Being Moved to Tears at Work

I’ve worked in market research since I graduated from Indiana University.  The first ten years of my professional career was spent working with consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies…you know, basically anything you’d find in a grocery store.  For several reasons, I switched jobs earlier this year.  I now work in market research for a pharmaceutical company’s oncology business unit.

Cancer drugs sure are a far cry from categories I used to work in, like dog treats, juices, oatmeal, and personal care products.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to do something and be part of something that truly makes a difference in people’s lives.  I know I helped my CPG clients make important multi-million dollar decisions.  It was a cool job to have, and I enjoyed what I did.  But I wanted more.  I wanted to help others.  I wanted to make a bigger contribution to the world.

Accepting a new job at a respected pharmaceutic company was absolutely a step in this direction, but it wasn’t until today where I really felt it.

We are in the midst of strategy planning for the next few years.  As part of these meeings, a cancer survivor who battled stage 3 cancer dialed into our meeting and spoke to us about his journey.  One of our products had been part of his treatment regimen. This gentleman was very gracious with his time and allowed us to ask questions.  But it was how he ended the call that had such a big impact on me:

Before I hang up, I have to say…thank you for saving my life.  Thank you for saving my life.  Thank you for saving my life.”

He thanked us…me and the amazing team I work with…for saving his life.

Tears welled up in my eyes and a few fell.  It was an overwhelming feeling of, “THIS is what I wanted.  THIS is the type of contribution I wanted to make.  THIS is why we do what we do.”

We had started the meeting with by introducing ourselves – our name, what role we had on the team, and our proudest work moment in the past year. (It was a large, multi-disciplinary group…marketing, market research, medical experts, media folks, agency partners, patient advocates, etc…and we didn’t all know each other quite yet.). I talked about a huge presentation in my previous job that I had absolutely nailed as my proudest moment.

But twenty minutes later, I knew without a doubt I now had a different answer to that question.

The work I am doing is making a difference for cancer patients and their loved ones.

I am on a team that’s making a difference.

And I work for an outstanding company that is helping patients across a wide range of health challenges.

I knew in my head pretty quickly after I started in March that my job change was the right move for me in a lot of ways. And I knew we were impacting patients and doing good things.

But today I felt it in my heart.  And it’s a moment I’ll never forget 🙂