A Day in the Life of a Principal Trainer

Nicola Barker, Principal Trainer

Nicola Barker is currently a principal trainer at PPD within the global biostatistics and programming department (B&P). She began her career in 2006 as an associate statistician at PPD, and progressed up the career ladder to biostatistics team leader. Earlier this year, she transferred into the global training team within biostatistics and programing.

Interviewer: What are your responsibilities within B&P as a principal trainer?

Nicola: I plan for, prepare and give training to associates joining PPD at the graduate level. Working with subject matter experts or SMEs, we develop modules to cover key areas and then deliver the training globally, scheduling the training to ensure we cater to associates in different time zones.

I have been involved with the global team training modules. I was one of the authors and presenters for module one. I manage the WebEx meetings and have been working on the materials for our internal BioWiki, which includes recordings of the training sessions. This has been a great opportunity for me to develop my skills in producing training materials.

These are two of the many different areas I am now involved with.

Interviewer: What does a typical day look like for you?

Nicola: A typical day involves catching up on any emails that have arrived overnight and preparing myself for the day ahead. I am free to manage and plan my own time and prioritize my workload. 

I tend to have a couple of hours giving associate training via phone with screen share and video. After the training, I take time to absorb what worked and what didn’t, making notes in order to improve plans, materials or my own skills. I’ll then spend a few hours looking at the materials for the next day, making sure I know which topics I want to emphasize and demonstrate.

Usually I have other meetings throughout the day, each with some prep and follow-up. I may have some recordings to edit or post, BioWiki updates to make, training materials to develop or review, emails to address, questions from associates and also my own professional development, such as the PPD Professional Excellence Program for Training Professionals.

Interviewer: How has your career developed since joining PPD?

Nicola: I have always been ambitious and keen to progress up the career ladder. I started at PPD in 2006 as an associate statistician and reached biostats team leader in 2014. I undertook numerous lead statistician and biostatistics project lead roles during that time, and also took online management responsibilities.

In November 2015 I received the opportunity to travel to the Bengaluru office and provide training there. This opportunity emphasized that training was something I wanted to do more of. In April 2016 I moved into the role of principal trainer and have not looked back since!

Interviewer: What do you enjoy the most about being a principal trainer?

Nicola: I enjoy having the time to work on those things that we all know need to be done, but do not have the time to do when working on projects. It is so important when working globally to have a consistent understanding of everything we do. There is a huge amount of material out there, and it is great to be a part of pulling it all together, improving it and making it available to all.

I have always been a “people person” and enjoy working with others. In this role I love that every day I have opportunities to work with people at all levels in all regions.

Interviewer: Why do you enjoy working for PPD?

Nicola: My 10-year anniversary at PPD is coming soon and I am very happy here. I feel lucky to work in a role which I find enjoyable and fulfilling, where I feel I can make a difference while building relationships with colleagues around the world.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to someone interested in being a principal trainer at PPD?

Nicola: Go for it! You will not regret it. It is an excellent opportunity to use all your skills and experience in a different way, knowing that you are contributing towards the development of others.

To discover your potential with PPD, please visit www.ppdi.com/careers.