Aon’s Neil Toner discusses his role as an analyst working in the life sciences space and shares his personal productivity tips.
When Neil Toner was offered a position in Aon’s Life Sciences Risk Consulting Practice, the idea of working with a large multinational organisation was “attractive” to him.
Toner joined the team in January 2022 as part of the company’s Launch Programme, an early career programme for graduates. Since then, he has progressed to his current role as an analyst.
Prior to joining Aon, Toner studied business and management at Technological University Dublin and completed a master’s degree in management consultancy at University College Dublin’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
‘The life sciences industry is constantly evolving with many new therapies across different therapeutic areas being launched’
If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?
One of the most enjoyable parts of the job is that no two days are ever the same!
I begin each day by creating a to-do list of what must be done for the day. I keep myself motivated through ticking each task off as I complete them. This helps me see my progress through a busy day.
I often have calls throughout my day, both internally and with clients. The team and I always forward plan to ensure we have any material required for the call prepared well in advance, helping to share the workload between us.
Our team work very flexibly and are constantly in direct communication throughout the day. Asking questions within the team helps us to get through our workload as effectively and efficiently as possible. Communication throughout any team is a key component to delivering projects on time and rectifying any issues as they arise.
The tool I use most in my role is Microsoft PowerPoint. I enjoy the freedom to be creative within how to deliver our content both internally and to clients. One of the more challenging aspects of my job to date has been learning how to deliver our content in a succinct way. A key part of my role is taking feedback on board and applying it to future projects.
What types of analytics projects do you work on?
Two specific projects I have worked on in the past that involve analytics include a market-sizing model to understand the size of an opportunity in a selected market and insurance product development analysis.
Our team were requested by a client to create a model to understand how many individuals would be eligible to use a product in a selected European market. One of the advantages of working for Aon is being able to leverage the expertise from our colleagues in different markets which helped us deliver this project.
I also get exposure to insurance product development analysis in my role. The in-depth analysis typically sits with my colleagues in the actuarial practice, however, we support them with obtaining information to complete this task for a client.
What are the hardest parts of your working day and how do you navigate them?
The most difficult part of my working day is maintaining concentration when working from home. As someone who is very active, I struggle to spend long periods sitting at my desk. This is especially difficult when you have a day of many calls to attend to.
I have identified that some walking or stretching at least once every hour is massively beneficial for me. This could be anything such as refilling a glass of water or doing some work in a standing position at your desk. I try my best to get some fresh air during my lunch break to keep my mind refreshed.
Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the day?
Often, I can struggle with tasks or projects where I cannot see the finish line. Breaking down larger tasks into smaller, more achievable tasks is a great way to help me get through a busy day.
Separating more difficult tasks from simpler tasks also helps me maximise productivity during the day. Where possible, I try to complete my more difficult tasks in the morning or after lunch as this is when my brain is the most refreshed. The tasks I find more difficult would include a lot of strategic thinking with simpler tasks being more process driven.
Tell me about the challenges that are unique to risk consulting when it comes to life sciences companies?
The life sciences industry is constantly evolving with many new therapies across different therapeutic areas being launched. It can be viewed as a challenge, however, it can be an opportunity to learn from our clients who are some of the most innovative companies across the globe.
I subscribe to life sciences newsletters and major news outlets to keep me updated with industry news and emerging trends. I try to allocate 10 minutes each morning to this task.
How has your role evolved since you started?
My role has evolved massively to the point where I am now taking on considerably more responsibility within client projects. When required, I liaise directly with clients and also support project delivery from start to finish.
We also have been expanding our team and I enjoy being part of the integration process for our new graduates into our team and sharing my experience as a grad. I have been the ‘buddy’ of four new joiners to Aon in the last year and look forward to continuing this role in the future.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
I have no doubt that working with my team is the most enjoyable part of my job. I thoroughly believe that my experience in a graduate programme has been unique. My team has invested a lot of time in my development and given me exposure to a range of projects which has been a steep but valuable learning experience at such an early stage of my career.
I am lucky to work in a global role and I believe everyone can benefit from the experience of working with different cultures particularly so early in their careers. I have been able to travel to many locations such as London, Zurich, Copenhagen and Madrid to work with a range of innovative life sciences companies on many different projects.
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