11 Experts Discuss the Leadership Mindset of SOUL

by Staff writer

SOUL stands for bringing a Sense Of Urgency and Leadership to work each day. The SOUL of MMS comes to life as project work is completed on time and as risks and solutions are identified proactively. At MMS, each colleague takes responsibility for the success of every project.

This entrepreneurial spirit shapes the culture of MMS, where every person has the opportunity to lead, no matter their rank or tenure.

“This is a key differentiator from other CROs,” said Dr. Uma Sharma, Chief Scientific Officer, MMS “as it allows colleagues to directly see their contributions in bringing new drugs to market. Additionally, we recognize and value personal aspirations, making employee engagement one of our first priorities.”

Showing SOUL is a trait that MMS was founded on. Those who are successful are able to showcase this drive in all areas of their work. Hear from these global colleagues who bring SOUL every day at MMS:

Creativity as a data scientist

“In my role at MMS, I work as a data scientist on a team with a leading pharmaceutical organization. The term “data science” is somewhat of a misnomer, as the field requires a great bit of creativity. It is truly more of an art, than a science. I push the team to clearly define what problems they are trying to solve, and then I take steps to provide an innovative solution, even if said solution was not an explicit request. Additionally, I push the team to use the latest and greatest technology. This keeps solution delivery efficient, as well as effective, and helps the team to be leaders in the field.” – Richard Bryant, Senior Data Scientist (Canton, Michigan)

Going beyond and taking work out

“I keep my eyes peeled for opportunities where I can make a difference and act upon it – be that to a colleague’s workday or to a process. For instance, I take the initiative to not just being another passive backup to my in-office colleague when on vacation. In those instances, I’ve taken a leadership role to continuing creation of her ADaM specs and sorting out specification related issues. In a non-study example, I have been able to bring some automation (through a macro) in terms of adding and modifying footnotes – thereby reducing the amount of manual work needed by the programmer.” – Japie Lowings, Senior Biostatistician (Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Love what you do

“I always try to get a grasp on each of my activities in totality before setting out to perform them. In the case of recruitment, for instance, I first do a detailed study of the skills and business needs required for open positions. This allows me to source the exact profiles and make quick judgements. Similarly for enrollments related to MMS University, I talk with prospective students in depth to understand their background and aspirations, then work to map MMSU courses with their exact needs. I have found that this builds trust and has subsequently increased enrollment. The key aspect in these examples is the willingness to take full ownership of the tasks assigned, prioritize all activities, and play a lead role through completion. It all boils down to the passion that you exhibit at work – you must love what you do.  SOUL has allowed me to realize my potential, resulting in added responsibilities.” – Sulakshana Nithyakanth, Recruiter (Bangalore, India)

Open communication developed a new role

“For me, SOUL is participating in the improvement of the technical performance of my department, being alert to potential risk, working with my colleagues to evaluate and communicate the best options for mitigation in timely manner, and being willing to sacrifice my own time and plans when urgent issues arise. I also work to forge open lines of communication, to provide unbiased assessments and recommendations for improvement, and to maintain an approachable demeanor that invites questions and discussion. This has led to the development of a new role, one that bridges management and principal writer responsibilities and allows me to provide input in an advisory capacity. It also allows me to take on tasks necessary to the improvement of our functional line, while still supporting diverse and challenging regulatory writing projects.” – Amanda Beaster, PhD, Senior Technical Manager, Regulatory and Medical Writing (Canton, Michigan)

Focusing on the greater good

“Being a programmer, it is really about thinking, programming, and focusing on the details of the work, with a project-oriented attitude. Keeping first things first, I like to initiate the real actions for every task early to lead others down the best path. SOUL keeps me moving forward and allows me to help grow the company. Individuals by themselves are not always enough to accomplish new drug development and submissions, but each of us playing a tiny role in the whole process can effectively bring many new drugs to market. As long as I give my very best to my role and help others utilize the philosophy of SOUL, we have and will continue to do great things at MMS.” – Jenny Qiao, MA, Principal Clinical Programmer (Canton, Michigan)

