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Career Story: Senior Cost Analyst At A Pharmaceutical Contractor

Senior Cost Analyst At A Pharmaceutical Contractor

Job Title: Senior Cost Analyst

Type of Company: My company provides services to the pharmaceutical and medical device market. I work in the clinical trials division, which is responsible for new drug development.

Education: BS, Accounting, Bentley College

Previous Experience: I started in accounting while still in college and after graduation, I took a job with a Boston-based electrical contractor doing general accounting. After a year and a half, I moved to a sister company that ran underground cable lines, followed by a stint (of seven years) at a social scientific research company where I was primarily responsible for managing the billing and accounts receivables. I've been with my current employer for 13 years.

Job Tasks: As a senior cost analyst, I have many responsibilities, including the oversight, currently, of fifteen different projects. I make sure that each one has been set up correctly in SAP, our financial software, and that we bill for our services and get paid for them in a timely way.

Forecasting is another part of my job. We forecast the number of hours necessary to complete each task within a clinical trial. This is important for a few reasons: it enables the project manager to determine if his project is on track to be profitable and if we're working on tasks, for some reason, that were not included in the original scope of work. And it helps our managers to decide if they need to hire more people. My forecasting forms the basis, what's more, for our revenue projections, which are key to business strategy. I am also responsible for a balancing a few accounts in the company's general ledger.

When I'm not attending to any of these responsibilities, I trouble-shoot accounting system problems, running and creating reports and assisting my fellow cost analysts.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: It's difficult being in accounting because you learm a lot more about the financial health of the company than you sometimes want to know. there are times, for example, you're better off not knowing that the treasurer isn't sure if we'll be able to make payroll.

The best part of the job is the realization that I'm a foot soldier in a company that brings succor to people through improved pharmaceuticals.

Job Tips: If you want to go into any career involving accounting, I strongly recommend that you work as a CPA first. I've found that there are a lot more opportunities available if you're certified. It's also best to get started with a small company if you can. You'll be exposed to much more. As you bump along in an accounting career -- probably any career -- you tend to lodge in a particular specialty, so you will want to plan you moves with some care.

Additional Thoughts: Another reason to become a CPA is that it gives you a kind of "star power." Non-CPAs aren't always thought of as contributing to the company's revenue stream and are relegated sometimes to the position of second-class citizens: a drag on the rest of the company. A CPA is a much more valuable commodity.

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