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CRA Academy celebrates 1,000 graduates

Although many contract research organizations (CROs) only hire experienced, clinical research associate (CRA) professionals with at least two years of previous monitoring experience, PPD makes a point to also hire entry-level CRAs to develop high-potential professionals and expand our CRA talent pool.

With the completion of the most recent class in July 2020, PPD’s CRA Academy has now prepared more than 1,000 graduates to successfully support our clients’ clinical trials.

Enoh Ughanze joined the CRA Academy in 2017.

Through the years, PPD’s CRA Academy has given entry-level CRAs the opportunity to develop and grow within PPD, transforming them into highly qualified CRAs who are in demand globally. Enoh Ughanze joined the CRA Academy in 2017 and noted shortly after graduating that she was, “more grounded in the knowledge and application of clinical research tenets; could identify [her] strengths and weaknesses; and felt empowered to reach out to the trainers and peers.”

The CRA Academy positions its graduates for continued professional success. Many graduates have progressed through the CRA career ladder, including line management positions. Some have moved into project delivery positions such as a clinical team manager (CTM) or a project manager (PM). Others have transitioned into roles in various departments across the company including pharmacovigilance, site intelligence and activation (SIA), global clinical supplies, clinical data management and early development, as well as monitoring positions for functional service partnership (FSP) projects.

“My success and positive outlook stems from the employee-centered and conducive work environment that PPD creates,” said Enoh, a senior CRA I working within an FSP role as a sole CRA for North America. “Training received, project experiences, contributions and support of managers serve as both material and tool that continue to elevate my career from the solid foundation of the CRA Academy.”

Another Academy graduate, Shannon Ward, senior CRA for EMEA noted, “What I found most helpful about the CRA Academy was the scenario-based sections. Those really helped me prepare for the challenging situations that you can be faced with on site.”

Starting the program in 2013 was a game-changing decision. At the time, it was not clear that our clients would accept entry-level CRAs on their projects. But many at PPD believed in the concept, including Jan-Maarten Kroodsma, senior director of clinical management. Jan-Maarten provided the initial vision for the program and guided the team in the early years with his enthusiasm and expertise.

“What a huge contribution to PPD, bringing all these talented people to our workforce, while offering them great growth opportunities,” said Jan-Maarten, proud of the program’s success.

Graduates are proven winners and game changers – as evidenced by their achievements. Academy CRAs have earned PharmaTimes Clinical Researcher of the Year finalist, bronze, silver and gold awards as well as multiple PPD Peak Performance Team awards, all in their first years after graduation. 

Rachael Beatty graduated from the academy in October 2014. Her preparation and learning gave her the opportunity to explore the management track and determine the career path that best suits her life and interests.

“I was promoted to CTM in October 2019 with the same client who accepted me as a brand new CRA,” said Rachael. “It has been an incredible opportunity, and I have learned a lot. But most of all, what I learned is that I love the CRA role.”

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