Asking questions at every step

“I show a sense of urgency and leadership by asking questions and not taking everything at face-value or because that’s how it was done. This includes, standard processes and making suggestions, where applicable. In my first month at MMS, a study was transitioned to me. I did not simply continue with the work as per the to-do list, setup by my predecessor, but re-evaluated and re-prioritized the entire study and tasks that needed to occur. I am also very open to suggestions, which I think ensures that the best available approach is always taken.  In the end, we should not make everything or anything about us, but focus on the end goal and inspire and motivate those around us to do the same.” – Louise van Aswegen, Senior Biostatistician (Bloemfontein, South Africa)

Organize and prioritize

I view my work as an opportunity to learn something new. This means not being afraid to ask questions or accept feedback. I started at MMS as a Research Associate and with the SOUL mindset, I quickly learned that in order to excel in my role, I have to be organized and prioritize the work that is given to me. In a support role, my days aren’t always predictable. While planning ahead is helpful, I am ready for an unexpected task to arise. I view this as a challenge and another way to grow and continuously manage my responsibilities. When a new role opens up at MMS, I apply the SOUL philosophy to try my best to understand the gap and assess applicants. Timing is very important in the job seeking process. I always keep this in mind and try to get candidates through the hiring process as quickly and efficiently as possible.” – McKenzie Kuzich, Human Resource Associate (Canton, Michigan)

Proper planning and active involvement

“Proper planning prevents poor performance – I truly believe in this. Planning and prioritizing can help alleviate workplace stress and increase productivity. To me, SOUL is being innovative to reduce the work and having a ready-made backup plan to address any issues as they arise during the course of the project. This will prevent delays in the deliverables. If you keep focused and stay actively involved with each phase of the project, every member of the team will work together to produce the best possible results. This is the definition of leadership at every level to me.” – Vidya Ramakrishna, Regulatory Operations Associate (Bangalore, India)

Having difficult conversations

“SOUL means taking my role to the next level to ensure final deliverables are not only accurate in terms of the content and harmonized for style, but also sound from a scientific and regulatory perspective. Recently, I was tasked with completing a content transfer to different document templates. However, upon review of the submission documents provided by the sponsor, I identified multiple gaps. Explaining that their documentation was not submission-ready was not an easy message to deliver. With tight timelines, a careful plan was laid out to address the deficiencies. It took a great deal of effort to collect the necessary source documents and rewrite the submission. Close collaboration and open communication were an important part of this project. In the end, we made certain that the submission was strong, supported by data and compliant with current regulatory requirements.” – Margaret Studzinska, Medical Writer (Canton, Michigan)

Being self-motivated and accountable

“On a daily basis, it is important to lead by example by being self-motivated, passionate, and enjoying the responsibility and challenges that we encounter in the evolving pharmaceutical industry. Practicing SOUL at work means understanding the purpose of a project, prioritizing, planning, communicating with the core team, and ensure we all are working toward the same goal to achieve the best results. Making decisions and being accountable for is of the utmost importance. SOUL has led me from being a seeker to a mentor, which has had a significant impact on my career.” – Raksha Srinivas, Regulatory Operations Associate (Bangalore, India)

Embracing the unexpected

“For me, the best days in the programming group are when the unexpected happens. The unexpected influences priorities, not only for me but for others on the team. It provides an excitement that forces us to be creative in order to meet the client’s needs and to juggle competing priorities. On a daily basis we strive to provide the best product that we can while at the same time looking to exceed expectations. Part of the job as a leader is to not only see the challenge in what we do, but to also motivate the team to meet those challenges.” – Kelly Williams, Principal Clinical Programmer (Canton, Michigan)

Everyone can be a leader at MMS with the SOUL mindset. How do you show your SOUL?

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