Premier People: Madeline Musarra, Manager, Project Planning and Management

Premier Value: We Get It Done

I was a communication major at North Carolina State. It had nothing to do with science. But by chance, my first job out of college was with a biotech company. I had a lot to learn. As I understood more about clinical research, I made the decision to join a CRO. I started as a clinical trial assistant, doing things like sifting through regulatory document packets and managing the TMF.

After a few years at a big CRO, some friends recommended Premier, and I joined as a project specialist.

I was immediately struck by the people and the culture. Everyone was incredibly welcoming, which felt completely different when compared to my big CRO experience. Everyone was so approachable. When I had questions, I could ask my colleague in the next cubicle or even stop by the office of someone in leadership. My very first week, I sat with someone from finance and asked him what he did. It was such a positive experience being able to learn cross functionally—there are so many moving parts in this industry and understanding how they connect can be a huge help.

I moved up and had become a senior project specialist—but then I was offered an amazing chance outside Premier, to be a project manager with a home health research nursing agency. I had used home health nursing in one of my studies and I was fascinated by the industry, so I was really excited to go for the opportunity—but I was still so sad to leave Premier.

I stayed in touch with my former colleagues after leaving Premier, and about a year later, I learned there was an open line management position within the project specialist team. I leapt at the chance to come back. I had realized that mentoring was my passion, and this role allowed me to do that every day with a team I really enjoyed working with.

Now I manage a team of about 25 project specialists. They operate as the project managers’ right hand, working on day-to-day operations, running reports, managing the Trial Master File, attending client meetings, and supporting the entire internal study team. They are pivotal members of any study team. It is unique within some CROs to have a dedicated line management team like me. Who are solely dedicated to the project specialists’ career development. When I was with a large CRO, a project director was also my line manager; we talked maybe once every three months and I wasn’t sure they knew who I was. With the team structure at Premier, there is greater connection and support.

Because Premier prioritizes promoting from within, usually line managers have been in the role that we are supporting. This gives us a better understanding of how our employees are doing because we have done the work in that role before. As a project specialist, I’ve probably made all the mistakes you can make—and I think that’s to my team’s benefit. When they come to me with an issue, I’ve probably already seen it or done it and can help them problem-solve.

As a project specialist at Premier, I felt incredibly empowered to determine where my career would go. I am doing my best now to be the kind of line manager that I had. We have created a culture where you feel free to communicate candidly and really discuss what you need. People feel more supported and more encouraged about their growth within the company.

Of course, at Premier, everyone supports each other; we’re very family-like, something more than coworkers. When we talk about resourcing, my executive director’s first question is, ” Who can we support?” And everyone brings a solution to the table. But that support also happens at a human level. When someone has issues in their personal lives, the team immediately pulls together to make sure everything is covered, and that person feels like they can turn off their computer, attend to their family, and come back when they’re ready. At Premier, we are honestly one team, and I’m so glad I came back to that.

If you are interested in working for a company where support and connection is a priority, Premier Research could be a great fit. See open positions here.