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Career Story: Clinical Project Management, Novartis Ireland Ltd.

Sana Ben-Harchache

Job title
Clinical Project Management
Novartis Ireland Ltd.
Five years
  1. Bachelor’s of Science in Neurobiology, Physiology, & Behavior from UC Davis
  2. Master’s of Science from UC Berkeley in the United States
  3. As of 2016, I have started a graduate programme at UCD with the hopes of completing a PhD in Health, Food and Nutrition.
Favourite subjects in school
I have always respected and valued all subjects even if I struggled or was disinterested.
The best thing about my job
My role is a replica of my personality and that’s why it’s such a perfect fit.

 You have to be prepared to make quick decisions and act with due diligence whilst maintaining integrity. 

I want to emphasize that to do something you love is crucial to your happiness. 

My main tasks

I work in the Novartis Global Service Centre established by Novartis recently in Dublin. My main tasks are to manage, maintain and support activities for a full service clinical study from start up to closing.

Skills for my job include the ability to multi-task, proactively follow up and maintain key timelines and deliverables for studies and ensure quality and integrity in workflow. My work has high impact, with results from my studies paving the way for scientific innovation and breakthrough treatments impacting one billion people worldwide.

What I like 

My personality is a combination of routine and spontaneity. There are certain routines in my life that I enjoy keeping while I also like to have sudden incidents in my life which maintain the excitement. My role is a replica of my personality and that’s why it’s such a perfect fit.

Although sometimes there is too much excitement, this is only expected in project management. I love mentoring others, managing processes as well as bridging gaps between academia and operations so my job is a great fit.

I also have the loveliest team whom even in the midst of busiest times, you can count on them to set their personal work aside to help a co-worker in need. 


Working in customer facing environments can always pose a potential challenge but having the right attitude and concentrating on the end game will always keep you one step ahead.

My job is very fast paced and sometimes requires that you take calculated executive decisions to move forward with a certain task which for some could be difficult. Being highly organised at all times and maintaining a positive attitude in a busy environment could be a challenge for some.

Who influenced me 

My mom is my role model and has been my number one fan and most influencer in my career direction. Mom is great at multi-tasking; she balanced studying with raising three children which really laid the ground work to nourish my management skills. Her intuition, extravert personality, and observant nature are all qualities that I have cultivated from Mom.

She helped me acquire the necessary skills to be successful in both my personal and professional life. She valued my success and continues to consult me to this day on any matter I feel I need a second opinion on.

My mom loved science from childhood and instilled that love in me from childhood. She always inspired me to be the best version of myself and I continue to work towards that to this day.

Work/ life balance 

Novartis is keen to develop its talent. As part of its approach to talent development the company promotes inter-company moves so if you find another position in Novartis that interests you more, your manager is happy to assist you. Novartis believes in career progression through its education scheme where you can claim some money back for taking job-related courses.

Novartis also provides a great work-life balance, providing you with benefit such as flexi leave and 25 days a year holiday leave. Novartis also provides a great and colourful work environment to ensure you are happy at work.

The diversity in backgrounds and experiences of individuals allows you to share your knowledge and learn from others. The management team at Novartis is very much in tune with associates and they work hard to create a positive and warm environment for anyone to feel comfortable and happy at work.

Most useful aspect of my education

I believe that a combination of my coursework, volunteer experience, research work, and personal growth have all proven equally useful for my job today. My job requires a combination of background knowledge of skills and educational experience.

You can have skills and education to complete a task but your attitude will heavily influence how well you complete the task and those around you will be both effected and notice this. This is why I stress that everyone should find a career that they find themselves waking up every morning excited for what’s to come. 

Useful work experience

For anyone interested in pharmaceuticals, it’s important to understand the drug development process from the grass roots. Secondary level studies should pursue internships to see if it’s the right environment for them. At University, completing volunteer research work I believe is very helpful because it provides you with bench-side work skills which could help you go into medicine, research, and pharmaceuticals.

After university, I believe it’s important to understand the two paths that you can take of either research in academia or in industry or you can choose to do both. For both paths, it’s best that you obtain an internship and training, for it will allow you to learn a lot about the drug development process. Students studying pharmacy also might decide to join the industry and it’s perfectly adaptable.