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Pf Award Winners past and present convened in London to celebrate their achievements and network with their peers at the Pf Award Winners Club 2019.

It is often said that a Pf Award win is career-changing for those pharmaceutical sales and marketing professionals that have had the honour of achieving one. That was evident at the Pf Award Winners Club on 25th September at London’s Living Room in London City Hall.

Situated on the top floor of City Hall, London’s Living Room offers stunning panoramic views over the River Thames and some of London’s most iconic monuments, including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, the Shard and the Gherkin.

Celebrating excellence for 20 years

Pf Awards celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2020 and Karl Hamer, Publisher of Pf, opened the Pf Award Winners Club by paying testament to the longevity of the Pf Awards. He expressed his pride over the continuing success of the event, which recognises top performers, celebrates their achievements and reflects on what the industry needs.

Karl said: “I started my career carrying the bag, and if the Pf Awards had been around when I was a sales representative, I would have entered. It’s important to be able to recognise industry in this way.”

Karl then handed over to Melanie Hamer, the driving force behind the Pf Awards. Melanie has developed, grown and evolved the Pf Awards over the past two decades, ensuring that they continue to raise standards.

Melanie explained: “Pf Awards is all about recognising and celebrating success, and everyone in this room is an example of this.

“Pf Awards is also about raising the standards in the industry and keeping that bar raised; I’m sure you will agree that this is important.

“And it’s why the Pf Awards Assessment Day is designed to challenge you professionally and ensure that only the top candidates are recognised on the big screen and stage.”

Thanking the Pf Award Winners Club sponsors, Melanie added: “Ashfield, CHASE and Star have kindly sponsored this evening for us. They, along with many other commercial sponsors, have been great supporters of Pf Awards over the years and I would like to personally thank them. Without them, this evening would not be possible.”

Melanie then undertook the roll call of Pf Award Winners, inviting them to the stage individually to receive their Pf Award Winners badge. Winners came from as far back as 2000 and as recently as 2019, showcasing the fantastic spectrum of industry and career progression that surrounds Pf Awards.

Life-changing experience

Once all of the Pf Award winners had been recognised, Melanie introduced the evening’s inspirational speakers, Yorkshire Rows, by saying: “Tonight is all about success and achievement, something that this evening’s guest speakers know all about.

“Yorkshire Rows is a team of four formidable mums from Yorkshire who are the first women to row across the North Sea and also hold a Guinness World Record for rowing across the Atlantic. These four ladies are not professional sportswomen, they are four ordinary working mums who ‘dared to dream’.”

Taking to the stage, Frances, Helen and Janette apologised for their fourth member Niki’s absence, then went on to enthral and motivate everyone in the room with the story of their journey – from mums who met at the local rowing club every Saturday morning, to World Record holding, ocean-rowing women who took on a life-changing experience.

Janette has a personal connection to the pharmaceutical industry, as she started her career as a medical sales representative, so she was delighted to be at the Pf Award Winners Club helping to celebrate success.

Describing their decision to row the Atlantic and the required training as “challenging”, Frances explained how they had to face their fears and discover strengths that they never knew they had.

A seemingly innocuous conversation between them at the Annual Boat Club Dinner led to that decision to row the Atlantic. Frances explained: “Rowing was my oasis in an otherwise busy week.” And when the conversation turned to entering the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, Frances added: “I said yes. You have to say yes if an opportunity is offered.” She continued: “There’s an adventure in everybody but you have to choose your own and then be relentlessly dedicated.”

Supported by their partners and children, they set about training. Dubbed ‘Four Mums in a Boat’ by the media, it took three years to get in the best shape to complete the challenge safely.

“We weren’t the normal face of the race,” explained Helen. “We needed a huge amount of effort to get to the start line. We were working mums, we couldn’t train in the gym every day, so we needed to adapt our training around our family.” This included training in the kitchen whilst cooking dinner, supporting the children with their homework and looking after the dog.

The Journey

Having undertaken all the preparation, Janette explained that leaving as the race began was the hardest part of all. “As skipper, it was hard to leave La Gomera, to let go of the shore and head into the unknown.” She added that their naivety was however an advantage: “We didn’t know what we were facing.”

