NTU Career Tracks 2024

A Career in Biomedical Sciences: Chan Zhi Hui

Tell us about your role and main responsibilities.

I am in my current role as a Production Engineer at GSK as part of the Future Leaders Programme. I am responsible for ensuring the smooth manufacturing of a vital respiratory medicine. This involves coordinating with different teams to develop monthly production schedules, optimising the production process, and troubleshooting any hiccups that pop up during the campaign. Leading quality and safety investigations, I am also the go-to person for plant modification activities and continuous improvement projects in my production module. It is a dynamic role that keeps me on my toes and lets me be a part of something truly impactful.

What made you pursue a career in this sector?

My decision to venture into the pharmaceutical sector was fuelled by a simple yet powerful motivation – the opportunity to create a real impact on people’s lives. I found the field to be uniquely cool, as it combines the rigor of science and innovation with the practicality of delivering life-saving medications. The knowledge that my work directly contributes to producing these crucial drugs is deeply fulfilling.

What is particularly exciting about this industry is its constant evolution. It is a realm where you never stop learning and growing. The opportunity to explore cutting-edge technologies and be part of a dynamic, and ever-changing landscape is what keeps me engaged and inspired. In a nutshell, the pharmaceutical sector is not just about making medicine; it is about doing so in a highly professional and purposeful way.

What do you enjoy most about this role?

The daily challenges are what make this role truly exciting for me. Each day is a fresh opportunity to problem-solve, innovate, and enhance our processes. It is a high-energy, fastpaced environment that keeps me on my toes and genuinely engaged. However, what adds a unique layer of satisfaction to my work is the close collaboration with the dedicated technicians who work hands-on with our product.

Working side by side with these experts provides a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in manufacturing a crucial respiratory medicine. Their practical insights and feedback are invaluable, and the sense of teamwork and shared purpose is something I cherish. Moreover, being part of a diverse team, each member excelling in their respective fields, has broadened my horizons and significantly enriched my professional growth.

What were some work challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?

One of the significant challenges that come with my role is the need to navigate unexpected issues during manufacturing campaigns. These hiccups can disrupt meticulously planned schedules and even impact the quality of our life-saving product, which we always prioritise for the sake of the patients it serves. The other unwavering priority is the safety of our dedicated staff.

To address these challenges, I have learnt to keep a level head under pressure. Staying calm is crucial as it allows me to think rationally and make informed decisions. Collaborating with cross-functional teams is another key approach. Effective communication and fostering a proactive attitude within the team have been pivotal in swiftly identifying and addressing issues. This way, we not only find quick solutions but also minimise the potential setbacks, ensuring the quality and safety standards we uphold are never compromised.

What is needed to be successful in this role?

In this role, a cocktail of skills, habits of mind, and strategies proves essential for success. First, technical proficiency is key, as it underpins everything we do. Attention to detail is nonnegotiable; it ensures product quality and, most importantly, the safety of our patients.

However, it is not just about the technical know-how. Being adaptable, inquisitive, and solution-oriented is equally vital. This ever-evolving industry demands an appetite for continuous learning and the curiosity to explore emerging technologies and best practices. Effective communication and teamwork are linchpins since collaboration across diverse groups is the norm. The ability to approach challenges with an unwavering determination to find solutions is the cornerstone of success in this role.

Share your advice with students who are keen to pursue a career in your field.

For students aspiring to enter the pharmaceutical industry, be open to embrace curiosity. This field is ever-changing, and there is always room for innovation. Seek internships and opportunities to get hands-on experience. Do not be afraid to ask questions and learn from your colleagues. And remember, it is not just about the technical skills; your ability to collaborate and adapt will set you apart. Lastly, stay passionate about making a positive impact on people’s lives through the medicines you help produce. It is a rewarding journey worth pursuing.