Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #819 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

This post is generally aimed at all working women and men, and especially towards Pharma colleagues. Why Pharma? The turnover in pharma sales teams ranges from 25 – 50%; very high as compared to office jobs in the same industry and all jobs in other industries. And it is not just due to stress; people working in small businesses receive very bad treatment, poor salary, and everyday attacks on self-respect, but they keep working at the same place for years. It should also be understood that stress is deliberately created by seniors, managers, and business owners, with the sole purpose of making employees feel little, trapped, and helpless. Feeling of helplessness keeps people, particularly women, trapped in abusive jobs and relationships. A helper or salesman working in a shop feels the same helplessness and remains trapped there for years. Well, this is not our main topic today; we shall talk about career setbacks as we see these happening around us. Pharma industry sales and marketing people are more courageous and do not feel helpless easily. If trapped, they would break free and go to another place, hence the high turnover.

Let us define what a career setback is, and what may be the reasons for setbacks.

Career setback may come in any of the three forms.

Loss of job – Losing a job is the commonest form of career setback. All working people carve their careers with hard work, more learning, performing, and achieving over a period of time. The more we have invested in our job and love our job, the more we feel the loss. Sometimes we do not love what we do, but the position is so much coveted that we want to hold on to it, no matter what, and when we lose it, we feel extremely bad. Loss of job leads to several losses at once: loss of identity (I work for ABC company); loss of social status (I am Head of Marketing); loss of income (what about house rent, children fees); loss of perks and benefits (vacation pay, medical insurance etc.); and loss of security (how shall we survive). For career-oriented people, it takes years of hard work to grow and reach a respectable position; losing it is really hard.

Reasons for job loss are many. However, the common factor is that mostly we may see it coming but fail to recognize and accept it. Our performance might have been going down and we keep offering extraneous reasons for it, never pointing towards us. We might have started considering ourselves indispensable and rubbing people on the wrong side. We might have started making groups of likeminded seniors, shutting others out. We might have rejected new projects in our wisdom. We might have been doing good, but someone did much better than us.

Getting Superseded – This is also a familiar scenario. We are working hard every year, bringing results, and doing what is expected but are superseded by a junior who gets the position we had been aspiring for. We feel betrayed and frustrated, because we know the next chance may not come or may come too late.

There may be several reasons for getting superseded. It could be outright favoritism, or pressure from the powers-to-be, or the other guy may be more qualified actually, or he could do better networking, or he was a people’s person liked by many, and has progressive ideas for future, or he is a better performer than us. Before you start cribbing and reacting, do analyze impartially and unemotionally. We shall certainly find some clue to his progress and in the process, we may learn how to do better. But if we react, and show our resentment, then we shall seal our fate for future also.  

Change of Environment – Things keep changing and we do not feel it happening. Some changes are quite obvious, such as bringing in technology which was not there. Lots of companies are doing it. They are purchasing ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning softwares. SAP is very well known, so is Oracle. But there are several others also, and many organizations prefer to get a customized ERP developed for themselves. An ERP changes the way things are done in many ways. Those we do not get along, or resist leaning, or try to delay adoption are the first to lose their jobs. SFE – Sales Force Effectiveness softwares like Ikon and MRep are also being installed by many pharma companies. The monitoring done through these softwares can help us or get us caught. The most glaring example was when several years ago, the banks decided to use computers in place of manual work. Many senior officers left their long-held, plum jobs only because they thought they would not be able to handle the new technology. The new technology was not so tough, but they perceived it to be so, and had major career setback.

Now, look at this scenario. A person at a reasonably good position loses the job rather unexpectedly. It is a huge shock of course. We take time to process and accept this shock and become angry and depressed alternatively. However, being sensible, we start looking for a new job without first understanding what led to the loss of previous job. Maybe we were not doing something right and we need to correct ourselves; maybe we lacked some basic skill, and must learn it; or maybe we were not analyzing our performance as critically as our seniors were doing.

The summary is that career setbacks do not fall out of blue, rather, we do not see these coming. If we constantly do our own performance appraisal and evaluate every opportunity in more depth, we can largely stop the setbacks.


Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.

1 comment

  1. The content is equally relevant for jobs other than pharma-related. A very good analysis, helpful for all jobbers.

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