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Associate Statistician to Biostatistics Training Manager

Employee Nicola Barker, training manager, biostatistics/programming, discusses her career progression at PPD.

Why did you decide to join PPD?

I first heard of PPD while studying for my master of science in statistics with applications in medicine at the University of Southampton. For me it was the perfect job opportunity, both in terms of the scope of experience to be gained and the location where the office was based.

Can you give us an outline of your PPD career path to date?

I joined PPD in 2006 as an associate statistician. I progressed up the career ladder, reaching the level of biostatistics team leader in April 2014, with numerous lead statistician and biostatistics project lead roles undertaken in that time.

I always enjoyed the training aspect of my role, in particular via the mentoring and line management of new starters. I was also very interested in process improvement and got involved in non-project initiatives wherever I could.

In November 2015, I was lucky enough to receive the opportunity to travel out to our Bengaluru, India, office and provide some training to the team there for three weeks, mainly focusing on the reality of working as a statistician and biostatistics project lead at PPD.

This opportunity really emphasized to me that it was something I wanted to do permanently and full-time. In April 2016, I moved into the role of principal trainer as a part of the global training team. I am now a training manager and over the past few years have enjoyed seeing our global training team expand in size, coverage, out-reach, impact and skills!

What do you do in your current role?

I work with different subject-matter experts to organize, generate, maintain and share training materials and documentation in their area of expertise, ensuring that the content we have is current and of high quality. I am lead of the on-boarding and continued development committee and each month update our training reference index, which details our available training materials and documentation. I am also a member of our procedural management committee and have a role in standard operating procedure related discussions. Finally, I am involved in global discussions regarding our training strategy and priorities.

What have been the important factors, that have made you want to develop your career at PPD rather than elsewhere?

I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work in a role where I feel passion and enthusiasm every single day. This was made possible via the experiences I have been exposed to and the relationships I have picked up along the way.

I really enjoy having the time to work on those things that we all know need to be done, but do not have the time to do when working on projects. Working globally, it is so important we all have a consistent understanding of everything we do. There is a huge amount of material out there, and it is great to be a part of pulling it all together, improving it and making it available to all.

I have always been a “people person” and enjoy working with others. In my current role, I love that I have opportunities to work with people at all levels, from brand new associates to senior management, all around the world. I now feel much more of a global employee. I am interacting with all regions and building global relationships every day.

Recently, I have converted from office-based to home-based. This has been a very welcomed change after many years of a long commute.

What would you say differentiates PPD from other CROs?

PPD is my only experience within the industry, so I have no comparison base, but I can say that PPD has given me what I have needed and more through my career to date. It is a great place to work, and I cannot imagine having better colleagues or opportunities. In my current role, I see all the effort that goes on behind the scenes and get a strong sense of how much care and attention to detail there is.

To learn more about career opportunities in our biostatistics and programming with PPD, visit www.ppd.com/careers to view opportunities across our global regions.