1. What is your position at Bioton?
I work as a Director of Business Operations.
2. What do you do at Bioton?
My job involves working directly with the Board and other leaders on initiatives aimed at improving our infrastructure and processes. Such initiatives involve all levels of the company and can be directed at things like building long-term strategies or executive structures, developing optimal measures of our progress, as well as automating processes or increasing functionality. Once we identify a process, team or initiative that we feel is important to improving the organisation’s effectiveness, I take on the role of an internal consultant to ask questions and try to learn as much as I can about it. We then brainstorm to find ways to change the current pattern and multiply the results achieved. At the start of each such project, I commence work and become personally involved in creating a solid foundation for subsequent actions. Afterwards, I ensure that things are moving at a proper pace and are under the care of the right leader who can lead them in the right direction.
My key role is also to build commitment and accountability within our teams and facilitate communication between management and employees, as well as between people working in different departments who rarely meet each other, but whose coordination is imperative for sustainability. It is truly astounding how the same message can be interpreted in so many different ways by people working in other areas of the organisation’s structure. In corporate reality, such a distortion of messages may lead to conflicts and diverging actions, reducing work efficiency and giving rise to frustration.
3. What was your path to your current position?
I joined Bioton in late 2018 as a Junior Specialist at the Regulatory Department. This was not my first professional experience as I had previously worked as a researcher during my PhD at UPMC in Paris; additionally, I worked as an embryologist at an infertility clinic and ran my own company for nearly 4 years. Nonetheless, Bioton is the first pharmaceutical company that I have ever joined, so my career began at the very bottom of its structure. My initial responsibilities involved preparing for the entry of our insulin products into South American markets, as well as overseeing an ongoing clinical trial that was taking place there. After a year, I was promoted to Senior Specialist and shortly thereafter to Manager, working with a team of Regulatory Affairs and CMC experts. 2020 really turned things upside-down for me, not only because of the raging pandemic but also due to the challenges of leading a team remotely without any experience in this way of working. Despite the complications, we managed to successfully overcome 2020’s challenges, meeting strategic goals, catching up on our work, and even making improvements and increasing efficiency along the way. With such challenges and high-paced work, no factor is more important than a close-knit team focused on excellence. When you find yourself working with people that you like and trust because they are great at what they do, and with whom you are glad to work together every day to find solutions – you are on the right track.
4. What aspect of your work are you most proud of?
I am particularly proud of two things. The first is that my work contributes to saving lives. Type I diabetes is a severe disease that used to be fatal in just 2-3 years after diagnosis, usually during childhood, up until a century ago. Type II diabetes is already an epidemic and estimations indicate that it will affect 700 million people worldwide by 2045. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first commercial launch of a human insulin product manufactured by Bioton using biotechnology tools. We were the fourth company in the world to do this. At the time, this was a major success for Polish science and the then-nascent biotechnology. In later years the company went through storms of varying intensity, which somewhat weakened its walls. Nonetheless, its foundations remain strong and being part of a team that contributes new chapters to the history of Polish biotechnology does feel good.
The second thing I am very proud of is the team I work with. New issues arise every day, just like in any company, and each one of them must be resolved, one by one. You cannot do it all by yourself; no one would be able to handle that. This is why team-building efforts, forming relationships with people and constantly monitoring the quality of relationships between the team and other parties, as well as looking for any signs of toxicity that could undermine the workplace atmosphere, is so vital in this case. I am fortunate enough to work with really great people, who are honest, open-minded and smart. If you work around highly intelligent people, it is worth setting aside some time to talk to them since they always have something valuable to say and should be provided with the space to do so. This brings a mutual benefit because, on the one hand, it allows you to check in on their well-being and see if they are satisfied and able to develop – and act if that is not the case. On the other, you can learn a lot from such people, e.g. about products, processes, areas that need improvement and countless ideas, and also get inspired to act upon them.
5. What inspires you to work?
At the company, I am inspired by the people; it is still they that teach me the most and I continue to analyse their feedback to streamline our processes and improve myself through my professional development. This concerns all people from every level of the organisation, from energetic junior employees with a fresh perspective on things to fast-thinking executives who share their invaluable experience with others.
Outside the company, I seek inspiration in such things as biographies of exceptional individuals, as well as books and articles written by people whose work and commitment made their companies flourish and their ideas, concepts and technologies commonplace. While on vacation, I never read crime stories and increasingly often forgo reading fiction altogether. I typically choose books that will help me learn something practical, such as how to see the world through numbers (“How to make the world add up” by Tim Harford), or how Pixar fuels its teams’ creativity (“Creativity Inc” by Ed Catmull). I suppose that I am at a stage in life where I always seek opportunities to learn something new that will broaden my perspective, allow me to make better decisions and reduce my hesitation time.
I am very passionate about my career and devote a lot of energy to it, not because someone or something is forcing me to do so, but because I firmly believe that I address a legitimate problem, which brings me satisfaction. Fortunately, my family occasionally pulls me out of the world of work and brings me down to earth to play board games or read about dinosaurs. This helps me regain balance and cope with stress much better.
6. What advice would you give to people who are just starting their career path?
Be ambitious and never be afraid to ask questions to understand things better. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Do not feel discouraged when you fail – conversely – fail so many times that you become immune to the very fear of failure over time. Stay away from malcontents and critics who suck out your energy and waste your limited time. Avoid working for people that you do not admire and who are not proper role models for you. Surround yourself with people who you find inspiring and who help you grow. Always be courteous and treat people with respect.