» Featured Articles
» Subscription Information
» Reader Survey
» Companies Actively Recruiting
Heal, Fuel & Feed
Careers in the bioscience fields of pharmaceuticals, biotech and biomed remain in demand.
Despite some turns in the market in 2016, a study released by the BIO International Convention last summer showed that the bioscience industry remains strong and resilient with great job prospects.
“This report highlights the long-term expansion of our industry and the significant impact of the high-paying jobs that come with developing the innovative technologies that are helping to heal, fuel and feed the world. These biotech jobs are a critical economic component to states and local communities across the nation,” according to Jim Greenwood, BIO president and CEO, about the report.
Here, five woman engineers talk about their careers in this dynamic and innovative field, as well as discuss how they’re making a significant impact on the health of the nation - and the world.
Malo-Alvarez Moves Forward at CSL Behring
After working in the consumer goods industry for a number of years, Sonia Malo-Alvarez began thinking about what she really wanted out of a future career. What she wanted, she found at CSL Behring, which has U.S. headquarters in King of Prussia, PA.
Malo-Alvarez is a maintenance specialist at the company’s Kankakee, IL manufacturing site where she collaborates with engineering, maintenance, manufacturing, safety and quality teams to ensure the long-term maintenance of equipment and facilities.
“I knew that I wanted to use my engineering degree, my energy and strengths for a greater purpose: to help people,” says Malo-Alvarez. “Having a loved one who struggles daily with a disability has also been my inspiration. It has concerned me so much, that I feel compelled to do something about it. My career inspirations stem from my genuine passion for the well-being and health of people.
CSL Behring, whose parent company is Melbourne, Australia-headquartered CSL Limited, is committed to saving lives and improving the quality of life for people with rare diseases via the use of plasma protein therapeutics, having perfected the science of fractionating plasma. The company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016.
“We are driven by our promise to our patients, and our research focuses in large part on serving unmet medical needs. I know my colleagues share my view,” she notes.
Malo-Alvarez is currently working on a project team responsible for capacity expansion at the Kankakee site, including the replacement of an older production facility with a new facility that will have increased production capacity. The new facility includes three new major structures: production, utilities and critical systems. As the plant continues to expand, there is plenty of room for growth and career opportunities at the Kankakee site.
Malo-Alvarez enjoys collaborating with multiple functions within the company to help solve problems, as well as being able to make recommendations for improvements using her past experience. But what she enjoys most is learning new things.
“Since this is my first time working in a biopharmaceutical company, I’m always learning something new. I wake up every morning knowing that I come to work because someone’s life may depend on it.”
Initially, Malo-Alvarez wasn’t interested in pursuing engineering; early in her academic career, she had only planned on obtaining her associate degree in computer aided design and drafting. But after two professors asked if she planned to go to engineering school, and then a high school geometry teacher asked the same question a few months later, she started thinking differently.
“He told me ‘Sonia, you need to keep moving forward. Do not stop and do not settle,’” she says of her conversation with her high school teacher. “At that point I was scratching my head and actually contemplating if I wanted to go into engineering.”
By the end of that year, she went back to both professors to ask for recommendation letters for engineering school and was admitted into the electrical engineering program at Purdue University. She’s currently pursuing a master of biotechnology enterprise and entrepreneurship degree from Johns Hopkins University.
“The advice to continue moving forward still resonates with me today,” shares Malo-Alvarez. “I find myself always looking to the future for the next challenge.”
Go to cslbehring.com/careers for CSL Behring careers. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Fickr.
CSL Behring’s Bio
CSL Behring is a global biotherapeutics provider whose parent company is CSL Limited. It develops therapies for coagulation disorders, primary immune deficiencies, hereditary angioedema, inherited respiratory disease and neurological disorders, and operates CSL Plasma, a plasma collection network. Its products are also used in cardiac surgery, organ transplantation, burn treatment and the prevention of hemolytic disease in newborns.
Glean more at cslbehring.com.
Morris Drives Innovation at AT&T Foundry
As a caregiver to a spouse with a neurological disorder who requires 24/7 care, Nadia Morris is uniquely prepped for her role as head of innovation at the AT&T Foundry for Connected Healthcare. Housed within the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute campus in Houston, the Foundry opened in June 2016.
There are other Foundry locations, too: one in Israel, one in Palo Alto, CA, one in Atlanta, GA and two in Plano, TX.
“It started to hit home for me when I was in Silicon Valley faxing documents, coordinating care, providing information to doctors….My head was filling with ideas of how we can improve this process not just for patients, but for caregivers, as well. I want us to reinvent healthcare and leverage our network to amplify how we help people,” says Morris.
The Foundry focuses on digital health innovations and the use of Internet of Things (IoT) applications to develop healthcare solutions.
To accomplish that, Morris, a “recovering software engineer,” oversees a team of biomedical engineers who work with device manufacturers, hospitals, doctors, payers and regulators to find ways for AT&T to use technology to improve healthcare.