The challenge wasn’t without drama. They depleted their battery system on Christmas Day leaving them with no automatic steering or desalinator for clean water; Niki fell over and damaged her coccyx; they sailed through Hurricane Alex, and suffered with blisters and sores. Although Janette added: “We had beautiful moments too, it was amazing to see the dome of stars at night and felt like we were on another planet. We also saw whales, dolphins and sea turtles; it was a beautiful journey and we were intent on enjoying the experience.”

When they finally reached the finish line they came 22nd out of 26 starters, but more than that, they had achieved something incredible. Janette explained: “It didn’t matter when we arrived, what mattered was that we enjoyed the journey and remained friends. It was incredibly overwhelming and a tremendous experience. More people have climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic.”

Not only did they row the Atlantic in 67 days, five hours and two minutes, they also broke a World Record for the oldest all-female crew to complete the 3000-mile challenge. They also raised more than £100,000 for charity.

Melanie and Karl then presented Janette with an honorary Pf Award Winners Club badge to mark her past connection to the pharmaceutical industry.

Winners speak

As the Yorkshire Rows left the stage, Pf spoke to the guests about what brought them to the Pf Award Winners Club.

Katrina Walker, winner of the 2017 Sales Team Pf Award, said: “I love attending the Pf Award Winners Club. It keeps my Pf Award win alive and I really feel part of something special.”

Richard Johnson, Country General Manager at Kyowa Kirin, added: “We’re delighted to be here tonight. We’re committed to putting our top talent forward for the Pf Awards 2020.”

Martyn Beauchamp, 2017 Account Manager Pf Award Winner, explained: “The Pf Awards are tangible recognition of excellence in our industry, from an external body of experts. They recognise the incredible work and talented individuals that I am humbled to work alongside. The Pf Award Winners Club is an excellent networking opportunity.”

David Gleghorn, winner of the 2017 Sales Team Pf Award said: “The Pf Awards are the jewel in the crown of the pharmaceutical industry. It’s really nice to be recognised, and the Pf Award Winners Club is always in an amazing setting in keeping with its prestigious reputation.”

Rob Turnbull, winner of the 2017 Regional Manager Pf Award, continued: “It is a spectacular evening. It’s fantastic to be recognised amongst my peers. I’m exceptionally proud to be able to attend the Pf Award Winners Club and see how colleagues, peers, winners and alumni have progressed since their Pf Award win.”

Dave Lampard, who won the 2019 Field Manager Pf Award added: “I was promoted two months after my win. I’m now Head of Business Development. The Pf Award Winners Club has been both inspirational and heart-warming. It’s been incredible to hear the struggles and challenges of the Yorkshire Rows and what they’ve achieved.”

Kay Varlas, who won the 2019 Learning and Development Partnership Pf Award, explained: “Winning for learning and development has set an example within our company and I’m encouraging others to enter the Pf Awards 2020. When I won, it was the first time I’d entered but I was with a seasoned veteran in Raheel Mirza. The Pf Award Winners Club is great and I’m hoping to be able to bring more people from Thornton & Ross to the event in 2020.”

Raheel Mirza, double Pf Award Winner, who won the Leadership and Development Partnership Pf Award in 2016 and 2019, added: “Thornton & Ross would like to have representation from all levels of the organisation at the Pf Awards next year. We’re aspiring to have strong candidates in every category.

“The Pf Awards allow people to raise their own profile and the profile of their organisation. Individuals are able to show their full potential. It’s great to have been in the presence of the Yorkshire Rows.”

Alison Duncan, 2017’s Secondary Care Specialist Pf Award Winner and Outstanding Performer, concluded by saying: “It’s been a great event to be part of. I enjoy meeting the other Pf Award Winners and entering the Pf Awards is the best thing I’ve done in more than 20 years in the industry. It offers additional opportunities, raises awareness of industry and helps to deliver amazing patient outcomes. It’s great to be celebrated. It’s a fantastic event and I’ll be coming back for years; the speakers are exemplary.”

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