Katja Birker is a Senior Life Sciences Specialist (LSS) dedicated to the Life Sciences Biopharma subsector in the L.E.K. Consulting Los Angeles office. She received her Ph.D. in cardiovascular genetics in San Diego, and prior to graduate studies, spent the majority of her lifetime in British Columbia, Canada. Katja will walk through a typical Thursday she recently had with the firm.

7:55 a.m.: I log on to my computer and begin to check through emails that have arrived since I logged off on Wednesday. I am more of a morning person and prefer to sign on early, which my team is happy to accommodate during this case.

8:30 a.m.: I have finished catching up on emails. We have a “team huddle” at 8:30 a.m., in which my manager leads our team (including one consultant, myself, two other LSSs and an associate) through the tasks for the day and we align before pushing forward on our workstreams. I enjoy getting together with the team for alignment since it helps us feel even stronger as a team, and I can clarify points right away before I dive in.

9 a.m.: We have a physician interview that my LSS colleague is leading for one hour. On this particular case, I am in charge of the financial modeling; however, I have more time today and want to listen in to hear the conversation. When I first joined L.E.K., I focused on leading interview campaigns, where I would find key opinion leaders (KOLs), develop an interview guide and lead the interviews. I found it a fascinating way to deep dive on various topic areas to learn about cutting-edge treatments and technologies from well-respected physician leaders. On this case, I was hoping to develop my modeling skills and requested this day one, which led to me being the primary modeler for this case.

10 a.m.: I have carved out three hours of quiet time to focus on the model that I have been developing for two weeks now. It is looking much better than when I started, and I have already learned so much in the past two weeks, which feels very rewarding, despite the small amount of time passed. Today I am building out “flexibility” for my model so that when the client asks for specific values to be changed, we can toggle them easily and show the results in a matter of seconds. This has been a great learning experience considering I had almost no programming skills before joining L.E.K.

1 p.m.: Lunchtime! I am staying in, taking a 30-minute lunch in the office to have some leftovers and chat with colleagues who are also in the breakroom. I prefer to bring my lunch since my frugal ancestors would be screaming if I didn’t; however, we have a great variety of restaurants around the office for my rare “cheat days.”

1:30 p.m.: We have a case team meeting (CTM) with the full L.E.K. team for my case, which includes managing directors. Over the next hour, our team walks through our progress this week and how it relates to the client call that will happen next Tuesday. I chime in for a few questions once we arrive at the forecasting section, and I am happy to have built flexibility into the model this morning to be able to answer questions quickly.

2:30 p.m.: I call the consultant on my team and one of the LSSs to discuss model inputs related to the CTM that we just had. We align on some tweaks to the model, and once again, I feel that I have good “runway,” as we call it, to progress the model on my own. 
3 p.m.: I make adjustments to my model and begin to review the output data. I decide to make slides that show graphs of the output data to share with my team. I am a very visual person, and I think my team will benefit from seeing how the inputs they are helping generate through primary and secondary research look as outputs after being fed through my model.

4 p.m.: I decide to hold an impromptu meeting with my team, including the consultant, LSSs, and associate, and present my data slides. We have a very fruitful discussion on how the data is projecting and how this relates to the client needs and disease market, overall.

4:30 p.m.: I wrap up a few things in my model after the discussion with the team, including adding some additional flexibility and a few notes to clarify how it is meant to be used. I send myself a version of this model so that I have a time stamp associated with the document and am ready to sign off because it is my Out by Six (ObS) night for the week, which is actually by 5 p.m. since I logged on one hour early! I wish the team a great rest of their evening and walk home for the day. 

5:15 p.m.: I arrive home, greet my husband and dog, and we take the dog for a walk together and enjoy the Southern California sunshine. Afterward, we make dinner before heading out for the evening.

7 p.m.: I organize a relatively regular ObB (Out by Boba) evening with my start class of LSSs. All five of us meet together close to the office and enjoy one another’s company. We all have very different Ph.D. backgrounds, and it is funny to think how well we get along despite our differences in education. We sit long, talk much and laugh often until it’s time to go and get back home to bed.