Grant Gorr reflects on a decade of experience as a top talent recruiter and president of the ACRP Kansas City Chapter.
Q: How did you first become interested in clinical research, and can you describe the career path you’ve followed?
A: I first became interested in clinical research in 2005. I work in business development for Aerotek, a company that focuses on clinical research staffing, and it had been fielding many requests from our customers to help with resourcing the clinical research associate skill set. I had just started recruiting this skill set and only knew a few things about it. We brought in a monitor we had known from a global contract research organization (CRO), and she spoke to a small group of us, basically providing the full scope of her work and how it impacts research. I was immediately captivated.
Q: How about your involvement in ACRP? When did you first get involved, and what type of benefits have you reaped from being a member?
A: A few years ago, I was approached by two friends in the industry who wanted to start up an ACRP chapter in Kansas City—both had earlier worked on the West Coast, and had exposure to and activity with the Northern California Chapter. The three of us worked together for about six months, and were granted permission to start our own chapter. As we close out year three, we are sitting at a healthy 60 members.
I have met so many wonderful people over these three years, from members to guest speakers and more. I attended the Global Conference the last two years and was able to speak to other chapters. I was able to bring back some best practices that have really strengthened our Kansas City Chapter.
Q: Since your career has spanned several years and you have no doubt seen many changes, what is the most significant change (or top changes) you have seen? How has this affected the industry, either positively or negatively?
A: The biggest change over the last 10 years that I have seen is the sheer volume of positions needed. The demand for research professionals has grown dramatically. CRO, pharmaceutical, biotech, and university settings all have increased their research activities, and all have increased their demands on top talent. While that is positive, the demand is so much greater than the supply; it has been a challenge for organizations to grow at the rate they would like.
Q: What advice do you have to share with other clinical research professionals, in terms of professional development and advancement?
A: The best advice I can give someone is to always stay connected to what is going on outside his or her current role. What I mean by that is, no matter how happy you are in your career, I believe you should continue to educate and network and to stay close to the world beyond your immediate job duties.
The best place to start, in my opinion, is ACRP! Read the Clinical Researcher, sign up for events, volunteer. I work very closely with employers in this industry, and very often they are interested in what candidates are doing to better themselves OUTSIDE the workplace. Of course, it does not hurt to get to know a variety of people, and ACRP events offer up a fantastic opportunity to network and learn about people and the jobs they do.
Q: What about your personal goals? Where do you see your career path heading?
A: I would like to continue to learn more of the technical side of clinical research to better understand the roles I am filling. That will ensure that Aerotek remains a leading partner in the industry. Ultimately, I want to be an invaluable resource for both the clinical and staffing industries.
Q: As you think about the future generation of clinical research professionals, what three “lessons learned” would you like to share?
A: 1) It’s important to network; 2) Be a student of the industry—continue to learn and educate yourself; 3) The industry is ever-evolving, so be ready! Be adaptable, agile, and open to change.
Q: Do you have any closing thoughts you would like to share?
A: I have been so fortunate over the years. I love my job. It’s a rewarding career because we are helping people find employment in an industry that focuses to advance medicine and, ultimately, to fix, heal, and save lives. Each day is special to me. I am grateful for Aerotek and grateful for all the people who have helped me learn my way in this fantastic industry. Finally, ACRP is the glue for me; it keeps me current and keeps me connected.