'A day in the life of Jo Hay' - Business Development Director30 Nov 2020
Did you know that unlike other recombinant human albumin manufacturers, Albumedix are so much more than simply ‘an albumin supplier’? When you work with us, you also get access to 100 brilliant minds behind the vial, including a dedicated Business Development Director responsible for managing your account. In our most recent ‘A Day in the Life’ interview we caught up with Joanna Hay, Albumedix Business Development Director covering Europe and learned about the kind of work she gets up to in a typical day, from the run-of-the-mill to the extraordinary.
Jo, thanks so much for your time today. Can you tell me a little about your background and education, possibly create a short profile about yourself? Essentially, I’d love to know how you arrived in the position you’re currently in.
Of course. I’m from Devon originally, I came up to the Midlands to study. My first degree was in Biochemistry from Birmingham University. When I finished that, started a job in industry. During that time, I really enjoyed the science, so I made the decision to leave and do a PhD in Biochemistry at Leicester University which took around 4 years. This allowed by to recognise that I really enjoy applied science. So afterwards, I joined Delta Biotechnology which later went on to become Novozymes, before then eventually becoming Albumedix. At that time, I was a molecular biologist and part of the R&D team. I spent a number of years doing that before I broadened my skills to do project management, so then not only was I doing the molecular biology side but bringing a team together to deliver on an industry relevant project. In some instances, the projects were on behalf of clients, helping with their individual projects relating to our drug delivery technology, Veltis®. After doing that, I moved into a commercial role working with clients using Veltis Technology and also our Recombumin® products.
Sounds as though you've been with the company for a long time then in one form or another, do you know how long it has been in total?
About 14 years I would say.
Wow. Can I ask, what about outside of work? Do you have any hobbies?
I have a family, so a lot of my time is spent with them. When I do get time to myself the hobby which has stuck with me the longest is running. My most recent challenge was really tough, a 20-mile trail run, but I love a challenge so I'm already looking forward to others in the future!
Can you run me through (no pun intended) what a typical day entails at work for you? From the first thing you do when you walk through the door, to the run-of-the-mill, to the big projects you’re a part of.
So, I would say that every day is different, which I love! It always begins with checking my schedule and pretty much every day will be a mix of customer meetings and more run-of-the-mill things. Right now, of course the customer meetings are all video calls. Usually we would be doing a lot of travelling, not just to the meetings but also to conferences allowing us to expand our network and meet other people, but that’s obviously a bit more challenging at the moment with the COVID 19 pandemic so we are doing all we can virtually. A lot of my time is spent reaching out to new, or working with existing clients and contacts to make sure we support them as best as we can. Another portion of my time is spent with other colleagues internally sharing knowledge and updates on trends identified in the pharmaceutical industry and so on. One of the really nice things about working in Albumedix and working with a product like albumin is that it can be used so broadly. Because it can be used in so many applications, there’s always something new to learn, the market continues to evolve, and opportunities continue to progress. This means there is a portion of time allocated to thinking about market evolution whilst considering the best ways to support our clients. Obviously, there are also loads of day-to-day activities and they include things like dealing with routine enquiries relating to the product. I regularly use subject experts in Albumedix to support our client projects, quality, technical, supply, purchasing, you name it we get all sorts of questions and queries, I know we have a team here ready to help!
Can you expand on some of the more collaborative relationships you have with customers? Could you perhaps give me a case example of how you in your role have worked with a customer to aid in the development of their drug?
Yes of course. I think we’re particularly good at this in Albumedix. All of us who sit in the Business Development function have a technical background or a lot of experience in this industry, so we’re very good at listening to challenges and trying to come up with solutions. Particularly for collaborative type projects, there is a period of time where you’re really trying to understand better what that challenge is, so that we as the albumin experts can make a judgement or offer a solution. I can think of one example, a customer of ours was facing a challenge in the pre-clinical phase of their project. We listened carefully so that we could come up with a bespoke solution for them. This involved pulling in expertise from our technical group and looking back to our 30 years of experience manufacturing albumin. I can think of a number of instances where we have carefully listened to the clients individual challenges and used our internal resource to tailor solutions for them, to help them to get into the clinic faster and save time in their overall project timeline.
What is your favourite thing about your job?
There are a few things I’m going to mention actually, one is that my job involves working with people, so I get to talk to, collaborate, and solve problems with loads of different people, both internally and externally. In Albumedix, there is such a nice group of people that come together to work as a team and it’s a great environment. So that’s one, the other is around working towards a goal. Whilst at Albumedix we might be perceived to be playing a small role in the development of a product, what’s really nice to see is customer projects as they progress through the clinic. Coming from a scientific background and knowing the risk of just getting through the clinic, it’s really exciting to see one of our client projects progress into the next stage. Particularly when you think about the benefit that it might bring to patients, should they make it all the way through the clinic and onto the market. At the moment for example, some of our customers are working in applications which will directly impact COVID patients, where we’ve been able to help support better products with the use of albumin, you can see the direct benefit to patients. So there are two points there, one is enjoyable on a personal level, and the other is enjoyable from the perspective that I get to be part of something that changes peoples lives.
Can you tell me about any training or development opportunities that you’ve had throughout your 14 years with Albumedix?
Yes, there has been quite a few over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend several external training courses that are relevant to the job I was in at the time. Also, because I’ve moved around the company a lot, that’s been a real development opportunity in itself. It has given me the chance to constantly learn and adapt as well as build a really strong internal network within Albumedix. I think my curiosity and analytical nature has put me in a position to be able to consider things from all different angles, which is another way that I have developed every day. I think this comes back again to my earlier reflection that albumin can be used so broadly and is already used across so many different application areas. There are always changing environments within the market which we pick up on, consider and discuss on a day-to-day basis. For me, there have been huge amounts of development opportunities within Albumedix.
In your opinion, what makes Albumedix the partner of choice?
The recombinant albumin products really are first class, they’re highly pure, they’re consistent, they’re safe, we have clinical studies, we have been doing this for 30 years at GMP quality but aside from that, what we really strive for is the ability to enable our customers. Because we have many employees that have been with the business for a long time, not only are we able to deliver the product where it’s needed, we are also able to develop the most appropriate support. We’re conscious of listening to our customers, we’re conscious of delivering to them more than just albumin in a bottle. We really want to enable them to be able to work as efficiently and quickly as possible with our product so that they don’t lose any time at all on their project.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in your line of work?
Generally, I think the advice would be if you want to do it, really go for it. Throw loads of energy into it, be passionate about science. This type of job role is a great opportunity to work with lots of different individuals, from within the organisation and outwardly. You build a really great network. You get to meet people from across the world, you get to go to fantastic conferences, you’re constantly learning and using your analytical skills so for me, that crossover between business and science is really exciting and for anyone who wants to use that kind of education or build that kind of experience, it’s something that offers a very rewarding career. The advice is ‘go for it’.