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Grace Powers

Ratinder Dhami

Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Quality
Network Partners
Carrollton, Texas (USA)

RAC holder since 2009

 

How did you get into a regulatory career? What do you like about regulatory affairs?

It’s sort of a funny and unique story. First, I had no idea what regulatory affairs was. I was doing my undergraduate degree in microbiology, and although I had figured out that Microbiologists could work in pharmaceutical companies doing environmental monitoring, I did not know anyone in such a career field—or even anyone that worked at a pharmaceutical company.
 
During third year of my undergraduate degree, I got worried I would not be able to find a job after I graduated. So, I started doing some research and found a summer intern position at a microbiology lab at Novopharm (now Teva Pharmaceuticals) that summer. I wrote a cover letter explaining why I hoped to pursue a career in microbiology, and specifically in the pharmaceutical industry. Miraculously, I was called for an interview and offered the position!
 
When I started, I quickly realized I was the only person there who had been selected without a parent working at the company and became incredibly grateful for the opportunity. During this summer, every day on my way to the lab, I would walk past these double doors that read “Regulatory Affairs,” and it seemed like important people were there. So, I decided to research what it was and what I needed to do to pursue that career field. The following year, upon graduation from my undergrad, I was accepted into a regulatory affairs graduate certificate program that included an internship—and that is really where my journey into the field of regulatory affairs started.
 
There are so many great facets of regulatory affairs that are overlooked. What attracted me from the beginning was the impact this career field has on numerous therapeutic areas and being able to play a part in bringing those therapies to market to make a significant impact on people’s lives. Everyone on the team has the same singular goal, and it is incredibly interesting how we work to bring the next generation into the fold. Whereas, I almost found regulatory affairs by chance, there is now a program being accredited in 2021 (the Network Partners Regulatory Affairs Apprentice Leadership Program) that creates an entry to the industry for junior-level professionals.
 

What is a typical day like for you?

In my current role, I am privileged to have the opportunity to strategize and play a part in developing products and services that have a meaningful impact on not only the field of regulatory affairs, but also in the lives of individuals that share a passion and excitement for this profession.
 
A typical day at Network Partners involves speaking with industry leaders, both in the regulatory and quality fields of the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, to understand what today’s industry demands of skills that are needed to be sought and developed for entry level and early career (less than five years) RA/QA professionals.
 
Because this is a heavy focus in my role, Network Partners started a one-of-a-kind Professional Regulatory Affairs Apprentice Program to meet the needs of our clients. Through this program, we train future regulatory leaders who enter the field on day one and hit the ground running. It is incredibly rewarding to see these young professionals begin their careers, and the impact we are having on their lives. The program has come full circle, reminding me of how I started on my career path and all those who helped me along the way.
 

What motivated you to pursue the RAC certification?

I wrote the RAC early in my career (three years in) and had heard that people usually write it multiple times prior to passing. Therefore, although I thought I might not pass the first time, I felt it was important and the right time to pursue this internationally recognized certification in regulatory affairs because I believed this certification would take my career to the next level. The RAC was a great way to demonstrate the skills and strategic insight I had gained and my ability to apply regulations.
 
Looking back now, I realize my work at a consulting company acted as the cornerstone of my industry experience to be able to write this exam. During my time with the consulting company, I had the opportunity to work for multiple different companies, submissions types, products, etc. This accelerated my learning in the field and helped me write this exam early and pass the first time.
 
Again coming full circle, I’ve been able to take my experience and bottle it with the Regulatory Affairs Professional Apprentice Program, re-creating the ideal environment that helped me accelerate my career—where young professionals are getting an opportunity to work for multiple different companies, submissions, and product types, that will help them receive their RAC around or under the three-year mark. Realizing the impact and the journey that we could set these individuals on makes each day meaningful.
 

Please share a story of how your experience earning your RAC and/or your membership in RAPS helped you while tackling a specific business issue.

 
My membership with RAPS has been instrumental in networking and getting to know both young regulatory professionals and industry leaders. Regulatory affairs is so niche, and it’s important to have this platform for communication and exchanging thoughts and ideas with other experts in the field. RAPS international recognition is a unique place within our profession for individuals to connect and help each other. Over the years, numerous people have reached out through RAPS to get advice on their career path or looking for services or just connecting as thought partners. This is a great community that I believe everyone in the regulatory affairs profession benefits from throughout their careers.
 

What steps would you recommend to someone thinking about achieving certification?

As you begin your journey, I recommend you first speak to other regulatory affairs professionals to get an understanding of the field. If this is the career path for you, then consider if you want to begin your career path in quality or regulatory. It’s important to learn the product development lifecycle and is crucial for a successful career in regulatory.
 
To be ready to write the certification, you want to make sure you have had the opportunity to work on multiple products types, submission types, cross-functional teams, and even different companies. You want to gain a diverse experience to help round out your understanding and expertise. If you’re truly entry-level, the Regulatory Affairs Professional Apprentice Program will give you that experience needed to succeed.
 
As you begin your career or are well into your career, realize the importance of building and sustaining professional relationships—you never know when or where you will cross paths again. Although I started my career not knowing anyone in the pharmaceutical industry or in regulatory affairs, through RAPS and outside, I have been fortunate to have had great leaders who have been willing to teach and mentor me along the way.  I strongly recommend talking to key industry leaders and finding inspiring mentors. We are all here to help build the next generation of regulatory leaders, and any small part we can play is monumental for the future of our industry.




 
 
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