How do I get into a career that involves both science and commerce? This was the question at the front of Laura Haycock’s mind at high school. A degree in biochemistry provided her with an answer and a pathway into the world of pharmaceuticals.
Laura recalls, “At school I recall writing an essay for biology class on stem cell therapy and being blown away by the possibilities of future medical advances. I was pretty certain at that point at some combination of science, technology and commercial application was where I wanted to get to.”
So at university she first chose a mix of science and commerce papers with the idea that she could find a way to combine the two at some point. In her second year, she started to really enjoy learning about biochemistry, and science pushed commerce aside for the time being.
“Learning about the world of proteins and DNA was somehow imaginative (how these tiny molecules invisible to the naked eye could have such an impact) as well as being factual and evidence-based.”
“As I learned and understood more, I enjoyed the biochemistry papers more, so I think the third year papers were probably my favourites. It all started to make a lot more sense with more real-life applications, and we had a smaller, more intimate group so got to know our classmates better. With more dedicated time with each lecturer we also got to know them, and they us, which was a real privilege given all of their accolades.”
Although she graduated with a degree majoring in biochemistry, Laura hadn’t forgotten about her interest in the commercial side of things. Her next step was a Master’s degree where she studied science research commercialisation, including an exchange to the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Fully equipped with education in science and commerce, and hooked on exploring Europe further, Laura entered the world of the big pharmaceutical companies. She spent seven years based in London, working in consulting firms on healthcare pricing and reimbursement strategies for Big Pharma clients.
“During my time in London I travelled all over Europe and the US for business and for holidays, and worked with global heads at many of the leading global pharmaceutical companies. I absolutely loved forming connections with colleagues and clients from all over.”
Now back in Auckland, New Zealand, Laura has a position at Roche, a Swiss pharmaceutical company with a huge global footprint. She works as a Franchise Access Lead, where she helps to ensure New Zealand patients are able to access Roche medicines.
Laura still relies on her education from the Department of Biochemistry on a daily basis.
“Problem-solving, critical and analytical thinking, and knowledge of research methods are foundational, transferable skills I use every day, and I developed these skills during my formative years studying biochemistry at Otago.”