Tim Luxford, Vice-President of International Operations, spent 15 years at Roche, working in numerous sales and marketing roles and later as senior brand manager in oncology. He joined STEM in 2015.
What attracted you to STEM?
I was familiar with STEM having worked with them when I was the client, and I saw them doing something novel and different – that really interested me. When an opportunity to join came up, it happened at a point in my career where I felt I’d achieved what I needed to achieve for the company I was with. It was the right time.
How has your career here progressed?
I joined as International Project Director, but at the time the business need was for me to be in the UK. In my first year I focused my time on working with clients in the UK, building my knowledge of the STEM service and delivering key projects. But my desire was always to gain experience of international markets.
After 18 months I added the Nordics to my portfolio, so I got the chance to spend 50% of my time in Scandinavia and grow the business there. I then moved into a general manager position covering the Nordics and Benelux and in October 2019 I was promoted to Vice-President of International Operations.
How has STEM supported your development?
Right from the start the leaders at STEM worked with me to understand what I wanted to do and what would work for the business. I’ve never felt pushed or restricted in any way; I’ve been encouraged to take on more responsibility and that was always in line with my development plans.
What makes STEM different to other companies?
No one else really does what we do – they’ve tried – but we’re pretty unique. It’s exciting to work for a company like this. In my experience, when you work in marketing for pharma, you’re working on one brand.
At STEM, you get the chance to work across multiple companies and therapy areas and engage with senior leaders in industry working on a range of blockbuster brands. You’re privy to their strategy and that’s a privileged position to be in. I now get to work with these teams, supporting the strategic approach of a lot of the big brands across the world.
What can new employees expect from STEM in terms of their career development opportunities?
What I’d say to anyone joining now is that we’ve grown rapidly over the last five years – there were about 20 full-time employees when I joined; we now have over 200 employees, plus another approximately 500 freelancers.
We’re still growing, so the opportunities really are endless – as people move up the ladder, leadership and senior leadership roles become available and good people will always be recognised and promoted internally. In fact, there’s a very strong culture of promoting from within, again because we’re unique in the market.
How has the company changed during that growth?
Even though we’ve had this phenomenal growth, we’ve done very well to hang on to a family-feel culture that’s supportive and friendly. That’s not to say it’s not a hard job – and you do have to put the hours in, but there’s a willingness to do that and help each other out.
We also have formal internal training and coaching programmes to help people get up to speed and deliver services more effectively. We also have a new talent-spotting programme in the pipeline.
Finally, what advice do you have for anyone new to STEM or thinking of joining?
A common trait among our people is entrepreneurialism. This is a great place for those who are quick learners, are happy to drive the business forward and can grab opportunities. Those opportunities will be there for you to make the most of. The chance to build your client network among all the top pharma companies across multiple international markets is second to none.
If you can come in and do a good job, you’ll be recognised and supported in the career progression you want.