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Career Perspectives: A Conversation with Veronica Chan

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In this edition of the Career Perspectives series, I spoke with Veronica Chan, Principal Clinical Data Manager at Cytel. Veronica is based in Singapore and is a critical part of Cytel’s Data Management global group. In this interview, we learn about her professional journey, her insights on the data management function and its challenges, and the necessary qualifications to work at Cytel.

Can you share a bit about your career background and what motivated you to choose clinical data management as your domain?

After completing my degree in IT, I started my career as a Clinical Data Manager. Being part of a clinical research team was an eye-opening experience for me, as I gained new insights on how drug development changes lives. I had the opportunity to join Cytel in 2020 when the company was expanding to the Asia-Pacific region. Knowing Cytel’s reputation as the largest provider of statistical software and advanced analytics for clinical trial design and execution, it was an easy decision to join this exciting family.


What is your role at Cytel and what do you like best about it?


I am a Principal Data Manager at Cytel. There are many growth opportunities available to me in different therapeutic areas. In my current role, I get to lead projects and support other data managers. Cytel provides endless opportunities for learning!


What combination of knowledge, skills, and technical competencies are needed to thrive in Cytel Data Management?


One needs to have analytical skills, project management skills to manage timelines, and good communication skills to interact with the various internal departments and with our clients. We also expect the team to anticipate challenges, be proactive in raising concerns, and make good suggestions to stakeholders. Most importantly, you need to have the willingness to learn, and be curious and enthusiastic, as there are so many ways to learn and grow at Cytel.


You worked at a pharmaceutical company for over 15 years. What are some of the challenges you’ve seen sponsors face with data management? How have we addressed these challenges at Cytel?


There is a lack of skilled resources in the industry, and data management is a critical function for faster drug development.


During a challenging COVID-19 vaccine project in Asia, the setup had to be completed in 6 weeks; the usual timeline is 8-12 weeks. Cytel’s solution was to assign a strong lead data manager who could work with the sponsor effectively to discuss and resolve the challenges. We also used our resources that are spread globally, so that the project activities could be efficiently carried out.


At Cytel, we follow an integrated project management approach where our biostatisticians, programmers and data managers work closely with each other. How do you think early collaboration with biostatisticians and statistical programmers benefits our clients?


Different domains have different perspectives of looking at data, although we share the same goal. Since the biostatisticians and statistical programmers are the ones who process and analyse the data, it is important to involve them early on so that our perspectives are aligned. During the setup phase, the biostatistician provides another set of eyes and gives inputs on the eCRF design and Data Validation Specification. This ensures that what is being captured is aligned to what needs to be analyzed. For the conduct phase, getting them to look at the data early on helps to identify any peculiar data that may have an impact on the final analysis. If not corrected at the onset, such data issues may jeopardize the final timelines and can be costly.


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We are so excited about Cytel’s ongoing expansion in the APAC region. How do you envision Cytel growing in this market?

I envision Cytel’s continuous investment in establishing its footprint in the APAC countries and in growing the talent pool. I hope to have more opportunities to work with the APAC biopharma customers.

What advice would you give to younger women just starting out in clinical data management?

My advice is to approach the first job as an opportunity to get your feet wet, and do not stop learning. Clinical data management can be highly challenging at times as well as very rewarding. Working on the development of a new drug and then seeing it make it to the market and used to treat people is a great feeling.

What are your main interests outside of work?

I love to exercise, including Zumba, Pilates, HIIT, cycling, and my favorites -- yoga and Barre. Sometimes, I teach yoga to my co-workers!

I also enjoy cooking and baking with my 9-year-old son. Although it pretty much guarantees a big mess in the kitchen, it creates a great opportunity to bond with him.

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Thank you for taking the time to talk to us and sharing your journey.

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At Cytel, we invite a diversity of perspectives and draw on a variety of talents to create a wealth of possibilities. Click the button to learn about the opportunities at Cytel.

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