In January the Foundry launched its first successful product by partnering with startup Aira to provide wireless connectivity for Aira’s technology platform to assist the blind and visually impaired. Aira, aira.io, is a remote assistance technology platform designed to help blind and low-vision users gain greater independence.
Blending wearable, connectivity and human-assisted artificial intelligence, Aira’s smart glasses connect to a remote agent so they can “see through their eyes,” quickly and efficiently giving visually impaired customers information about their surroundings.
“We built the infrastructure together,” explains Morris. “We’re not going out and building new, we want to collaborate with people are already making devices and find ways to make them better.”
In addition to the ability to drive first-rate innovation in the field, Morris appreciates the fact that even though she’s in a leadership position, she still gets to do technical work.
“Rather than be pigeonholed into one piece of technology, I get to see [the] entire stack end to end,” she says. “I like that I can apply all of that to find solutions to solve real big problems, especially healthcare.”
Morris, who’s mentored youth trying to get into technical fields, advises those entering the field to “find the job or the role in the company no one wants to do, then do it better than anyone else ever done.”
She continues: “What I did when started at BellSouth was security systems, which no one wanted to touch with a 10-foot pole. Everyone realized it was the hardest stuff to do, but I worked at it, [and] did it with success. That opened so many more doors, so then you get to do more of the fun stuff.”
Because healthcare is multi-faceted, success in biomed comes from having both technical knowledge and knowledge of healthcare.
“In this field, you have to a width breadth of knowledge, but you have to understand the foundation on which everything is laid before you can figure out how to build on top of it,” asserts Morris.
In this field, that means understanding HIPPA and high-tech regulations. “You have to know what kind of sandbox you’re playing in.”
Access att.jobs/doing-great-things/innovation/att-foundry for AT&T Foundry career paths. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
AT&T Foundry’s Bio
The AT&T Foundry for Connected Healthcare is housed within the Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute campus in Houston. It opened in June 2016. It is one of now six AT&T Foundry locations. All are focused on different areas and all connect with cutting-edge innovators and technologies that will deliver new valuable products and services to customers.
Acquire more at about.att.com/innovation/foundry.
Mootoo Maintains Safety at Shire
Safety, integrity and quality are paramount for Nicola M. Mootoo.
She’s a senior validation engineer with Shire, providing a high degree of assurance that the drugs Shire produces are safe and that the systems and equipment that support the production of the drugs are maintained.
For example, she reviews and approves test plans that are executed to document evidence that equipment and processes behave as they should and in alignment with regulations that are set forth by bodies like the FDA and their counterparts in Europe, Canada, Asia and Latin America.
Recently she completed a two-year-long project to remediate the autoclaves at Shire - whose U.S. headquarters is in Lexington, MA - so its operations complied with the most stringent regulations identified. This project was highly visible to senior leadership and time-sensitive; it also was a stepping stone for Mootoo’s career, who moved into her current role about a year ago.
“It was technically challenging, involved a high degree of project management and quality oversight, and allowed me the opportunity to supervise personnel,” she says of the project.
With a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering and material science, Mootoo’s engineering background presented her with a wide range of career opportunities, but the biotech/pharmaceutical industry was the most appealing as “its primary goal is to meet the needs of the patients. It was also an exciting field to get into as it continuously evolves to align with advancements in drug technologies.”
It’s particularly exciting to work at Shire, which specializes in drugs that treat rare diseases.
“I remember specifically thinking during my interview that I would love to work for a company that was a champion for such a small percentage of the world’s population and how brave it was that Shire was giving them hope to lead better lives. I’ve worked at Shire for almost nine years, and as the company has grown, I’m happy that their vision continues to put patients at the forefront,” she states
For a college student preparing for a similar field, the ability to think creatively and problem solve is critical. Hands-on experience is also important.
“The classes I found to be most helpful now in my career, where the thinking from those carried over to today, were those classes that focused on recognizing problems and coming up with effective solutions such as engineering design classes,” Mootoo elaborates.
“Internships, research opportunities or other experiences that provide hands-on activities related to the biotech/pharma field expand how you think, which is important as you have to be agile and knowledgeable with decision-making.”
Whether you’re seeking a job in the field or looking to advance in your career, Mootoo offers some basic but key advice: build strong relationships.
“I find this to be important in many ways, in that it helps you understand different points of views, [and you] can assist with development opportunities, can help with solidifying your professional reputation and, most importantly, [can] forge lasting relationships with potential mentors and mentees.”
Go to jobs.shire.com for Shire career possibilities. Connect on LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube.
Shire is a global biotechnology company whose products are in core therapeutic areas including hematology, immunology, neuroscience, ophthalmics, lysosomal storage disorders, gastrointestinal/internal medicine/endocrine and hereditary angioedema, and an increasing number of products in oncology.
Glean more at shire.com.
Illumina’s Washington Improves Healthcare by Applying Technology
Cicely Washington’s fascination with the human body led her to earn a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. It also led her to San Diego, CA-headquartered Illumina, where she serves as the company’s product manager of clinical research arrays.
