I am a Technical Operations Manager at FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies.
I manage a team of Engineers and Scientists whose job it is to introduce new products into our Biologics Manufacturing Facilities at FUJIFILM. Our facility makes a variety of different medicines for our customers every year, and my team specify and introduce the specific equipment required for each product, write all the operations instructions and ensure the environmental and safety impact of manufacturing each product is suitable managed and mitigated. My role is to ensure the team is able to support the manufacturing facility in with all that is required for each new product and that they are individually challenged and developed by the work they do.
I studied Maths, Chemistry and Physics at A-Level before completing a Chemical Engineering Masters degree at the University of Manchester. I also completed an industrial placement year at Chevron’s Oil Refinery in Pembrokeshire. On graduation I moved to Teesside where I started work as a Graduate Process Engineer for SABIC UK Petrochemicals on their Ethylene Cracker. I then moved to be a Plant Support Engineer, Technical Plant Manager and then Operations Manager for their Logistics assets on Teesside. In this role I was responsible for the safe and reliable operation of 4 jetties and a number of liquefaction plants and storage tanks where over 1 million tonnes of high hazard hydrocarbons moved around each year. After 13 years at SABIC I moved to FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies to my current role as Technical Operations Manager for the Mammalian Cell Culture manufacturing asset.
My proudest moment so far was being awarded WES Top 50 Women in Engineering in 2021.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
First thing every morning I attend our plant’s daily meeting where we discuss safety issues, maintenance, production issues and the plan for that day. Mid-morning I also attend a site-wide operations meeting where every individual manufacturing plant as well as Supply Chain, Engineering and Maintenance bring up any issues they have to be resolved. The rest of my days are really varied – I could be interviewing for new team members, running a risk assessment for a new project, discussing equipment improvements with suppliers or investigating process upsets with our customers.
What advice would you give to your 15 year old self
Stay true to yourself and don’t be afraid to take an opportunity when it comes along!
Who or what inspired you to get into engineering?
Being taken to the Science Museum in Birmingham with my Grandparents from a young age and asking how everything worked!
What are your favourite hobbies, or interests?
I am a keen sailor and a few years ago took some unpaid leave from work to sail across the Atlantic with some friends. I also enjoy participating in triathlons and hill walking and play the oboe in a local amateur orchestra. I am also a volunteer for a local not for profit reusable nappy library helping other parents to use reusable nappies and wipes. The rest of my spare time is spent with my two children aged 2 and 5!
What are the best and worst things about the job?
The best thing is being able to say that I help to make medicines that can help people. The worst thing is that the job is never done! There is always more to do and improvements to be made so it can be hard to know when to stop.
Where do you see your industry in 25-50 years' time?
Biotechnology is currently booming and expanding hugely. I think gene therapies where medicines can be tailored to individual patients is a really exciting area of the industry and one that should become more mainstream in coming years.
Have you had any career setbacks or challenges you have had to overcome?
The biggest change in my career has been taking two maternity leaves and returning to work part time afterwards. Returning to the workplace as a parent meant my priorities had shifted, but I have been very fortunate that both SABIC and FUJIFILM have been very accommodating to part time working. I am determined that continuing to work part time won’t hinder my career development, and am a active supporter for other colleagues and team members who choose to work part time.