regularly meet with my geographically distant colleagues by video chat to discuss projects and strategy, and just to catch up with old friends.

10:00 a.m.: Leadership team meeting. We meet regularly to discuss strategy, resources, budget, decision points, etc., across our local organization. This meeting allows the senior leadership to check in with each other, make sure we are on track for success, and to discuss issues that arise so that we can deal with them in a timely fashion, and with input and feedback across the group.

12:00 p.m.: Working lunch with group leaders to discuss external opportunities. This meeting focuses on what is going on in the external environment (other pharma, biotech, academic community), and whether we are interested in a particular program and want to have a discussion with another group to identify a potential external opportunity for partnering or in-licensing.

1:00 p.m.: Catch up on e-mails, read a scientific paper, have a cup of coffee.

2:00 p.m.: Meet with chemists and biologists to discuss a potential new project. This meeting is a follow up to an earlier discussion about starting a new program where the individual meeting attendees were given action items, and now are able to present the results of their explorations. The outcome of the meeting is a decision to either pursue this new project or terminate further activities.

3:00 p.m.: Meeting to discuss performance issues. This meeting was called to address concerns regarding the performance and behaviors of an individual. The direct and dotted-line managers discussed the issues with the individual and set an action plan to improve the performance through coaching and other methods of feedback.

4:00 p.m.: Call my kids and check on their day at school, discuss dinner plans and other details with the babysitter. Make upcoming dentist appointment.

4:30 p.m.: Meeting to discuss revision of a manuscript. This meeting consists of senior authors and the medical writing team who gather to address the reviewer criticisms of a manuscript that was submitted for publication.

5:30 p.m.: Prepare for off-site advisory board meeting. I spend time in my office gathering documents, reviewing slides, confirming travel arrangements, and preparing to meet with external advisors.

6:30 p.m.: Gather scientific papers to read in bed, pack up things, and head for home.

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