“I seek ways to facilitate the application of our technology to improve healthcare,” says Washington. To do that, in her role, she serves as a liaison between the field and Illumina’s internal R&D and operations team. “I love my job because I’m constantly learning and challenging myself and others to better serve our customers.”
Prior to joining Illumina, Washington worked for Abbott Molecular and Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. With the company for two years, Washington was attracted to the Illumina as “it is the market leader in next-generation sequencing and the power that the technology has to influence health in a multifaceted fashion.”
Illumina is a global leader in genomics, developing, manufacturing and marketing integrated systems for the analysis of genetic variation and function.
Most recently, Washington was part of a multifunctional team driving systemic improvements to better enable the company to support customers performing high-throughput, routine testing.
“I believe strongly in Illumina’s vision of improving human health via unleashing a greater understanding of genetics,” says Washington. “What makes it an even better place to work is working side by side with so many intelligent and diverse people who also believe in the vision and show up daily, enthusiastic, to make a difference.”
While “engineer” isn’t in Washington’s job title, it’s embedded in all she does.
“I approach every situation with the mindset of an engineer first, which means there’s a process that, when followed, will deliver results. With time, I’ve studied the interpersonal skills required to be successful and layer those onto my engineering foundation. This becomes increasingly important as my dependency on others to achieve results increases.”
To Washington, networking is important both in the job search and for career advancement. “Every opportunity is a person away. By growing and nourishing my network, I’ve been exposed to many opportunities and, most often, when I was not actively seeking them,” she remarks.
Success in engineering comes from understanding you don’t have all the answers, according to Washington.
“Engineering teaches us to break down complex systems and understand the dependencies,” she says. “By honing this skill, it allows us to take a holistic approach to finding solutions. This requires asking questions of specialty experts to enhance the appreciation of the dependencies.”
Inspect illumina.com/company/careers.html for Illumina job possibilities. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Illumina is a global developer, manufacturer and marketer of life science tools and integrated systems for large-scale analysis of genetic variation and function, serving customers in the research, clinical and applied markets. Its products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture and other emerging segments.
Understand more at illumina.com.
Engineering Is the Ideal Fit for Novo Nordisk’s Emanuel
Nina Emanuel believes her career “chose” her.
Today she’s a project manager for Novo Nordisk’s pharmaceutical manufacturing site in Clayton, NC, overseeing highly technical process automation projects for the company’s manufacturing IT systems.
But, initially, Emanuel pursued engineering not as a destination, but as a stepping stone to a medical degree.
“I initially majored in chemical engineering as it appeared to be a good fit for developing the analytical mindset needed for medical school. Along the way, life and love changed my mind,” elaborates Emanuel.
Having completed a professional internship during her senior year, Emanuel was well-prepared to join the pharmaceutical industry after college. She received a full-time job offer for a position as a validation engineer immediately upon graduating as a prestigious Park Scholar from North Carolina State University.
Later, moving to a position in engineering project management became an “easy fit” for her personality, education and skill set.
“For the last seven years, I’ve been adding ‘tools to my toolbox’ and have tackled projects of increasing responsibility and coordination. In the end I would say that my career chose me,” she explains.
She particularly loves that her job is never the same. “Each project is different, and each project team is unique. As a project manager, I have one of the most diverse job functions, and I’m able to interact with dynamic, cross-functional teams.”
With the company for nearly two years, Novo Nordisk - whose U.S. headquarters is in Plainsboro, NJ and global headquarters is in Bagsvaerd, Denmark - was attractive to Emanuel for several reasons, including the company’s commitment to balancing work with personal life. Professional flexibility is another benefit.
“Our employees are constantly ‘on the move.’ By providing people with diverse opportunities, individual contributors are able to bring different perspectives to each new role. This enrichment and professional development strategy is often mutually beneficial to both the employee and the company,” she says.
While networking is key in all industries, it’s especially important in smaller ones such as the pharmaceutical industry, contends Emanuel.
“Be sure to stay connected with neighbors, friends from college and colleagues from previous jobs by sending emails or catching up for lunch. The pharmaceutical industry, like many others, is relatively small. You will often encounter some of the same people again at a new location, in a new role. Maintaining relationships will open doors for career changes and professional mentorship.”
On the topic of mentorship, she notes it’s important in all stages of one’s career and may not be limited to a single person.
“Look to your college professors, your previous managers and coworkers. Don’t forget you, too, can provide mentorship early in your career, perhaps to aspiring high school or college students,” Emanuel encourages.
Navigate novonordisk-us.com/careers.html and novonordisk.com/careers.html for Novo Nordisk jobs. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.
Novo Nordisk’s Bio
Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with more than 90 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. It also tackles other serious chronic conditions such as rare bleeding disorders, growth hormone-related disorders and obesity.
Know more at novonordisk-us.com and novonordisk.com.
» Feedback for the Editor
» Request Article Copy