“Getting to know yourself is essential for job seeking in the industry”

Name: Alessandro Sorrentino
Did PhD at: Università degli Studi di Salerno
Current position: EU Medical Director at Sanofi Genzyme
Interviewed by: Christine Zimmer

After his PhD, Alessandro Sorrentino was in love with Science and finished his post doc with a Nature paper. He had never planned to leave academia. Why should he? After all, his post doc went very well.

PhD from Università degli Studi di Salerno 2001-2005,
Post doc at Ludwig Institute for Cancer research 2005-2008,
Clinical Scientist Nordic Europe at Centocor via DOCS international 2009-2010,
edical Advisor Immunology Nordic Europe 2010-2011,
EMEA Medical Advisor Immunology 2012-2015,
Director Medical Affairs 2015-2017 at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
Current position: EU Medical Director at Sanofi Genzyme 2017-present

In the end of his postdoc, Alessandro started to think about the future and realized that constantly applying for funding was not something he wanted to spend the majority of his time with. At the same time, he started to reflect about himself, realizing that he really likes science communication. “Knowing yourself and your character is very important”, he says. “The industry has a lot to offer, but you need to figure out what drives you to go to work every day and what you really like”, he adds. Alessandro started to apply for jobs and had to face some challenges. Without fluent Swedish and experience in the industry, it was troublesome to find a position and he joined a recruitment network.

Alessandro started to work as Clinical Scientist at Concentor via a recruiting agency, serving as a liaison between the company headquarter and medical experts in Nordic Countries in collaboration with the local commercial partner. He is very clear and explains that his academic skills are very useful, because the scientific knowledge is what this job is based on, but to understand the mentality of clinicians and how hospitals are organized is of great importance as well. He established himself in a complex environment, participated in internal discussions and contributed to moving things forward. “I had to learn quickly and try to understand the pharmaceutical industry internal complexity and the clinical practice of my external stakeholders”, he says.

“Use opportunities and challenge yourself”, is probably not only an advice that Alessandro has, but a very central topic during our conversation. When he tells me about his promotions at Johnson & Johnson, I realize that facing a new challenge, creating a new way to overcame an issue, being creative and going out of your comfort zone can be the door opener to reach the next level.

Alessandro´s next position was more strategic. He worked cross-functionally with different departments within the company to ultimately shape scientific and marketing strategies to successfully establish a new innovative product on the market. Over the years Alessandro gained more responsibilities, continuing with an EMEA position, which means to be responsible for Emerging Markets (Africa, Middle East, Western Asia and Commonwealth of Independent States). Being part of the Global Medical Leadership Team, he finally became Director of Medical Affairs in Cairo for the North Africa cluster, having direct people responsibilities, developing and creating the department as a company board member reporting into the managing director. “Understand the environment around you and build up trust”, he points out and emphasizes again the importance of soft skills, especially for a higher-level position

After 7 years in the same company, Alessandro was ready for new challenges in his life and wished for a change. Currently working as EU Medical Director at Sanofi Genzyme he says, “I wanted to experience something different again, learn more about the approach of a different company and launch a newly developed “first-in-class” biologic at EU level in a completely new therapeutic area that has not seen innovation in decades”. He points out the importance of finding a job that suits personality and needs. “Find out what you like and don´t be blinded by the salary or title. When you do something you enjoy with an innovative and light spirit, a high level of commitment and sacrifice, and that fits your character, the rest will come”.


Photo: Adapted from original shared by Alessandro himself

This career portrait was originally written for the PhD course “Career skills for scientists”, organized every spring by KI Career Service. As explained in the introduction post, all participants in the course interviewed PhD holders with an academic or a non-academic career. Keep an eye on the tags #careerportrait, #InsideAcademia and #OutsideAcademia listed below, for a selection of these portraits. Get inspired and learn more about your options for your post-PhD career!


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