3 posts tagged “careers”

A Day in the Life of PatientsLikeMe Office Manager Alison Dutton

Posted March 22nd, 2012 by

What’s it like to work at PatientsLikeMe?  We are continuing to reveal just that with our monthly blog series “A Day in the Life,” which features various employees from different departments.  So far, we’ve featured people like User Experience Engineer Cris Necochea and Research Assistant Shivani Bhargava.  Today, we share our interview with Office Manager Alison Dutton, who’s been keeping things running smoothly – and hilariously – for the past two years.  Find out what we learned from Alison about life at the epicenter of a startup.

alison-photo-2

1.  What’s it like being the Office Manager of a growing startup?

I have heard this particular question many times before and each time I give a different answer – all depending, of course, on how the previous day has ended. It can be incredibly exhilarating and at the same time exhausting mentally as well as physically. The important thing to note is that it’s never, ever dull.

Although this can be said for most positions in a startup, for me, I relish the spontaneity and craziness that ensues on a daily basis. I have had experiences with established companies that had more of a corporate culture. It is Groundhog Day all over again. Since I have a few startups under my belt, I am familiar with the energy, which is so addictive.  Everyone should try it once in their lifetime.

2.  You have such a great sense of humor.  Is that a requirement in your position?

The humor isn’t just a prerequisite for the job but also for life in general. I grew up the only girl in a household of boys, so I probably had to develop a sense of humor and thick skin a little quicker than most. As far as it coming in handy for my job – things change quickly in a startup environment and specifically with a job like mine, where one day you’re preparing for a board meeting and the next day you’re planning a company field trip to the local pub. You must be able to roll with it and maintain a smile throughout.

I find that being able to laugh at life – and at myself – helps me make the most of every day, whether I’m having a good one or a bad one. It also helps others relax when things get tense. It’s helpful that I tend to see things in a more positive light. After reading some of the patient profiles on our site, it reminds me of how lucky I am. I can stub my toe 10 times during the day and at the same time realize that I am wickedly overdrawn on my bank account and still laugh at myself.

What it boils down to is appreciating what you have – I am so dang lucky to come to work every day and be with the most remarkable people I have ever known.

3.  Give us a slice of life at the office.  What’s a typical day like for you?

I can always try to schedule my day, but it never truly goes according to plan. Today started with a call from someone trying to find our offices – she was driving from Logan Airport and had no experience with Boston drivers. She did eventually make it, although a little beaten up.

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The remainder of the day would probably go something like this…first, check in with our amazing 3-Star and PatientsLikeMeInMotion programs for members. While monitoring that, start in on another job, which may entail booking travel for 3-5 employees, setting up a new employee or managing a build out (we have expanded our offices a couple of times). All the while I am answering random but important questions from employees.

At the same time, I try to maintain incoming invoices, scan resumes, work with marketing on our t-shirts, manage employee expenses, bark at people who don’t clean up after themselves, pay our software licenses, mail tax documents, submit expense reports, cancel expense reports, run to the Apple store for supplies, order food for the tired and hungry and, in between it all, try to grab that first cup of coffee.

4.  What would you tell someone who’s considering working at PatientsLikeMe?

We do important work and require 110% every day. You must be on the ball and able to take little direction and run with it – in other words, if you need someone to dictate your every move, this is not the place for you. We work very hard and at times play very hard, but most importantly, we do it together.

Everyone here is on the same team and, believe it or not, there are no cliques.  People genuinely care about each other. I chalk this up to Team Heywood. Lastly, we have a fairly rigorous interview process, but if you make it through and join the company, you will never look back.

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Interested in making a difference in patients’ lives?  Check out our Careers page to see our current job openings.  Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, PatientsLikeMe is looking for a Research Scientist, Senior User Experience Designer, Marketing Associate and more at the moment.


