From PhD to clinical trials project management: Ana’s career shift quickly delivers results

Ana’s passion for biomedical sciences brought her to Covance as a Regional Study Coordinator (RSC) earlier this year. She said after working in R&D and chemistry, shifting to a project management role presented an opportunity to develop different skills and realize an immediate impact on patients’ lives. The opportunity to transform healthcare and change lives around the world – what we call Energizing Purpose – is the common thread that unites Covance employees like Ana to push new boundaries.

As she establishes her career in technical project management at our Central Laboratory Services (CLS) site in Mechelen, Belgium, Ana maintains a personal and professional balance with time at home and in the office. She has completed a rigorous training program and continues to develop her project management skills with her mentor.

Find out more about Ana’s role in project management and the potential she sees with a career at Covance.

What did you do before working at Covance?

I completed my graduate studies in biomedical engineering in Portugal. There were not many job opportunities: It was academia or consultancy. For my first work experience, I decided to stay in an academic R&D environment. I switched to a chemistry role before moving to Belgium, where I obtained a PhD in chemistry. But I always wanted to go back to biomedical sciences.

What attracted you to Covance?

In my academic background, I worked on fundamental research. While I liked it, I couldn’t see the immediate benefit to a product or to someone’s life. In my current role, I will see the drug released into the market. I have a clear goal and know I am contributing to something bigger.

How did your PhD program prepare you for a role in our technical project management department?

When you are in a PhD program, you are already developing project management skills like time management and meeting deadlines. The interaction I had with others in my field and the skills I gained gave me confidence.

What motivates you in your current role?

As a Regional Study Coordinator, you are faced with many different types of queries – so many that it’s challenging. It’s not a job where I’ll ever be bored. I’m always learning. There are always new problems, and I need to think of different solutions. Every day I’m doing something different, and that’s exciting.

Can you sum up a Regional Study Coordinator role in one sentence?

As the first point of contact between the global project management team – the internal Covance CLS departments and the regional client representatives – I manage local operational activities involved in a clinical trial at a regional level.

What’s most challenging about being a Regional Study Coordinator?

Time management is a constant challenge. I have learned how to manage incoming requests and communications, prioritizing the most urgent needs and providing the best service possible.

What’s your day-to-day look like?

Working on the day-to-day logistics involved in a clinical trial, at least as far as the lab piece of the trial goes, I spend a lot of time managing and tracking tasks from different platforms. These tasks include user access management, handling of regional supply and sample shipments, and query solving. I really enjoy opportunities to interact with my fellow Regional Study Coordinators and our project management team. I can split my time working from home or in the office. That flexibility has been wonderful.

What will make or break someone who wants to be a Regional Study Coordinator?

It is a demanding role. You must prioritize and learn how to manage and differentiate what is truly urgent. Someone who thrives under pressure with great communication skills will do well in this role.

What did you know about Covance before you applied?

I knew what a clinical research organization was, but I wasn’t familiar with clinical trial management roles at Covance until I started searching for jobs. Covance has the world’s leading network of clinical research central labs, and I was surprised to learn that Belgium is a hub for clinical trials. It’s great to start my project management career in a centralized area with a leading provider.

What’s next for you?

I only started this role a few months ago, but I already find myself invested in the company and the opportunity to have a career that impacts people across the world. The Regional Study Coordinatorrole is a great way to enter the project management field and learn processes within the company, and eventually I’d like to grow into a more senior role. Our Regional Study Coordinatorscan progress into roles including Senior Regional Study Coordinator, Global Monitor or Global Study Manager.

Learn more about what it takes to get started in a project management career at Covance or explore all our career opportunities at

Apply to the Regional Study Coordinator role now:

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