From Chasing Mice to Chasing Accounts — My Unique Career Journey

Sponsored by Veeva Systems

Carla Foley

Carla Foley. Photo courtesy of Veeva Systems.

Veeva Systems
Veeva Systems
May 24, 2024 at 5:32PM UTC
This article was originally published on by Veeva Systems.
My name is Carla Foley and my role at Veeva is as an Account Partner in MedTech based outside of Philadelphia, focusing on enterprise companies in the Northeast. I consider myself a quarterback responsible not only for customer acquisition but for managing the daily challenges customers face and Veeva’s response to keep those customers happy. I take a holistic approach and work toward keeping everything afloat and occasionally take on rescue missions. The sales aspect of the job comes into play as we respond to the many inbound leads, which is a very exciting new area for Veeva.

Being part of the Veeva MedTech team, particularly in a sales role, is quite special. I worked hard to get here from my roots as a scientist. My studies in college began in pre-veterinary medicine as I had a passion for working with animals. However, after six years of school, I was anxious to move on to start my career. So I accepted a job at a small biotech where I did pre-clinical work on asthmatic mice, a different type of animal focus. I truly enjoyed experimental work, but the company was failing, so I continued clinical work at a much larger biotech company doing more in vivo (living organisms) work as an Associate Scientist. I remained at this company for 15 years because I loved the team, the company, and the professional challenges, and everyone wanted to support me to succeed. Early on, primarily due to a long commute and wanting to have a family, I left to go to another enterprise company. From day one, I knew I had made the wrong decision and spent most of the following year trying to return to my original company.

I did get my old job back and transitioned to work in vitro (with cells) in the lab, but I still needed to reconcile my commute after my first son was born. For six months, I worked relentlessly to learn as much as possible, network, and find someone to take me on in a sales role. As you can imagine, moving from days in a lab to hitting the road as a pharmaceutical sales rep was a huge adjustment. Once that happened, I took on many additional roles, raised my hand to every learning opportunity, and participated in many leadership programs. I worked across the disease spectrum, from cardio to oncology. When I embrace something, I go at it 100%, a quality I learned early on by watching my father pursue his dreams. He worked two jobs to build a family restaurant business.

The company went through many mergers, and when that happened, I was forced to look for a new job. I landed in a company focused on both pharmaceuticals and the medical device space, but I was ready to move on from pharmaceuticals. Once again, I was faced with a huge set of barriers. Similar to my move to sales, I completely immersed myself in the world of medical devices. Somewhat creatively, I put myself in environments where I could hang out with medical device reps. I began by volunteering at a local hospital. While there, I worked in the sterile processing department, an area where I knew the reps would get their instruments cleaned. At the other extreme, I volunteered at a cadaver lab where devices were trialed. No task was too small, and I happily moved into a new job in medical device sales.

My Path to Veeva

After two years of working in my new role selling medical devices and diagnostic tools, a colleague whose wife works at Veeva approached me to talk to me about her company. As much as I embrace change, it was hard to think about software sales. I was far from a techie. After a chat with her, I was introduced to a hiring manager within 48 hours of our conversation. The more I learned, the more intrigued I was. They asked me to tell them why I wanted to work there. The answer was held by the 13 different Veevans with whom I conducted in-depth interviews.

The more I learned, the more questions I asked, and by the time I was done, I was committed to working at Veeva. It became a passionate pursuit. Just like sales, medical devices, and all my other passions — running, cross-fit, yoga, and gardening, to name a few. I have to believe that when you’re trying to achieve something, you must let the world know what you want, which goes a long way to making it happen. I was overjoyed to get the phone call to join Veeva. I was ready for it.

The Work Environment: Great Expectations!

I found at Veeva precisely what I expected, a helping culture. I often say that I feel like someone is holding one arm and someone else is holding the other, supporting me. After three months, I began to see that I wasn’t just asking questions, I was also beginning to answer a few. There have been many challenges and many still ahead, but I know I have a solid team behind me.

What’s important at Veeva is to accept that things will indeed change. You have to embrace change to work here. For me, it’s a great fit as I not only embrace change, I am a cheerleader for it.

Another important aspect of the work environment is the incredible autonomy we experience in the way we approach our work. Everyone wants to hear our viewpoint, encourages us to speak and we can talk to whomever we want to about our ideas. The leaders trust us, and it’s OK to make mistakes. I have also enjoyed the “work anywhere” aspect of my job. Today, from my corner of Pennsylvania, I can manage a much larger territory than I ever had, and I can still enjoy my home and family.

Even though I am still early in my Veeva journey, I look forward to using my experience to inspire others in a leadership role. I am learning new things daily, and there is a bounty of resources at Veeva to get wherever you want. If you want to move ahead, there are many ways to use these resources to their full capability.

Industry Challenges & Opportunities

In terms of the MedTech role itself, I truly believe I am a partner to my customers, consulting with them collaboratively. This is quite different from my role before as a pharma rep, where I felt that I was really pushing a product. I believe my customers would agree that Veeva is there to support their goals. Recently, I had lunch with a director at one of my client companies, and it was obvious that she understood Veeva’s values and shared this perspective.

I have a unique opportunity with Veeva’s product suite to make our customers’ jobs easier daily. Many are still paper-based and share stories of roomfuls of files through which they have to search for answers. We have the resources to help them speed things up, get to market faster, manage their regulatory commitments, improve commercial interactions, and work collaboratively using our tools. Overall, we want to improve their daily activities and communication.

Why You Should Consider Veeva

Consider Veeva as a choice if you are ready to work hard because it will truly pay off. It will reward you financially, emotionally, and thanks to support from colleagues, mentally. The challenges you encounter will help you develop by leaps and bounds for your next role, and those around you are here to guide you to success.

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