It's most definitely a career with a purpose," says Thom Rowland of his job at Marietta, Ga.-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals, where he's vice president of US commercial operations for Solvay's gastroenterology and women's health product lines.

Since joining Solvay five years ago, Rowland moved up from product manager for a single drug, Luvox, to business director of gastroenterology marketing, to the position he holds today, overseeing about 290 employees.

That trajectory took commitment, focus, and lots of elbow grease. "I'd say this is a 60-hour a week job, not including the mental time I'm burning on the weekends," comments the 39-year-old father of four. "And there's quite a bit of travel, because of the global nature of our industry now – the days of developing a drug for the US market are pretty much over."

Some outside the industry may view bench scientists and clinical trial researchers as the heart...

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