Overlooking Lake Neuchâtel at the foot of the Swiss Alps, lies the city of Boudry, a picture-perfect location that attracts a diverse workforce from around the world. Some, like the 1,000 or so Bristol Myers Squibb employees, come to Boudry to do some of the most meaningful work of their careers, and in a variety of critical roles. Romain Piault, Senior Manager, Biostatistics, and Marina Arias Parro, Senior Global Trial Manager, are among just two of the more than 50 nationalities at BMS Boudry. Both are key members of BMS's Global Drug Development organization which oversees several important stages of the drug life cycle, including regulatory, biostatistics, operations and clinical sciences. Like many of their colleagues, Romain and Marina have enjoyed thriving careers while helping meet some of BMS’s most pressing therapeutic challenges.
Different Journeys Toward Analyzing Data
Romain, who already had a PhD in biology, decided to pursue a degree in statistics, earning a master of science degree in that field. He realized that research in a strictly academic setting didn’t provide enough collaboration or opportunities to advance his statistical expertise.
“As a biologist, I enjoyed doing statistical analysis and interpreting the results of the data models,” he explained. “But I wanted to have more interaction and collaboration with other professionals in statistics. Because in academic research, you often work solo and have limited time or knowledge to be able to critically assess the validity of your statistical analyses.”
So, he made the move to the private sector where he found work that aligned with his aspirations.
Before joining BMS, Romain worked in biostatistics at a nearby multinational corporation. A former manager from a competitor of that company who had joined BMS a few years before approached him and proposed he come to Boudry to work on biostatistics for the CAR T cell therapy team. What impressed him the most initially was the chance to work in a groundbreaking scientific field that was directly impacting the lives of people fighting cancer.
“He explained that BMS had a product that attacks cancer using the patients’ own blood cells,” he said. “I had no idea that the technology was at this level and that was tremendously exciting.”
Marina’s career journey began in her native Spain, where she earned her PharmD degree. Knowing that being a pharmacist wasn’t something she wanted to do for the rest of her life, but having a strong desire to help people, she studied clinical trial management with the goal to work in biopharma. “It’s the one thing I had clear since the beginning,” she said.
After doubling up by working at a hospital while earning her master's degree, Marina entered the private sector as a global clinical researcher, an invaluable experience that brought her to France and the UK. She eventually joined BMS, via the merger with Celgene, as a global trial manager in early development — initially in Spain, then Switzerland.
Patient-Centric, Life-Changing Work
While not directly involved with patients, both Romain and Marina through their respective roles know what they do makes a difference in people’s lives.
Working with the CAR T cell therapy team, Romain discovered a convergence between his knowledge of biostatistics and actual patient outcomes — working with patient data to analyze the safety and efficacy of a potentially life-transforming drug. Often it meant looking at data that goes back years, and understanding the human impact and the long haul a cancer patient sometimes has to face during their treatment. With CAR T patients in particular, who are often in later stages of their condition, embracing this connection between his work and the patient experience continues to inspire and motivate him.
“When I see, for instance, a patient has had 12 lines of therapies since their diagnosis and how it affected this person — I understand that there is suffering. So, if with CAR T we can optimize the treatment and maintain efficacy and tolerability, that would be a really great feeling.”
Coming from early development where successful outcomes could seem a long way off along a patient’s treatment journey, Marina shares Romain’s view of what her job ultimately means to her.
“Sometimes it’s difficult because we’re working on phase one. The best reason I do it is because I’m still helping people. Maybe not directly but working in a way that hopefully in the future will make people’s lives better.”
A Culture of Growth Opportunities in Switzerland
For Swiss citizen Romain, coming to BMS Boudry was more about experiencing a supportive and fulfilling workplace culture. He enjoys being part of a larger team of CAR T statisticians, trial managers and study directors, all working closely together in what he calls an open environment, crucial for scientific study and exploration.
“From pre-clinical to phase four, we are in communication every day, posing questions and coming up with answers. We’re also working with data managers and with outside physicians who we bring in from time to time.”
Marina brought her experience working in Spain, France and the UK, and was able to come to Switzerland thanks to an agreement between Switzerland and European Union member countries. Her experience prepared her for Switzerland, and the supportive culture at BMS Boudry continues to prepare her for her career growth.
“The values and the opportunities that BMS offers help make you a better person, personally and professionally. My manager is always asking me, ‘What are your next steps? How do you want to continue to learn and grow?’ And since I started, I have been learning a lot day by day and month by month, and last year was promoted to a senior position. BMS is a great place to further your career.”
Ground-breaking Roles Await at BMS Boudry
Romain and Marina are just two BMS colleagues who have come to Boudry to experience meaningful and interesting work, and in what some might regard an enviable location — a modern, environmentally-responsible facility in the heart of Europe. We offer exciting careers in various global roles, all of which share a common mission to transform the lives of patients. Learn more about BMS Boudry and explore the open roles here.