"There are several different blood types, but there's one, O-negative, that's considered the universal donor. It's compatible with any other blood type," says David Jensen '94. "That's how I would describe being a liberal arts major. Liberal arts is what you want to make of it. It's a major that can be applied anywhere."
A Seton Hall alumnus with a bachelor's degree in English, Jensen is currently a senior sales engineer at IQVIA (formerly QuintilesIMS), a company specializing in data, technology solutions, and clinical research operations for the pharmaceutical industry. "When I was younger, I had a neighbor who worked in pharmaceuticals. I always thought what he did was interesting. I always had an interest in the sciences," recalls Jensen. When it was time for him to attend college, he began at the University of Scranton as a chemistry major with a minor in English. Eventually, he made the decision to transfer to Seton Hall – and turned his English minor into a major. "Seton Hall was a better fit for me. It was close to home and close to the metropolitan area, which I was already familiar with," says Jensen. "I also liked that it's a smaller university. There are a lot of different subjects you can major in, but it's not an overwhelming place to be."
"There’s a lot of on-the-job learning of new products and new concepts, and you need to be able to absorb it all. My English background has made it easier for me to do that."
With his degree in tow, Jensen set off to try to apply his liberal arts education to his original passion. Growing up with Merck practically in his backyard, he decided to start there. "Thanks in part to a friend and his father who worked there, I got an opportunity to work summers in their mainframe operations department," says Jensen. Soon afterwards, he landed a job at AT&T at a critical point in the nation's technological history – "right when they started making PC's for people's desks." With this experience under his belt, he returned to Merck, where he spent the next decade gradually making his mark on the company as a technology analyst. "We rolled out a video streaming infrastructure, which was a big deal since this was before YouTube even existed," he says. "We also deployed tools for sales, marketing and research collaboration across the globe."
"When you present to people and train people, as I do, to be able to articulate and communicate concisely is crucial."
Still, Jensen knew he could make even bigger strides as a sales representative and made the transition in 2007. "I did very well in the role, but after about two years in the position the industry shifted for various reasons. There were massive layoffs in the pharmaceutical industry, and I was affected," he recalls. It wasn't long before he got back on his feet in a niche space of the pharmaceutical industry called Managed Markets. Working as a national account manager for Pinsonault Associates, he was responsible for sales of data and analytics. A few years later, he was hired as a sales engineer for Cegedim Relationship Management, which ultimately became his current home, IQVIA.
As a senior sales engineer at IQVIA, Jensen complements the sales process, working between account executives and pharmaceutical companies to sell products and services geared toward sales operations and compliance solutions. His responsibilities include creating and presenting demos and answering customer questions. "One example of how we were able to help these companies is the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which requires all pharmaceutical companies to report to the government any payments or other transfers of value made to physicians," he explains. "We provide tools to help them make this process more efficient."
Reflecting on his career in pharmaceuticals, Jensen can't recall a time when his English degree hasn't come into play. As Jensen explains, it's been particularly useful in his ability to adapt and think on his feet in an industry that constantly evolves. "All along the way I've worked with technology that was truly cutting edge: PC's, collaborative tools, live webcasting and video streaming to name a few. Technology changes so quickly. There’s a lot of on-the-job learning of new products and new concepts, and you need to be able to absorb it all. My English background has made it easier for me to do that," says Jensen.
It’s also had a direct impact on his current responsibilities at IQVIA. "At Seton Hall, my curriculum included public speaking. When you present to people and train people, as I do, to be able to articulate and communicate concisely is crucial," he says. "That obviously comes from having a background in English and being well read and well written." He adds, "People even take me with them to business meetings. They say, 'You're a great ice breaker and you find a way to talk to people.' I think that comes from a well rounded education."