In our continued “Meet the Team” series, we introduce Iona Gillies, our newly promoted Research Executive, who reflects on her early days experience as a Trainee Research Executive and overall HRW recruitment process….

Give us a little introduction and tell us where you were before HRW.
I’ve been living in London for about a year and a half now. Before that, I was studying Psychology at university in Plymouth- London was a big change from the chilled beach environment!

What were your expectations about the role before you started?
I’d completed the interview tasks, so I had some idea of the tasks I’d be doing….but the role is so varied I don’t think you could fit it all on a one-page job advert!

What were your impressions during the interview process?
I really enjoyed it! Everyone was very welcoming (and the snazzy office building definitely caught my attention!). The tasks were quite challenging, but they were really varied so gave you the opportunity to recognise which parts of the job you may find come more naturally, as well as those you might find a bit more challenging.

What did you find most challenging in your first few weeks?
There is a lot to pick-up- but I loved that side of it. There was a well-structured training programme which meant every day I was learning something new. I’ve had previous jobs that have left me with a pile of administration duties for the first couple weeks…. but there’s no concern of that happening here!

What do you now enjoy the most about your role?
Every day is different! I really can’t stress just how much variety the job has. Some days I’m charting data, other days I’m writing discussion guides or (before we were working from home) travelling to central location days to view patient/ physician interviews. If I had to choose just one part I enjoy the most, I think I’d have to say report writing- I love being able to pull together the findings from what can be months of research. More generally, the people I work with really add to my day to day enjoyment of the role. We’re a very ‘flat’ company in terms of our structure (it doesn’t feel “hierarchical”), so you can reach- out to anyone if you have any questions- whether it’s someone working at the same level as you or directors…everyone’s always happy to help! We’re a sociable bunch too, even whilst we’ve been working remotely, we’ve kept in touch with ‘virtual happy hours’…. but I still can’t wait to get back to those early Friday finishes (and IRL happy hour) in the office!

Who do you enjoy working with at HRW?
Like I said…everyone is always so open to chat here, there’s really no one I don’t like working with! I have one- to -one catch ups with my line manager Hannah every week, and she’s great at helping me review my goals, plan my time, and find opportunities to help me progress. My buddy Abi is also great. When I first started, I felt like I asked her about a thousand questions a day! But she never minded and was always more than willing to help me out.

What’s your favourite project to date?
I’ve recently been on a project working with physicians treating MS. My background is in psychology, specifically neurodegenerative diseases, so this topic really appealed to me. I’d mentioned my particular interest in this area to my line manager, so she helps me keep a look out for projects in this area that I could join.

What would you like to focus on more in the future/learn more about?
I’ve found I’ve enjoyed the psychology side of our work a lot – so I’m looking forward to gaining more experience working with our behavioural science team. It’s really interesting looking into the behavioural biases that can influence how we think and act.

What advice would you have for new starters in our business?
The first couple weeks are tiring but it’s really worth it….and if you don’t like coffee- you soon will! (Thankfully we have a super snazzy coffee machine in our London offices that I am usually a very regular visitor to).

What are your interests/passions beyond MR?
I love to dance! I’ve been doing it since I was two but I haven’t been able to go to my classes during COVID so I can’t wait to get back to that. I’m also really looking forward to seeing everyone from HRW in person again – we have a lot of missed happy hours to make up for…


By Iona Gillies

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