Why did you join Delta PM?
I was a laboratory manager at a genetic testing company when Delta approached me. I had many hats to wear as a lab manager, but project management and lab space planning were my absolute favorite parts of the job; when Delta offered the opportunity to take those facets and turn it into a full-time career, I had to take the leap. I couldn’t be happier with that decision.
Why did you choose to pursue consulting?
When I first graduated college, I became a Research Associate doing prenatal clinical testing. Though it was meaningful work, I knew within a year that I wasn’t going to be happy pursuing a career with that much repetition. I needed the curveballs, sliders, and change-ups that I was lucky enough to find in the field of project management. Being a consultant gives me the freedom and flexibility to pursue my own path, but with the support of a great operation like Delta behind me.
What does your role as a consultant at Delta entail?
I am currently a Project Manager for our client, Gilead Sciences, specializing in lab build-outs and redesigns. I normally manage about a dozen projects at a time, which vary from small lab modification projects to larger scale building renovations. We’re involved every step of the way, from interacting with the users regarding their requests, to funding, planning, and all the way through execution. It’s a sometimes-hectic, but always-fulfilling career.
How has your experience with Delta PM been fulfilling or different?
Moving from a small start-up to a consulting firm and being assigned to a large client was a bit of a culture shock. The company dynamics were all new, and my little network of colleagues and vendors grew exponentially overnight. I’m very thankful for the amazing opportunity Delta PM has given me to grow and learn from some of the brightest people around.
This year's ISPE Boston Area Chapter Product Show was set to be one of the biggest shows yet, with over 20 educational sessions, 375 exhibitors, and 3300 attendees. Our new East Coast Regional Director, Aaron Hubbell, East Coast Regional Manager, Eric Nelsen, and first Validation Engineer out East, Kero Habib, attended together on behalf of Delta, and met with many new and old faces.
There were many creative ideas using state-of-the-art technologies, and no shortage of booths showcasing the advancement of disposable technology. The educational sessions also provided further insights into where the industry is headed. Some of the most popular educational sessions portrayed how the industry is on the cusp of developing a sustainable continuous manufacturing model for biologics and vaccines, as well as the leveraging of analytics in the digitization of supply chain to optimize efficiency. The after-party on the field and lounge after the event was also a great time of deeper explorations in conversation and new connections built.
We’d like to thank ISPE for putting together such a wonderful event, full of learning and meeting other talented industry professionals. We look forward to future events and having a booth of our own in the coming years!
Why did you choose to pursue consulting?
Consulting gave me the opportunity to get out of my hometown and travel the country with more flexibility than any other profession I could find.
Why did you choose to join Delta PM?
I had lived in Syracuse my entire life and felt that if I didn't leave my hometown soon, I would never leave and would always wonder what else is out there. Delta has given me the unique opportunity to travel across the country and experience different places for an extended period of time to see what I liked and disliked about each location.
How has your experience with Delta been fulfilling or different?
Delta has consistently put me in positions I've never been in before, in addition to providing the support necessary for me to complete the tasks at hand. Over the last year, I've lived in and explored three different cities — Gainesville Florida, San Francisco, and Houston — while working on three very distinct projects to grow and diversify my skills. Each project has provided new opportunities to learn new things and grow, both professionally and personally.
What does your role entail?
My role and day-to-day responsibilities depend on the project I’m on. I've been responsible for setting up an analytical instrument validation program in Gainesville, worked as part of a large team writing final reports for the qualification of temperature chambers in Berkeley, and even performed the entire qualification process on a wide range of equipment in Houston.
What’s your favorite company memory?
Delta PM’s Holiday Party is probably my favorite memory so far. I thought it was very cool that they brought everyone from all around the country together for a night, regardless of where their projects were. I met a bunch of great people that I hadn't had the opportunity to work with yet, and everyone was very excited to be there. It was great to see the community that Delta has built, and it felt like everyone was friends, not just coworkers.
Any other Consulting tips or other career advice?
Take an extra 5 minutes to check your work one more time, and don't be afraid to speak up!
“Delta Project Management has provided me with the invaluable opportunity to work with and learn from some of the best and brightest in the industry.
Scott and Feras' connections in the Bay Area’s biopharmaceutical community run deep, as they have been proving Delta's commitment to service for many years now. When I mention to any given peer that I work for Delta PM, they invariably know Scott and Feras, and always have positive things to say about them.
What initially drew me to Delta was their diverse group of vibrant and energetic employees, who constantly look for professional development. After a few years of working with them, I’ve seen the group continue to grow with that same focus. Each time we get together for a company event, I’m always reminded of the talent that Delta has drawn, and I hope to continue being a part of it for years to come!”
This year’s ISPE Annual Meeting & Expo will be hosted at the Philadelphia Convention Center. The Exhibition will be held Sunday 11/4 from 5-7pm, Monday 11/5 from 10am-4pm, and Tuesday 11/6 from 10am-4pm. Our Delta PM team will be hosting a booth and is looking forward to meeting you!
