We sit down with Heather Wellam (Senior Consultant – Market Access) to learn more about her work managing global market access, pricing and strategy projects. Heather shares how her work involves helping Pharma and Medtech companies to navigate complex and evolving healthcare systems to achieve market access. Having recently returned from maternity leave, Heather also shares her experience of rejoining the Mtech Access team in a post-pandemic world.
What brought you into a career in Market Access?
After I completed my studies in Biomedical Science at the University of Manchester I wanted to find a career that was related to science, and would use my natural research skills. However, I did not want to be based in a laboratory.
Healthcare consultancy attracted me, as it was a confluence of things that I enjoyed; combining clinical evidence and insights to help inform decision-making.
Global market access has been a great career choice for me, as I feel like I am indirectly contributing to bringing valuable medicines to market, by helping clients to communicate the value of their product in the often complex and evolving healthcare systems.
How long have you been with Mtech Access and what’s changed in that time?
I joined Mtech Access in Spring 2020, shortly after the first COVID-19 lockdown. I had just returned from a period of travelling around Australia. The country locked down only a few days after I returned. Since that first lockdown, the most significant change at Mtech Access has been the implementation of a hybrid working policy. This enables employees to have a combination of in-office and remote working days.
From a personal perspective, I recently had my second baby. The hybrid working model has proven the perfect balance to help me manage the logistics of family life, while also having the opportunity to chat with colleagues in-office and face-to-face.
What does a typical week look like in your role?
One of the aspects of my job that I love is the intrinsic variety that it offers. Yet this variety means that it is difficult to describe a typical week, or even month. As a Senior Consultant, I will typically be working on a range of projects. These might include landscape analyses, analogue assessments, value proposition testing, and PRA strategy.
As a result, I could be researching a specific therapy area, designing a methodology to address our clients’ specific challenges, conducting interviews with healthcare decision-makers, analysing evidence and insights, or delivering advice to our clients.
The best thing about the job is that every project has a unique element.
Which projects have you found most interesting?
For me, the projects that are most interesting are those that are fundamentally challenging, and require us to help clients make difficult decisions.
I recently worked on a project for a client that was developing a gene therapy for a rare and life-threatening disease. It was fascinating because it required us to consider the unique, and at times conflicting, perspectives of the different stakeholders:
- For the patient: the product had the potential to be curative and fundamentally life changing
- For the manufacturer: they needed to secure a fair price for the product that covered research and development costs for an inherently small population
- For the healthcare payer: they needed to consider whether the evidence base was sufficient, and whether novel payment methods would help fund a high-price, one-time therapy, where costs were front-loaded
Our job was to combine evidence and insights to help the client to navigate that complex and challenging environment, and ultimately to get the best patient access for their product.
How does Mtech Access compare to other consultancies?
I think Mtech Access has a fantastic culture, with a truly employee-centric approach. I also appreciate the flexible and non-bureaucratic approach, which I think makes us more responsive and able to react to change.
If you could swap your expertise and role with a colleague from another team, who would you swap with?
I think the design and digital development team has the skillset that is furthest from my own, and so it would be fun to swap their expertise. Coding and programming is literally a different language, and it would be great to learn more about that world. I also believe that design is an art, and some are just more naturally visually creative than others.
You mentioned earlier that you went travelling, where did you go and what were your favourite places?
I consider myself incredibly lucky to have travelled across the world and there are many memorable places that I have visited on my gap year, and on other trips. After graduating university I spent time in Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. I also spent a couple of seasons working in ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies and Scottish cairngorms.
Although it is difficult to pick a favourite place, Iceland stands out for its wide-open spaces with volcanoes, glaciers, black beaches, thermal lagoons and waterfalls. We saw the northern lights (aurora borealis) from Thingvellir national park; the swirling splashes of green and blue light dancing in the sky are quite special and something I would recommend for anyone’s bucket list.
Other than travelling, what else do you like to do in your free time?
In my spare time I go to the gym and pool – spin class has always been my favourite to burn off some energy.
I also enjoy spending time with my family. My eldest son is 5 and my daughter is 18 months, and together we enjoy going out for walks, bike rides and picnics.
If you are interested in joining the Mtech Access team, please visit our careers page for details of our current vacancies.