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Working at Panda: Merel Van Os | Team Leader, Delivery Division

31 January 2022

By Merel Van Os

Working at Panda: Merel Van Os | Team Leader, Delivery Division

Have you ever wondered what working in life sciences recruitment is like?

Whether you’re an experienced recruitment consultant or entirely new to recruitment and looking for a new challenge, working in life sciences recruitment could be the ideal career for you.

We spoke with Team Leader of the Delivery Division, Merel van Os, about her experience working at Panda International as a life sciences Recruitment Consultant.

Here’s what she had to say.

An introduction to Merel

Having worked at Panda for two and a half years, Merel began her career in life sciences recruitment with a primary goal – rapid career development.

“I came from a completely different industry, but I chose Panda because I thought I could develop myself rapidly in the company.”

Like every employee that joins Panda to begin their life sciences recruitment career, Merel began as a trainee and worked her way up to Senior Consultant quite rapidly.

Interestingly, having had some experience in sales, Merel realised that the best fit for her was more of a hybrid role – Team Leader for the Delivery Division, account management, and active sales – with Panda creating a role that combined all aspects of Merel’s prior experience.

Running a team of six and working on large accounts, such as Johnson & Johnson and Amgen, Merel began at entry-level and is now utilising all of the skills she’s learned from the very beginning to thrive in her role.

What did you do prior to life sciences recruitment?

Merel’s background prior to life sciences recruitment was hospitality.

“Next to my studies I always did hospitality, and I chose to stay there in the sense that I was always developing myself there as well, and at one point was Managing Director for multiple companies with around 80-90 people below me.”

Management roles are something that Merel has had experience with since her teenage years. She soon realised, however, that once she hit a certain point in the industry, the opportunities would stagnate unless she wanted to open up her own hospitality venue.

“For me, I really like hospitality and generally like most people in it, but it can be quite conservative and sometimes you miss a bit of energy and dynamics – people around you are not that eager to make the better version of themselves.” 

Primarily, Merel was looking for something dynamic, where she could grow with a steep learning curve, which was where she found recruitment.

“I was really looking for something dynamic, something where I could grow with a steep learning curve.”

The importance of customer service and delivering a high-quality experience are skills that Merel was able to transfer from her time in hospitality.

What is your team like?

Merel’s team is made up of life sciences recruiters of all levels, including the trainee that she initially began with in her team, Aimee, who has recently been promoted to Senior Consultant.

What makes Merel’s team so dynamic is the diversity.

“What is really similar is that everyone is very energetic, very solution-minded. I think we’ve got a very good flow in our team.”

One goal in 2022 for Panda and Merel is increasing the Delivery Division by 15 to 17 people, which is an ambitious, but in her opinion, very achievable goal.

What are some exciting things you’re working on at the minute?

One aspect of her job that gives Merel a lot of energy is training other people and watching them do well, such as Aimee a member of her team that is on the career path to be a Team Leader herself. 

There are also exciting opportunities when working with the likes of Moderna.

“The time that we’re in right now, the kind of people that you place, you get the feeling that it has an added value to it,” continuing, “I also worked on a very big Moderna project so, of course, it’s very interesting to know that you can place an entire team that’s building the lab for Moderna.”

When taking into account the pandemic, being able to work on such exciting and significant projects is impressive, Merel says.

What are the development opportunities at Panda?

The development opportunities are also extremely exciting, though Merel notes that this is a two-way street – what people can bring to the table and what Panda can offer them – as evidenced in Aimee’s promotion to Senior Consultant in nine months due to her devotion and ability to put in the time.

This type of rapid development is rare in other companies, yet due to the ambitious and hard-working nature of Panda employees, combined with the incentives Panda offers, career progression is fast and lucrative.

Onboarding is a very engaging process of spending time together, observing calls, a mix of online and in-person training, and even role plays.

The development process proves that you can advance your career rapidly if you put in the work!

What is the culture like at Panda?

“Right now, it’s been one of my favourite times in the company so far, because we have multiple people, everyone is just very eager, very energetic.”

Though the term ‘family culture’ can be overused, Merel believes that in Panda’s case, this is true because of the closeness of the team – a result of the intensity of recruitment and the time spent together.

New people match very well with this fun culture, from table tennis in the office to incentives such as trips (including a recent trip to Dubai!).

What do you see on the horizon for Panda?

Even with the pandemic in mind, the goals that Panda have set are achievable, and importantly, exciting.

“We’re in a really strong position right now. We have a really solid base of recruiters, a very good group of new people as well, and I really feel that the ambitious plans that have been made can be reached.”

Why should someone join Panda?

Many recruitment agencies are copy and paste – with big offices, huge departments, and hundreds of people that make it a struggle to stand out. Panda, however, is a diverse company.

“You have so many recruitment companies, and we all do something different. The reason that I chose Panda is that it’s a small organisation, but it’s so ambitious – if you step in now, there’s so much room for development and so many possibilities.”

Panda International, as the name suggests, is an international business, with a diverse group of employees to match.

Which employee benefits do you appreciate the most?

Having a lot of people around that are similar in personality is one of Merel’s favourite perks of working at Panda.

Beyond that, there is also the opportunity to earn a lot of money – working hard so that you can enjoy your time when away from work – develop quickly, and enjoy social activities that range from monthly lunch clubs to trip incentives, and even team sports activities!

Being able to reflect on two and half years of working at Panda, Merel’s biggest takeaway is that for those looking for significant, fast development in an environment of like-minded people, Panda is the ideal place to work.


Do you want to be a part of the Panda International team? Take a look at our vacancies and start your bespoke career path today.

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