Colin Hester shares his experiences as a graduate Colin Hester shares his experiences as a graduate

Name Colin Hester

Graduated MPharm Pharmacy

Company GlaxoSmithKline

Occupation Regulatory Advisor and Registered Pharmacist

Since graduating in 2008, Colin Hester completed his pre-registration year working in various pharmaceutical settings. He now lives and works in Ireland as a Regulatory Advisor and Registered Pharmacist for GlaxoSmithKline.

Please tell us how you got your first job after you graduated?

After University I did my pre-registration year, which all pharmacists must complete to register and practice. This was organised by the School and was an excellent introduction to the world of pharmacy. I did seven months in a general hospital, one month in a mental health hospital and four months in a community pharmacy. The roles involved dispensing medication, discussing with patients the best use of their medication and attending ward rounds. I progressed my team working, communication and scientific skills and this experience has proved invaluable as I have progressed in my career.

How has your career developed since then?

After my pre-registration year, I started working with a multinational pharmaceutical company in Ireland in October 2009 in the pharmacovigilance department. Pharmacovigilance is the science of collecting and reviewing of adverse drug reactions to ascertain the safety profile of a medicine. After about six months I was delegated responsibility for all pharmacovigilance activities for the company in Ireland; this involved working with products on the market but also those still in clinical trials. In April 2011, I moved internally to the Regulatory Affairs department, where I have responsibility for the oncology, haematology, psychiatric and anti-infective portfolios. Regulatory Affairs act as the interface between the company and the regulatory authorities to ensure the medicines we supply are of the highest quality, safety and efficacy.

Why did you choose to study at UEA rather than another institution?

The MPharm course at UEA is a very diverse one. It incorporates modules for those aspiring to go into community and hospital pharmacy but also those who are looking to work in the pharmaceutical industry.

What was it like studying pharmacy at UEA?

UEA was a great experience, where I was challenged academically but also had a very active social life! The lecturers were very knowledgeable and helpful. In addition, they have all gained practical experience in the areas in which they teach.

How has your course helped in your career?

The pharmaceutical industry is always looking to recruit more pharmacists, because they have a different educational background to that of any other health care professional or life scientist. Pharmacists learn both how the medicine is manufactured and also what the mechanism of action of the medicine is. This extensive education has meant that I am equally as capable of discussing quality issues with a colleague in a manufacturing site or one of our drug development physicians about the efficacy or safety of a medicine.

What is your most memorable moment at UEA?

After our very last exam, the class sat out on the steps on the square having celebratory drinks. It was a very happy moment as there was a great sense of achievement to have completed an MPharm, tinged with some sadness that we were all going our separate ways.

What advice would you give to new students starting university?

Work hard, get your degree, but be sure to enjoy it as much as you can. Working life is very different!