Pharmaceutical Development

Karen – Support Unit Supervisor

I  was born and brought up in Salisbury and first heard about the company through a friend’s mum who used to work in the glass preparation department.  I started  back in 1999 and still fondly remembers the date I joined the team in the Anthrax Vaccine Manufacturing facility as what was known as a “Tech2” in those days.  These days we advertise the roles under the title  of Production Technician.

I joined with the usual  qualifications obtained at school and didn’t have any pharmaceutical experience as such, but the good thing about working here is that you go on a lot of courses  and you  learn from scratch.  That means that  when I started off my tasks were pretty  general, including cleaning, washing the various glassware and packaging up all the specialist equipment that is needed for the vaccine manufacture.  After a couple of years I was then promoted  to a “Tech 3” and given more responsibility.  That was followed in 2008 by a further promotion when I became the Unit Supervisor.

Currently I look after two members of staff and supervise the day to day running of the unit.  This entails ensuring that all the reagents and equipment is properly  prepared  to support the manufacturing and processing activities.  It is important that we follow the standard operating procedures, fill out the log-books and other paperwork, which needs to be checked and then second checked by my trained operators to ensure that we are following the correct procedures.

Training and doing refresher courses is a regular part of the job because the regulations are constantly  being updated and improved.  That is one of the things that I have noticed over the last 18 years Karen says, that the amount of paperwork has increased.  Sometime it can be a challenge to get that all written up, especially if you are in a manufacturing campaign because you are literally in the unit all day.

That can mean staring at half six in the morning and working through till about half three most days.  However because we are growing a bacteria, it is a living organism  and so on certain days you do have to wait until it has reached  the point where you can harvest it. Those can be longer and we can be in anywhere from eight in the morning,  to possibly midnight, but the bonus is that you get the overtime.

We also work around each other and have to plan our breaks so that you can nip out, but I have a great team  that I have worked with for between  10 years and 16 years now.  Although you often do the same day in and day out during manufacturing campaigns,  having a routine is familiar and reassuring.   It is also a modern, clean and nice environment to work in and although some people might think wearing  the cleanroom clothing is unusual, it is  part of my job and I don’t think anything of it now, its just normal.

I am really content with my current position and would not want to leave  the unit.  That because my job gives me a sense of achievement, especially when we have completed a run and get the product out.  It is also good to think that it is there and available to save lives .

Most recently I have been involved in interviewing for new members of staff  to help build some new teams.  I have found the recruitment and interview process  OK  but what  I really like is the more informal chat as you show people round and get to know person better, especially  when  they open up to you.  We already have   two new people in the pipeline ready to start and are recruiting more.

If I could describing the ideal candidate , I would say that I am  looking for a  honest, hard working  individual who is looking to build a career, so someone who is reliable and not scared of work,  ideally someone like the rest of us who is looking  to stay, learn  and become part of the team.

In return  the holidays we offer are  very good  and all the packages that come with the job are brilliant,  for example the  maternity pay…  I was able to take 9 month off  to be with my son.

Outside interests

I used to go the gym a lot said Karen , but my life  revolves around my son who is two and half now, so a lot of my time is taken up  taking him  swimming, to soft-play or just spending  time together .

Looking to the future I am hoping to buy a house and considering one of the new estates that they have just started building around Salisbury.  There are also quite a few other PBL staff buying in the area, so we are building  a bit of a community.