2019 MSLA Annual Conference Report

On 26th and 27th March we hosted our 2019 Annual Conference at the Birmingham Hilton Metropole, attended by over 100 delegates. This is a great example of the enduring strength and depth of MSLA awareness and the perceived value of our Annual Conference. Delegates represented 40 different Pharma/biotech companies and 16% were aspiring MSLs, 62% were MSLs, 9% were MSL manager/leads responsible for MSL strategy and 4% were other Pharma company employees. The remaining 9% of delegates were representatives of various consultancy companies (e.g. recruitment, service providers, training etc.) closely associated with the MSL role. One observation of the MSLA committee, which was also echoed by delegate feedback, was that more MSL managers/leads should attend the conference as they could provide significant input into the sessions, particularly those sessions focusing on MSL strategy, evolution, governance and compliance. If you agree with this sentiment, please do share this summary and details of the MSLA with MSL managers in your organisations.

This year the MSLA combined both the MSLA AGM which was very well attended with a wonderful guest speaker at the free networking evening. You can read the 2019 AGM minutes & reports hereOver 50 colleagues had the pleasure of listening to an incredibly insightful and thought-provoking guest lecture by Dr Ian Lee-Bennett on Artificial Intelligence. Check out the Network evening photos here (http://tinyurl.com/yyaehkd6).

We opened the 2019 Annual Conference with an exceptional and thought-provoking key note presentation by Prof Willem Kuyken, Prof of Clinical Psychology, Oxford Mindfulness Centre on the very relevant and current topic of Mindfulness (Mindfulness Unpacked: Ancient Wisdom meets Modern Psychology in the Contemporary World). This keynote lecture provided a brilliant overview of the exponentially growing field of mindfulness and its applications. We learnt that when ancient wisdom and modern psychology come together they are no longer a set of ideas or practices but an illumination that guides us to be more present in our lives, with ourselves and with others, with clarity, kindness and ease –  providing a route map to support resilience, realise human potential and the skills for traversing the challenges of the contemporary world. Testament to the quality of the lecture, 92% of delegates rated this session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 70% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role.

Dr Rina Newton, Managing Director of CompliMed Ltd, back by incredibly popular demand, took the stage for a fifth year running to lead a 90min interactive MSL code hot topic session. Rina focussed on core principles and learnings from PMCPA case rulings. Using two MSL specific scenarios she split the audience into two groups, one to complain against the activity, and the other to defend it and conducted audience voting before and after a group discussion to see how views changed.  Rina summarised and closed the workshop with four golden rules: Apply Code principles to everyday situations; Consider what the risks are; Consider how risks can be mitigated; Justify your position. Delegate feedback was again exceptional, with 94% of delegates rating the session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 97% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. Notably 77% rated the session as 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 84% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role.

After a networking lunch, Prof Allan Hackshaw (Prof of Epidemiology & Medical Statistics at University College London) back by popular demand, delivered a Deep dive into Statistics, with a laser focus on Real World Data/Evidence, massively relevant to the MSL role. Prof Hackshaw lived up to expectations and audience feedback was incredible with 94% of delegates rating the session either 4 (very good) or 5 (excellent) out of 5 in terms of quality and 91% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role. The MSLA will continue to work with Prof Hackshaw during 2019 and will be running a 1-day ‘How To’ at Hilton Metropole Birmingham (date TBC). Look out for further communications.

The conference closed with parallel leadership orientated workshops led by ZestFor. Delegates were able to select from either Liberating Leadership & Impactful Influence workshops. Feedback on the Impactful Influence workshop (55% rating 4/very good or 5/excellent out of 5 in terms of quality; 71% in terms of relevance and usefulness to the MSL role) was not as positive as for the Liberating Leadership workshop (78% and 72% respectively). We will be providing your specific comments back to ZestFor to aid their continual improvement.  

Finally, MSLA Chairman Roger Berry closed the conference by thanking the delegates and MSLA members for the exceptional ongoing support, which has seen MSLA membership increase by 121 since 2018. He also issued a call to action for delegates to propose 2019 How To educational day topics/speakers (proposals to info@msla.org.uk please) and MSLA Journal article topics/authors (proposals to journalmsla@gmail.com).

To continually improve the MSLA offering to our membership, we asked delegates to complete feedback forms and pleasingly 62% did so. 95% of delegates rated the overall organisation of the annual conference as very good (31%) or excellent (64%). Furthermore 90% rated the overall educational experience as very good (43%) or excellent (47%). We also asked delegates the following question: On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend the MSLA Annual Conference to a friend or colleague? This is a classical Net Promotor Score (NPS) question, used worldwide to gauge loyalty and the 2019 MSLA Annual Conference scored an NPS of 56 which is right up there with many large multinational organisations. We are very proud of this and incredibly grateful for your ongoing support of the MSLA.

We received some very constructive feedback and suggestions both at the conference and through your delegate feedback forms. We commit to review these and strive to find ways to improve further for subsequent years.

One thing that came through very consistently in the feedback was the significant opportunity that the MSLA Annual Conference provides in terms of networking opportunities with likeminded MSL peers. The Conference is a somewhat unique event, pitched directly at MSLs and delegates clearly get huge benefit from discussing key topics with one another and maintaining a strong professional community. Check out the MSLA 2019 conference photos here (http://tinyurl.com/yx963amv).

Thanks on behalf of the MSLA Committee for your continued support as we strive to provide a common platform in the UK and Ireland to drive compliance, value, credibility and sustainability of the MSL role. Spread the word and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

The MSLA Committee