Location: AC Hotel South San Francisco/Oyster Point Waterfront
1333 Veterans Blvd., South San Francisco, CA 94080
5:00 - 6:00 pm Registration and Networking
6:00 - 6:30 pm Dinner
6:30 - 8:00 pm Presentation Program Abstract:
In 2017 a cross-functional team of experts led by BioMarin’s Capital Project Management team, CRB, and Novo Construction completed a year-long mission to realize an idea into a GMP released and running Phase 3 gene therapy manufacturing plant. Come meet the leadership team from BioMarin, CRB, and Novo in a presentation and panel discussion as they look back on their journey together one year later.
Carl Albertson — Project Director, BioMarin
Logan Kelley — Sr. Project Manager, Design and Construction, BioMarin
Lisa Rappl — Sr. Manager, Engineering, BioMarin
Keith Life — Director of Gene Therapy Manufacturing Operations, Operational Readiness, BioMarin
Kurt Yanagimachi — Principal Scientist, Tech Transfer Lead, BioMarin
Evelyn Burbano — C&Q Lead, ADVENT Engineering
Kory Kaplan — Project Manager, CRB
John Voight – Project Director, Novo Construction
Logan Kelley — Senior Project Manager, BioMarin
Feras Al-Zubaidy — Executive Chairman, Delta Project Management
Anthony Bonifacio — Vice President, Project Management Advisors, Inc.
Michael Cooper — Sr. Manager Regulatory Affairs, BioMarin
Sue Cost — Director Business Development, ProPharma Group
Ralf Elsaesser — Group Director, Dome Construction
LeRoy Ginn — Vice President, ACCO Engineered Systems
Wei Huang — Principal, Newa Technology, Inc.
Jim Redenbarger — Principal Engineering Project Manager, BioMarin
Ted Reyes — Director, Project Management, Intarcia Therapeutics
Brian Vaughn — Director, Business Development, CRB
Last Thursday, the Delta Team attended the Oktoberfest-themed ISPE San Diego Chapter Vendor Night. The evening started with two great speakers: Dr. Harry Gruber, Founder & President of Tocagen, and Dr. John Hood, Founder & CEO of Impact Biomedicines. They both spoke about the challenges and development of each company’s cancer therapies. Since finding the cure for cancer has been a popular topic in the biotechnology world, these two speakers captivated the audience with the technology and experience they shared.
After the speakers, it was time for the vendor exhibition. This is the largest ISPE SD event and is also the only Vendor Night held outdoors. This year it was hosted in the Illumina i3 Courtyard, where the sidewalk and lawn were lined with over 70 vendors, overlooking the Miramar area. The Delta Team (Feras Al-Zubaidy, Scott Kobayashi, Colin Larsen, and Stacy Pham) spent the night connecting with new and old contacts around the courtyard and at our booth!
The night ended with a Raffle Drawing, for which Delta PM sponsored a set of amazing Crate & Barrel Beer mugs! Thanks to Stacy Sutton, Ashok Gopinath, John Ricci, Bethany Franks, Ray Jan, Vanessa Small, and Murtaza Kapadia for stopping by our booth; Johnny Gonzales, Fred Carmody, Nick Oberts, John Cott, and Jaymie Smith for introducing yourselves and playing our version of Roulette; and last but not least, ISPE for a great evening and San Diego for the perfect weather!
“I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that my PDA membership lapsed well over 10 years ago. That wrong was righted when I rejoined the PDA late this summer and immediately plugged into the very active New England chapter. My first event back with PDA was this past Wednesday at the Bristol-Myers Squibb site in Devens, MA. They hosted a set of presentations from BMS experts on their latest facility design principles, process design, and closed systems thinking that drove their most recent facility.
Sanchayita Ghose, BMS’s Director of Process Development, spoke about key process redesigns that allow near-continuous processing of monoclonal antibodies. Rethinking the fed-batch vs. perfusion question not as an either/or but rather either/and allowed BMS to merge perfusion bioreactor stages with fed-batch stages to maximize protein productivity and set up downstream purification for continuous processing success. Downstream purification redesign involved multicolumn capture chromatography, tandem column linking to eliminate pooling steps, and auto-titration for low-pH viral inactivation. In aggregate, these steps allowed BMS to significantly increase throughput and productivity in a smaller footprint plant. This was an impressive example of selectively applying principles of continuous processing to drive bio-manufacturing success.
The second half of the program was presented by Richard Martel and Paresh Kurkure – both Manufacturing Support Engineers – who spoke about creating truly closed operations within single-use platforms. By refusing to accept conventional wisdom on the feasibility of closing certain process steps, Paresh and Richard were able to design fully-closed processes that seemed to be widely considered non-closable. These closed operations allowed the facility design team to maximize the use of controlled-not-classified space within the facility, thus making significant operational and overhead savings. Classified space within the facility is limited to operations that are not fully-closed and would have a much smaller classified space footprint than if the closures had not been made.
