- Technical training related to Life Sciences.
- Soft Skills and Communication training.
- Professional Development Training, fulfilling requirements to evolve from one function to another.
- Language Training, as this is an important factor within Belgium.
Training and development practices for life sciences professionals.
An interview with ValestaWith increasing investments and continuous growth in R&D and production, the life science and pharmaceutical industry in Belgium offers great career opportunities to (young) graduate students and researchers.
One way to start your career in the life science industry is through consultancy. A great benefit of consultancy is the option of quickly gaining experience in different fields within the industry and within various companies. You also have the chance to continuously develop your technical and soft skills through training.
Last week, we visited consultancy company Valesta and sat down with training manager Kim Verbeeck and Business Liaison Associate Isabelle Lux to discuss the training and coaching methods they use for Valesta consultants.
Can you give us a brief introduction about Valesta?
Valesta has been on the market for over 20 years now- just last year we celebrated our 20th anniversary. We started way back in 1997 as a company, active in the niche sector of clinical research staffing. In 2008, we broadened our business to other services in the life sciences industry. And for 7 years now, we are part of ‘On Assignment’, which is a large US staffing agency providing staffing solutions in different sectors, with Valesta being the brand name for life sciences staffing in Europe.
What kinds of training programs are provided for Valesta consultants?
The training offer is quite elaborate. We always start by looking at the individual needs of our employees and based on these needs, we look for the most adequate trainings and approach. The Valesta Academy offers a complete range of approved courses and workshops to choose from. They cover an array of topics and fall under the following four subjects:
Could you describe one of these trainings?
What we intend to do in all our Valesta Academy training courses is to be as interactive as possible and combine theory with practice. Whether it is a role play or exercises on laws in clinical research, the goal is for our consultants to be able to implement the knowledge from the training courses into their day-to-day tasks.
For soft skills trainings, we use the Insights model. A personal Insights profile is determined via an online evaluator. The personal profile is used for our consultants to get to know themselves, their strengths and their weaknesses and to be able to recognise different personality types. This information can then be used in different soft skills trainings such as Leadership, People Management, Negotiation, Communication, etc. As for the language training courses, only the target language taught is spoken during class.
During these trainings, do your trainees get support from their peers?
Training within Valesta is maybe a bit different from other companies. During our Valesta Academy classroom trainings, Valesta consultants, who might even all be working at different clients’ sites, all come together in one training course. They all practice together, provide feedback and share real life examples during role plays and exercises. This way, they share knowledge gained from their own jobs, personal experiences and responsibilities. The same with the trainers, they immediately provide feedback during the training sessions, in order for the trainee to learn and grow.
How about on-the-job-training?
The on-the-job training is a shared responsibility. Our consultants are after all working at the client's site.
On our part, Valesta provides workshops in which we really practice the tasks and responsibilities that consultants will actually have in their function.
In terms of specific tasks or procedures related to the client, the client does the training.
When our consultants start in a new mission, they will do the client’s on boarding program, which often implies e-learning of standard operating procedures combined with the more practical on-the-job training. Often they will have a personal ‘buddy’ assigned to them, someone to turn to with questions, advice or guidance, so that little by little our consultants can become more independent and experienced colleagues.
And what if a consultant wants to switch functions?
Isabelle and her Business Liaison colleagues meet our consultants very frequently. Very often, our consultants have a fixed idea of the position they want to go to. Even then we will always book a personal meeting and sit together to review everything. This way we are able to look at motivation, knowledge, professional skills, and discuss strengths and weaknesses. We will always look at possible functions and open vacancies, and share in depth information of the requirements for that type of function and the skills they would need to obtain.
When needed, we develop a career plan, with training options, so that our Valesta consultants can grow into a new function.
These days the consulting business is a very competitive sector and a well-trained consultant is a huge asset for your company. Are there for example training methods, training books or knowledge that is kept as a secret within Valesta?
No. We try our best to find the most qualified trainers that also match our company culture: open and honest. Also, we use a personalised way of working. Every single consultant is an individual! His or her professional needs and desires are what we listen to. We offer our consultants the opportunity to grow both in a professional and personal way, to do their job more efficient and correct, in order to become strong Life Science Professionals. I think a strong asset of the Valesta Academy is that we have been working with some of our trainers for several years now and as a result, our trainers are well aware of the environment our consultants are working in.
Do you do any other activities to let your consultants meet each other and share knowledge and experiences?
The Valesta Academy is a great way for our consultants to meet with their Valesta colleagues working at other clients, but we also organise Valesta events twice a year for all our employees.
One is for our employees only and the other one is a Family Day. So, with our consultants, their families and children we go to a nice place and enjoy a fun day together. Of course, we have a large employee population, so it is not easy to get everyone together on one day. Plus our employees are also invited at the events of our clients. Therefore we need to keep an eye on not overdoing it and still keeping in touch with our employees, to keep their Valesta spirit alive!
Also, when we have a team of Valesta consultants working at one client and we have a new Valesta colleague joining the team, they are notified up front, so that the new colleagues get a warm welcome. They can meet at the client’s location, be shown around share lunch together. This way, they get to know each other quickly! A Valesta employee should always know that they are not alone!
For us it is important to have employees, consultants who are happy at work. At Valesta, we will support them in being able to do their job in the most efficient, nice and comfortable way!