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Interview - Career development within a scientific outsourcing business

Career development within the scientific sector can be fast paced, varied, and extremely rewarding if you work for the right business. We have taken a closer look at career development within our own in-house, scientific outsourcing solutions business, Synergy. 

Synergy employs scientists, manufacturing specialists and clinical professionals, then places teams of specialists into a variety of pharmaceutical and biotech companies. This gives staff the benefits of working for a variety of clients and areas within their business, whilst enjoying the stability of being employed by one business, Synergy. 

We spoke to two of Synergy’s onsite team leaders, Sorin and Harry — based at GSK Ware and Reckitts Hull, respectively — to ask them about their journey with Synergy so far, their experience of career development, and how the model differs from other businesses they’ve work for. 
Why did you join Synergy?

Sorin


“It’s been hard for me to find a role that provides both stability and the opportunity for change. This role offers both. For someone like me who craves the idea of working with new accounts, clients and projects, Synergy meets all those needs. You don’t feel purely like a mercenary, as contractors can often feel. You feel more connected to the outcome.”

Harry

“I’ve been working for Synergy since July 2018. I knew a few of the people in the Synergy team at the time. I was looking for something more analytical-based for my skill set (I quite like the actual testing, GMP, the process validation and things like that), so I made the move into more analytical testing.”

What opportunities have you had for training and upskilling?

Sorin

“There’s plenty of opportunity. I asked to do a mental health first aider course because it’s something I’m actually passionate about and can apply it in the workplace. That was arranged plus multiple other training courses — altogether, quite a bit of resource has been put into it.”

“I requested something that was personal to me and got something great back.”

“On a monthly basis, there’s a different training module, which is really exciting.”

Harry

“There were a lot more training opportunities — a few different things to learn that I hadn’t done before, different labs.”

“There are quite a few opportunities outside of business requirements. They paid for me to do a project management and team leadership course, which was really nice. There are a few other development courses for my team further down the line. It’s a nice way of doing things because you get to see the different ways people work.”

How has working for a scientific outsourced company benefited your career? 

Sorin

“That’s the difference between the Synergy model and traditional contracting models. You can attach yourself to each account and client. The model offers you the freedom to test a few things out without the usual repercussions. You still get long-term value because you might get to experience new skills or a new industry. You can have the peace of mind that no one is going to tell you you’re going to be out of here within a week.” 

“The structure of the contract offers security and the benefits of the company investing into your education within the workplace, which is rare to find in the contracting world. That’s the selling point. It’s a good environment to be in that builds brand loyalty.”

Harry

“One of the first things I noticed when I started was how different it was to previous roles I’d been in. There was a lot more support and help for me and others; more of a team effort. Usually, it was a “this is your job and you deal with it” mindset. The support from colleagues made life a lot easier.”

“The model is a nice way of specialising. You still have that range of analytical regulations and documents for the actual product, and you advise the client, learn a bit about that, learn a bit about cosmetics.”

“In old roles, medical devices was always my specialisation, so when someone used to talk to me about a monograph it would go over my head. Now, I have a basic understanding of most requirements for any classification or product now.”

What sort of career development have you experienced?

Sorin

“You see a problem and how you can help and how things need to change. Within a year of being with Synergy I’ve managed to get promoted officially once and also work towards different projects. I’m not driven by money and just trying to keep my life interesting. It is nice to be attached to an entity that requires the flexibility my brain requires, but also to have consistency in terms of the people I work with. In the last ten years I’ve lived in five different countries.”

“I became team leader while I was already onsite as a manufacturing technologist, so I experienced no team leader and being the team leader. Without wanting to blow my own trumpet, having this fixed point of contact was really positive for the team. It gives them someone who has a dedicated interest in their progression and training. You have a duty of care for people in your team, which you sometimes don’t get in other STEM contracting models.”

Harry

“Synergy is quite good at picking up people and developing people straight from uni. I think it’s an excellent starting place for that.”

“As we’ve progressed, I’ve taken on team management, dealing with clients more directly and providing advice and training to my team members. One colleague has worked with me for years — his knowledge helps guide the team if I’m not around.”

“The new people are still getting used to it and learning the processes, but others are pretty much more self-sufficient now.”

“Pre-COVID, quite a few people used to move around between different Synergy sites so that option is there for people who like a change of environment.”

“A lot of the people who started here have come straight out of university and it’s a great first glance into GMP because you’re teaching them the correct processes and how to do things properly. We’re always reviewing them, showing them how to do it, and letting them learn for themselves. I’ve seen a lot of other sites that have essentially just dropped people into the lab and gone, “crack on”. In this environment, mistakes are more likely.”

“At Reckitts, when someone comes in, with Synergy they know what they need to learn, they know what their role is going to detail, and then the training is really extensive and good at showing people how they do it. Watching them in the lab, guiding them, stepping back again, and enabling a healthy progression.”

“Personal development is unique to each individual” says Head of UK Operations

Our Synergy Science Account Manager – UK Operations, Carol Jennings, commented on the career development at Synergy saying, “We are passionate about helping our teams learn and develop new skills. Not only is this an important aspect of any job role, as it allows for personal growth and personal satisfaction, but skills learnt or enhanced are a great advantage in helping people on their career journeys.” 

“Personal development is unique to each individual and whether it be apprenticeships, technical training, coaching in specific areas or other training opportunities, we pride ourselves on being able to bespoke a development plan to each member of the team. We also look at career progression and cross training as part of people’s career ambitions. Investing time in each individual really allows them to shine, setting us apart from the crowd.”

As well as the bespoke career development for individuals the SRG group, including Synergy, is invested in supporting its employees through wider company policy too, demonstrated through their Investors in People Silver accreditation. 

Time to move your career forward? 

If you are ready to develop your scientific career, working for Synergy could be an exciting way of doing it, giving you in-valuable experience and variety. 

Click here to view the available Synergy job vacancies with Cignpost Diagnostics.  

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