“I never feel like I’m not learning and growing”
After graduating with a finance degree, Harry Foster was one of the first employees to join STEM in the US. He cut his teeth as a business analyst, before transitioning into project management.
Within six years of coming to STEM, he was a project director and is now Director of Analytics and Operations for North America.
It was really exciting to come out of university and be in a role that was more than the job description.
At that time, STEM was just starting out and a lot of roles were not yet fully defined, we all wore a lot of different hats. It was a real challenge but a fantastic opportunity to grow and develop quickly, and that’s what’s kept me here – I never feel like I’m not learning and growing. There’s no end in sight, the ceiling just gets higher and that’s true for everyone who comes here.
I was the first project director without a pharma background.
I spent four years as an analyst – finding the trends and key elements in the data, to support recommendations for the client, to improve their teams and products. I was then given the opportunity to become our first project manager in the US, working directly with clients, running their projects from end to end, making sure we met their needs and that we were capturing the right data to provide valuable insights to support them.
After a couple of years in that role, I’d built up considerable experience of the pharma industry and expertise in our services, moving into the project director role, selling our business and overseeing project delivery to the clients.
Because I’ve been in their shoes, I see things from my team’s perspective.
Having worked my way up and having experienced those different roles, I’m able to relate and connect more easily with the people who report to me. That helps make me a better leader because I’ve been there – I can help them achieve their individual goals and be successful.
We’re not as small as we were, but there continue to be opportunities.
We’re growing rapidly and are now up to 40-plus in North America. It’s been an incredible journey and I’m not sure where else I would have had the experiences I have. We still have the mentality of promoting from within despite the growth. No doubt there’s a hard learning curve because we’re such a unique company with a unique offering, but once you get around that curve, you become a fantastic asset and have all the support you need to grow.
The people here are fantastic and do well because they’re go-getters and highly driven. The pharma and healthcare industries move at a rapid pace, which means we do too. That said, there’s a real honesty and transparency – people will always help and support each other. It’s a brilliant culture to be part of.
It’s satisfying to recognise the impact our work has.
Although what we do is a few steps removed from patients, it’s a great feeling to deliver robust, valuable insights to our clients and understand how that improves their teams, which ultimately has an impact on patients’ lives. I get a lot of satisfaction from that.