Our career profile series highlights the career journeys of members of our team and illustrates the variety of progression routes and opportunities available to statisticians and programmers at Veramed.

In this profile, we sit down with James Diserens, a Senior Programmer at Veramed, and discuss his career path to date, his motivations, and his aspirations for the future.

What is your role? 

As a Senior Programmer, I manage the day to day programming activities on a range of projects, working closely with a Lead Statistician. The statistician oversees the project and manages the resource and timelines with my input and support. I am responsible for setting up the programming environment and assigning team members to production and QC activities as well as programming directly myself. I divide my time between supporting internal system improvement initiatives and working with one of our large pharma clients using their systems.

When did you join Veramed?

I joined Veramed four years ago from a niche CRO specialising in Phase 1 trials.  In making a move, I transitioned from working on small exploratory studies with a maximum of a hundred subjects to supporting publications analysis for a vast 18,000 person trial.

What were your career motivations for joining? 

At the time, I was considering a career change from a statistical programmer to a statistician. With Veramed, I was offered the opportunity to spend a year working in programming, then go on to take a Masters in Statistics. In the event, I ultimately decided that I preferred being on the programming side of the fence.

In my previous role, I worked as part of a small group of relatively junior programmers. One of my primary motivations for joining Veramed was to be part of a larger and more experienced team and work in an office with knowledgeable colleagues.  I felt this would position me best to develop my skills through informal learning and mentoring. I find asking questions in a supportive office environment a better way to learn than doing a formal training course.

Senior Programmer James Diserens talks with a colleague at Veramed's Twickenham office

How has your career path evolved since joining?

It’s evolved a lot! As I mentioned, I started out working on the 18,000 subject trial, which was a somewhat fluid and slow-moving pace of work.  

Then I started working for a major pharmaceutical client on more typical deadline-driven clinical trials.   I tend to prefer work where you have fixed milestones, and are working through a defined process from receiving a Statistical Analysis Plan, developing a programming strategy and building datasets and outputs.  From my early days at Veramed as an individual contributor, I fairly swiftly progressed to managing elements of the project delivery and interacting directly with clients.  I stepped up from this stage to become a lead programmer taking responsibility for increasingly large studies.  Right now, I’m handling up to three projects at a time while maintaining my own programming activity.

What is your proudest achievement?

When I joined the company, I wasn’t a confident presenter.  Veramed actively encourages participation at industry conferences, so I stepped out of my comfort zone by submitting and presenting a poster at the PhUSE conference. The following summer, I gave a webinar on the same topic. I then made a full oral presentation at the following PhUSE in Frankfurt and won ‘best in stream’. I was proud to receive an award for an activity I wasn’t particularly comfortable with at the outset.

What are your aspirations for the future?

I am heavily involved in the recruitment process for our new graduate joiners, and I’ve interviewed most of our latest fresher cohort. A couple of years ago, I also started taking responsibility for some of the graduate training sessions we run and acting as a mentor.  Those graduates are now more experienced themselves, so in turn, they are taking on mentoring roles. The next logical step in my career journey is to progress into line management. I’m in the process of transferring from our London to Swansea office, so it’s a matter of finding the right internal opportunity.

To learn more about current career opportunities with Veramed, email [email protected] to arrange a confidential discussion with one of our recruitment team.

If you are interested in Programming careers you may find our recent video on ‘Becoming a Lead Programmer’ of interest. Enter your details below to watch the video.