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  • Date posted:17/04/2023
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with Lauren Neighbours

Changing jobs can be an incredibly exciting time, leading to new opportunities to learn and develop… But you might not get the best salary right out of the gate. Unless you know how to negotiate effectively, you’re unlikely to get paid what you’re actually worth.

Katy Barber, one of our Lift Up Ambassadors, got together with Lauren Neighbours to learn her advice on ensuring you’re as prepared as possible for your next negotiation.

Lauren Neighbours, PhD, RAC, is Senior Vice President, Product Development and Regulatory Affairs for Checkpoint Therapeutics, Inc. At Checkpoint, Lauren has spearheaded their 2023 Biologics Licence Application submission to the US FDA for cosibelimab, for the potential treatment of advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

Prior to joining Checkpoint, Lauren served in senior leadership roles at multiple life sciences companies, including Istari Oncology, Optum, and PSI CRO. Lauren is an accomplished scientist and regulatory affairs leader with experience managing multidisciplinary product development programs and numerous regulatory submissions among other accomplishments.

Lauren’s advice includes:

  • Get Informed Before Negotiations
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Get
  • Build Your Support Network
  • Know When to Leave

Ensure You’re Informed Before the Negotiation

When it comes to negotiating, information is the greatest tool you can have in your arsenal. The right information can help you negotiate a better deal, and that isn’t just limited to salary. For instance, if you want to spend more time with loved ones, you may want flexible working or additional holiday days.

Lauren is also a Volunteer Advisor at 81cents, where she advises women on negotiating their pay at new or existing jobs. Some of the advice she provides centres around negotiating an increased salary, better benefits, or something specific their current employer is offering, if they’re looking to get promoted.

81cents was initially founded to try and close the pay gap, because in some industries, women are paid 81 cents on the dollar, compared to men. From there, it grew and expanded into other regions and industries — like the life sciences.

You Can Negotiate More Than Salary

Lauren suggests that many women don’t even realise what they can negotiate for. Some of the things she lists include:

  • Salary
  • Bonuses (different kinds)
  • Sign On Bonus
  • Relocation Costs
  • Equity
  • Vacation/Holiday Time

She explains that most people wouldn’t even consider some of these elements unless someone had given them that advice.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Get

Lauren also gave some advice that resonated with Deborah Wild’s advice on a previous Lift Up Live. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.

Women can feel shy, or lack the confidence to ask for salary increases that suit their position. Lauren herself admitted having these feelings throughout her own career, stating:

“You have a certain level of success and experience, but going after a new position or industry can make you feel uncomfortable. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s something that I’ve had to figure out over time.”

Accept Additional Tasks

In response, if you want to improve your confidence in your own abilities, one piece of actionable advice Lauren suggests is to accept additional responsibilities and opportunities. You can only learn by doing, and this is a great way to organically improve your confidence.

This must be done within reason. If you say “yes” to everything that comes your way, you can quickly put yourself under too much pressure. Try to ensure any extra projects you take on are manageable, but also stretch your abilities.

Build Your Support Network

Of course, taking on more tasks is just one way to improve confidence in your abilities. Another is to build and develop your mentors.

Mentors are an essential part of growth, and they can even be on your level. A mentor’s role is to help guide you through struggles. Often, they will have been through these same struggles too.

If you’ve encountered an issue in your career, your proximity to the situation can make it difficult to know how to proceed. A mentor is slightly removed from your situation, and should be able to give you more clarity, especially if you’re not fully recognising your own abilities.

It goes without saying, that your support network should be diverse. Men and women will offer different advice, suited to different scenarios. By having a more diverse network, you can benefit from different viewpoints. For instance, men are typically more willing to leverage their existing connections to land a role, whereas women aren’t always as comfortable doing that.

The best mentors won’t care about your gender, but about your character and merits. One of Lauren’s best mentors early in her career was David Shoemaker. He hired Lauren out of Graduate school, and into her first industry position. He helped Lauren find clarity in her career plan, frequently brought up opportunities, and set the foundation for the rest of her career.

Reassure Each Other

You aren’t the only one who questions their abilities, which is why it’s important you help reassure others in your network too. If we’re uncomfortable, it’s usually because we’re growing and learning. New can be scary,

If we want to continue working towards gender equity, we need to support each other — including the upcoming generations. Lauren revealed that she’s often met with questions by PhD-level students, or post-doctoral candidates, who are trying to build a career outside of academia.

The same questions frequently arise, such as how to:

  • Get your foot in the door,
  • Apply for roles with X years of necessary experience,
  • Transition between different industries,
  • Build ‘pre-requisite’ skills, like project management.


Reach Out to People

Lauren advises that one of the best things you can do for your career, is to reach out to people — especially if you’re shy.

Reaching out to people, and speaking to new people is an excellent way to build both your confidence, and your network. This network can prove invaluable for your career, especially when planning your next steps. Connections at a certain company can help you land an interview, or provide you with the actionable advice you need to improve.

Not everyone you reach out to will respond, and that’s okay. Someone will, and they’ll be able to advise you or point you towards someone else who can help.

Know When to Leave

You might be happy and comfortable in your current role, but if you want to advance your career, you need to know when to make a move. It’s extremely common for women in male-dominated industries to reach a glass ceiling.

If you feel that your progression is plateauing, or that you’ve progressed as far as you can in an organisation, it’s okay to leave.

Various factors can hold you back; from a lack of open positions, to not being properly valued. Changing employers is a big decision, but it’s one that can bring incredible benefits too. Weigh up your options, but don’t be afraid of opportunities just because you’re not a 100% fit.

Connect with Lauren

If you’re interested in learning more about negotiating and improving your career, we highly recommend connecting with Lauren on LinkedIn.

She offers exceptional advice about improving your career, and is certainly someone worth knowing!