A Day in the Life of Research Assistant Shivani Bhargava

Posted February 15th, 2012 by

What’s it like to work at PatientsLikeMe?  We are continuing to reveal just that with our monthly blog series “A Day in the Life,” which features various employees from different departments.  So far, we have profiled Research Scientist Mike Massagli and User Experience Engineer Cris Necochea, and today, we share our interview with Research Assistant Shivani Bhargava.  Unlike Mike and Cris, who are both company veterans, Shivani offers the perspective of a more recent hire.  Find out what it’s been like for her to jump in and start her career with our team.

PatientsLikeMe Research Assistant Shivani Bhargava at Moss Beach, California

1.  What convinced you to join PatientsLikeMe?

I was recruited right out of undergrad in the Spring of 2010. I was just beginning my job search and a previous employer pointed me to this fantastic startup in Cambridge, MA. It took five…maybe ten minutes to fall completely in love with the website and realize I wanted to help contribute. I really liked the idea of a completely unique healthcare company that was using a creative business model to actually improve healthcare by putting the patient voice first. After two interviews, in which I’m almost positive Paul Wicks and Sally Okun took pity on my bumbling college student enthusiasm, I started working for PatientsLikeMe!

2.  Tell us what it’s like to be part of the Data Operations Team.

Health Data Integrity is the name of the game. And that’s exactly what we do. We make sure that patient data is entered accurately and according to the intentions of the patients themselves. Things have sure gotten more interesting since the expansion of the site to include every condition, but it’s been an educational and enriching process. It’s normal to find us simultaneously working with a diverse number of patients and various medical ontologies and online resources to carefully map the patient vocabulary against an existing clinical one.

It’s also humbling to work with such a qualified team. Between PharmD’s and RN’s, we’ve got degrees and years of experience galore. In fact, I’m the only one with just a mere BA! Everyone on my team continues to amaze me daily with their expertise and ability to work through tough problems. If you put all our heads together, we’re pretty much an unstoppable force at PatientsLikeMe.

3.  What research projects are you working on at the moment?

One of the big things we’re working on as a team is trying to build a medical framework using patient-reported data. Since one of our goals is to map a patient vocabulary, we’re trying to infuse the mountains of enormous data that our users provide with structure and organization, similar to existing medical ontologies. The potential benefits of this would be endless. Overall, it would help research and patient empowerment, and it would allow clinicians to better understand the patient experience.

Of course, it’s not an easy task. Imagine trying to invent an entire language with rules, categories and syntax with just a tiny, yet brilliant team!  Okay, well, maybe it’s not quite like that.  We do, after all, have the help of an online information revolution where we can easily access clinical resources.  Also, we have at our disposal the insightful and diverse patient community at PatientsLikeMe. And because of that, it’s a challenging project that continues to be dynamic and make progress. Look out healthcare systems!

And that is ultimately why I love working at PatientsLikeMe. We’re really out to change the face of the healthcare system and maybe not just here in the states, but internationally too!

4.  How would you describe the PatientsLikeMe work culture?

Well, between free lunches during Journal Club on Fridays [where a different speaker talks to the entire team each week], ping pong breaks in the afternoons and the LEGO station in the engineering pit, it’s hard work. Clearly not meant for the stiff, traditionally-minded laborer at heart.

Kidding aside, the startup environment and more specifically the PatientsLikeMe atmosphere makes working here not at all like work. It’s normal to have impromptu discussions or meetings about new ideas or problem-solving strategies. People are productive here. You are constantly working on new projects, new goals and new aspects of the site, which makes sense given the constantly evolving nature of the website. Everyone brings valuable perspective to the table and together we’re building something that all of us believe in as a cause.

That’s the biggest thing. We’re not a non-profit or a charity organization. We’re a business…with a rather noble and innovative product. And that really lies at the crux of our amazing work culture.

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Interested in making a difference in patients’ lives?  Check out our Careers page to see our current job openings.  Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, PatientsLikeMe is looking for a Community Moderator, Marketing Associate, Research Client Manager and more at the moment.