Sharon O'Grady

Quality Control Microbiologist, Genzyme

Degree subject BSc Pharmaceutical Science
Job title Quality Control Microbiologist
Employer Genzyme

During my first year at college, I took a broad science course and became really interested in pharmaceuticals. I like the fact that there is always something new to learn, as the industry is constantly developing new technologies and products.

In my placement year I spent six months working in quality control at Genzyme— a bio-pharmaceutical company which manufactures and packages freeze-dried products for orphan diseases. Quality control involves managing and controlling the environment to make sure products don’t become contaminated during manufacture. It is a really important job as contamination can cause serious, adverse effects in patients. I got great hands-on experience and was taught various sampling and testing methods. The staff were also really helpful.

After my placement at Genzyme, they emailed me to let me know there was a job available, which I got. A year later, I am now on the 24/7 shift team. This involves working two twelve-hour days, two twelve-hour nights and then having four days rest. It is important that staff are there 24/7 to support the manufacturing process. I actually enjoy shift work, as I like having four days rest in a row.

Working in quality control is enjoyable: I get to interact with many departments and experience all parts of a bio-pharmaceutical company. There is also a lot of variety; I work on open investigations where I explore why our products can become contaminated.

In the next few years, I hope to do a Masters in Analytical Science with Quality Management. Genzyme will provide substantial funding so that I can study part-time in the evenings. They are really encouraging and I know it’ll help me to become better at what I do.