Provide statistical input to the trial design and analysis of data in clinical trials within drug development.
I spent 15 months (12 month contract + optional up to 3 months extra) at Roche as an associate statistician. I highly recommend Roche for anyone studying mathematics/statistics. The work was varying and challenging, the working environment excellent and the people at Roche are fantastic!
Roche have been running the placement scheme for over 10 years and every year the 3-4 placement students are highly valued members of the department. Due to the multi-disciplinary nature of the company, I felt my work and contribution was influential to not only the statistics department but also colleagues from the many different departments I worked alongside, such as: clinical science, data management, clinical operations and regulatory.
On my first day I was assigned a line manager and a buddy. My buddy was the go-to person for all questions and work related matters. Initially, I had daily 1:1s with my buddy to help me settle in, build knowledge of the project and industry, and to receive short and simple tasks. Over time, our 1:1s became less frequent as I became more familiar with the work and gained confidence. The nature of the work became more challenging and longer in duration, and our adapting 1:1 structure reflected this well. I had fortnightly meetings with my line manager which served as an opportunity to give updates on my work, discuss my development and discuss any problems I wanted to raise.
I owe a great deal to my buddy and line manager and cannot thank them enough for their support throughout my placement year and beyond. They both showed a clear desire to help me develop and progress by giving me opportunities and advice that would serve me well for the future. I remained in contact with both over the next few years and always received praise and congratulations when I subsequently graduated from my BSc, MSc and a graduate opportunity elsewhere. I have since returned to Roche (like most others!), and again both were instrumental for making my return possible. It’s a real testament of the support that Roche offers their placement students.
The workload varied depending on the requirements of the project at the time. All employees are expected to work 7.5 hours a day as per contract. Roche offer flexible working hours, which is something I value highly.
I was treated no different to a graduate statistician, and by the end of the year was attending and leading meetings as the acting statistician on the project. I’d say it’s down to personal preference how much responsibility you’ll receive – your manager or buddy will always ensure you are comfortable within your role.
I was a placement student at Roche in 2009/10 and am writing this review in 2015, which serves well for a ‘what happened next’ answer. The placement year at Roche was invaluable to my subsequent achievements. I improved my average result in final year by 15%, and have no doubt that this was down to the advanced stats methods I was exposed to at Roche and the 9am-5pm work ethic which I carried forward into my finals. I managed to get onto a MSc course without any problems and even received a full grant from Glaxo-Smith Kline to cover the fees and living expenses. I was offered a graduate job on my first job application, and have since re-joined Roche. My CV, application forms, cover letters, references, interviews etc would have been severely lacking without the experiences I gained from my placement year, that I am certain!
The office is a large, modern, open-plan building with a coffee shop, restaurant, sandwich bar, gym, conference suite, and even sleep pods! Everyone at Roche always seem to be happy working there.
Back in 2010, my work and development was mostly determined by the buddy I was assigned to and the work they gave me. Travel opportunities were more limited back then due to budgets etc, but I had a great time nonetheless. Things seem to have changed slightly with the latest set of students in that the year is more structured with set criteria to tick off during the year, in addition to work assigned by your buddy. The 2014/15 students even came on a conference to San Francisco with the rest of the department!
All placement students are sent on a 3-day SAS course within the first 3 months. The statistics department at Roche holds lots of stats training through webinars, lunch and learn, short courses on specific topics, global stats conference (every 2 years) and quarterly departmental meetings. Placement students usually get to volunteer at the annual Big Bang Careers Fair - I had to interact with the general public and explain the use of statistics in the pharmaceutical industry to non-statisticians
Placement students who perform well are likely to be considered for a permanent role at Roche, depending on the roles available at the time.
There were many opportunities for nights out and social events during my placement year. We would meet up in the local pub every Thursday and have a big night out in London once a month. Roche offers a number of clubs and societies ranging from badminton, running club, football, book club, theatre club, cinema club. I was a member of the badminton club and played every Monday. I was also a member of the gym and attended lunch time and evening classes. Once a month the statistics department held a bowling night, which was always good fun. Roche are big supporters of local charities and offer numerous opportunities to get involved; I did a sky-dive and the London 10K, raising hundreds of £s in the process.
Roche is based in Welwyn Garden City, which is a 20 minute train into Kings Cross, London. As a result, rental prices are significantly cheaper than London, as is the cost of drinks/food in pubs and restaurants.
Welwyn Garden City is fairly quiet, with pubs being the main scene. We would get a 20min direct train into London for the big nights out.
I joined the local netball team in Welwyn Garden City. There are many sports clubs and societies to get involved with in Welwyn or surrounding areas.