Trainee in pharmaceutical production and quality assurance
Maria Kozyrev is 28 years old and studied Biomedical Engineering at TU Wien, the technical university in Vienna, Austria. Currently she is completing the International Future Leadership Program, majoring in engineering . At the moment, she is working as a production expert on a major pharma project in Berlin and shares her experiences and outlook on the Career Blog.
Why did you decide to join the trainee program instead of applying for a direct entry job?
A broad lineup at the start of my career is important to me, so I wanted to take the time to get to know the company well.
What kind of tasks do you have to undertake as a trainee? What do you enjoy about it and what are the challenges?
It’s hard to identify typical tasks, as they can differ from one trainee to the next. When I joined the program, my supervisor and I discussed the objectives for my traineeship and then – based on that and my previous experience – worked out what I would be doing over the next 24 months. It was reliability engineering that appealed to me most. Working with a team of plant engineers, we analyzed complex technical systems and identified technical opportunities to improve their availability.
As a Russian, I found it challenging to use German as my working language – even though English is the official company language – and, having finished my training, I am proud that I can make myself understood when talking with my German-speaking colleagues.
We all know there is no such thing as a “typical working day”, so could you describe what you would consider to be an “exciting working day”?
I’m currently working on a major pharma project. This is what my day usually looks like: 7.00 – 8.00 a.m. Go to the office, usually getting a chamomile tea on the way 8.00 – 9.00 a.m. Arrive at the office and reply to the previous day’s emails 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 noon Prepare for and attend the “GMP Risk Evaluation Meeting”. Quality risk management is an important part of any pharma project. 12.00 noon – 1.00 p.m. Lunch break with colleagues. We often have “Lunch & Learn” breaks when various scientific presentations are held. They’re great because you can discuss issues and have a little something to eat at the same time. 1.00 – 2.00 p.m. Regular “Process and Equipment” team meeting. We talk about the work we’ve done over previous weeks and establish what needs to be done next. 2.00 – 5.00 p.m. I work on my own tasks. New issues crop up every week and there’s always something new to learn, whether it’s about production technology, digitalization, product quality and plants, facility engineering or even project implementation methods.
Do you travel and do you have any contact with sites in other countries?
The Trainee Program has a very international character and working together across a wide range of cultures and languages is a key element. In particular, I found working with Finnish and American colleagues in Finland really interesting.
How was it all at the start? Did you find your feet in this huge organization fairly quickly?
As a trainee, you move from assignment to assignment in the company and it’s important to build up trust in every team. For example, during the first couple of weeks after I moved sites, my supervisor would help both parties – my new colleagues and me. He has always helped me stay open and authentic in new situations and discuss expectations early on.
How does it work with staff benefits?
There haven’t so far been any restrictions in terms of training courses, workshops, travel or company cars. I got everything I needed for every assignment, that is, every posting or department. For instance, during my time as a plant engineer in Berlin, I took courses in “GMP training” and “Operational Excellence”. When it comes to getting from A to B, I’ve always used a bicycle. Company bicycles are available free at many sites and there are special leasing arrangements for cars, among other things.
How would you assess the opportunities for further training at Bayer?
I would say the promotion prospects at Bayer are good, as I can easily take on more responsibility here. I think it’s important we can put innovation into practice, and Bayer offers outstanding opportunities to do just that.
How would you like things to work out for you after the Trainee Program?
I would like to further my development in the HealthCare segment so I can get the right pharma innovations to patients in the shortest possible time.