"Don’t forget to network and always put your best foot forward..."
Alumnus Nirmesh Shah (2005 Pharm.D.) recognizes that in the broad field of pharmacy, some people are just made for certain roles. He credits UofSC faculty with helping him uncover his perfect career path. Shah currently works in the pharmaceutical industry as vice president of Medical Affairs at Apotex/Apobiologix.
Tell us about what you do:
I am currently employed by Apotex and connected to their Biologics division called Apobiologix. I work as the vice president of Medical Affairs and I oversee the Medical Affairs department. My job mainly entails lifecycle management of existing products. I am also responsible for R&D and product pipeline management for future products.
How did you originally get interested in your field?
I always enjoyed mixing different solutions together as a young kid and wondered what was going to happen. I must credit my mom for not getting too mad at me when I would keep doing the Mentos/Coke experiment repeatedly. I gravitated toward the sciences all throughout high school, so pharmacy just seemed to match.
Why did you choose the University of South Carolina?
Well being raised in South Carolina, it was natural to be interested in the university. What put UofSC on my radar was when I was visited my older brother and saw the Horseshoe. The liveliness of the Horseshoe with all the students and the beautiful scenery mixed with its rich history put South Carolina extremely high in my college rankings. When I got accepted into the Honors College of South Carolina, I knew right then that was where I was going to go for college.
What class or professor do you remember the most and why?
This is what separates UofSC from the rest. It is extremely hard to just choose one or two professors, as each one of them had a profound effect during my tenure at the pharmacy school. If I was forced to choose then I would have to say Dr. Cliff Fuhrman and Dr. Walt Sowell. Both professors saw the bigger picture and realized that pharmacy is practiced in multitude of areas. They taught me to be patient and choose the path that best suits my personality and my dreams, not to force my way into an area of pharmacy that isn’t made for me. They both reiterated to me that pharmacy is a lifetime commitment and a marathon, not a race. I took their advice and I truly enjoy what I have chosen to do with my pharmacy degree.
How do you spend your time outside of work?
Outside of work, I am quite busy with my kids’ sports. We (my wife and I) basically live at the park, we are there seven days a week. I have coached their flag football, basketball and soccer teams throughout the year. Since I travel for my job, it is nice to spend some time with them doing something we both enjoy.
What do you do to relax?
Relaxation is hard to come by these days, but when I do, I like to keep active by playing basketball or going to the gym. Just recently, I have gotten into mixology and have made various cocktails (putting my old pharmacy labs skills to work.) 😊
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
The most important lesson that I have learned so far is that showing up day in and day out will yield positive results. When you also mix in hard work and dedication then you will be able to accomplish goals that you didn’t think were even possible.
From a leader perspective, some people are made for certain roles. Your job is to recognize that early and develop them to maximize their impact on your team.
What is your advice for current students / future pharmacy professionals?
The one nugget advice I would give pharmacy students is that it is okay not to know what you would like to do with your degree. I didn’t know what I wanted to do (industry) until the last month of my final year at pharmacy school. Explore all your options as you progress through college and see what matches your personality. As you are venturing out and exploring these different avenues, don’t forget to network and always put your best foot forward each day. The pharmacy field is smaller than you think and so networking plays a vital role.
What is your favorite memory from pharmacy school?
This one is very easy to answer, it’s the annual pharmacy school picnic. When I was in pharmacy school, we would have an annual picnic where there would be food, games and entertainment. As the picnic went on, the games got more and more competitive since it was faculty vs. students. I vividly remember beating Dr. Scott Sutton on a no-look 3-pointer in basketball to beat him in H-O-R-S-E, to put our class over the top one year.
Looking back at your time in school, is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I would honestly say no. I attended a fantastic school with a vast array of different programs. I was able to attend some memorable sporting events with lifelong friends and, of course, finding and marrying my pharmacy school classmate, Dr. Katherine Sanvidge Shah.