Both presentations were fascinating examples of thinking unconstrained by conventional wisdom or status quo, ultimately resulting in very real quality and productivity improvements that allowed BMS to continue bringing therapies to patients. I’m looking forward to further thought-provoking presentations from the PDA New England Chapter in the future.”
- Aaron Hubbell, East Coast Regional Director at Delta PM
1. Why did you choose to join Delta PM?
Having been in Recruiting for over 6 years, I’ve had the privilege of working at some great companies with some wonderful people. When Delta reached out to me about this new career opportunity, I immediately felt a connection to the team and to what Delta was doing as a company, and I knew that I had to be a part of it all. I was drawn to the fact that everyone was so proud of being a “Deltoid” (a pride that I now own as well), and that everybody on the team worked to achieve the goals of the company together, as well as celebrating individual wins. I have to say that this has been the best career choice I’ve ever made!
2. How has your experience been fulfilling or different?
Recruiting is fulfilling in so many different ways. Bringing new opportunities to talented individuals and providing great talent to important clients makes me feel wonderful about what I do, however; recruiting at Delta has brought another level of fulfillment to my job. Not only do I talk daily to people about a company that I respect, appreciate, and value so highly, but I also am able share with them how they can contribute to our goals and be a part of such an amazing team — my day-to-day no longer feels like work to me. It's like they say, “Find a job that you love, and never work another day in your life.”
3. What does your role entail?
As a Recruiter, I consider myself to be a kind of matchmaker for the career world. I have the distinct privilege of finding talented industry professionals and developing a strong relationship and bond with them, as they are interviewed and taken through the entire onboarding process with Delta. The best part is getting to meet these individuals at company get-togethers and hearing about how happy they are in their new roles and how much they love being a Deltoid.
4. How would you describe your team?
We may be small, but we are fierce! Our Ops team is a smaller team (about 15 of us), but this allows us to have a lot more interaction, collaboration, and connection to each other. This team is one that will be there for all of the wins and the struggles to celebrate you, help you every step of the way, and encourage and motivate you to meet your own goals too. I couldn’t ask for a better group to spend my days with!
5. What is your favorite company memory?
I haven’t quite hit my one year mark yet, but my time with Delta has already been filled with some awesome memories. I’d have to say that my favorite memory thus far was the SF ISPE Vendor Night. I got to see our competitors in action (though they’ve got nothing on Delta, in my opinion), meet most of our consultants that I had heard so much about, and also spend some quality time with the entire team afterwards, bowling and having a blast together. Each person’s title and role didn’t matter; we were all just one big family that genuinely enjoyed spending time together — a true representation of the culture of Delta and just a part of what makes this company the best place I’ve ever worked!
When our Delta recruiting team speaks to new candidates, they are often asked, “What is the difference between a Validation Consultant and a Validation Engineer/Specialist at my current biopharma company?” This is an important question to ponder because consulting is not for everyone. The importance of having the self awareness to know whether or not consulting work is the right fit for you cannot be overlooked.
There are three key differentiators to consider:
1. Do I Have the Technical Skills?
Never forget that as a consultant you (and your firm) are being paid to bring skills and expertise that the client organization does not possess. This position requires a strong technical background to “sell” to the prospective client and add value to their project. Relevant skills include commissioning and qualification experience, protocol development and timely execution, temperature mapping studies, cleaning validation, data integrity risk assessments, technical writing, validation planning, and so on. Your purpose is to provide expertise and knowledge, and the client doesn’t allocate resources to providing training on the basic fundamentals. You must identify and refine your core capabilities and bring those to your clients’ projects.
Understand that your success as a consultant requires the ability to roll up your sleeves and help the client however you can – and in that, you can find ample opportunity to learn new skills and round out your technical expertise. You may be at a client site as a technical writer developing validation protocols, but the client is shorthanded one day and needs help performing executions associated with a protocol you authored. This would present you with an excellent opportunity to gain some hands-on experience and also show the client you can play multiple roles within their project team.
Note: A willingness to help out in other areas can lead to expanded skills and success; but this needs to be approached carefully. Don’t take on additional tasks until you’ve completed all of your assignments in your current scope of work. Your client should approve this support in advance. It may be nice that you helped with an unassigned task, but you’ll have a very unhappy sponsor if that unassigned task delayed the critical tasks within your scope of work.
Ultimately the more diverse your skill set and expertise, the more likely you will be to land higher visibility projects. For more information, read Adrienn Prezenszki’s excellent article on technical skill sets for Validation work.
2. Do I Have the Soft Skills?
Key soft skills that will allow you to thrive as a consultant include learning agility and intellectual curiosity (are you constantly learning new skills and asking questions?), personal integrity (adhere to the cGMPs so that you can assess if a request or activity represents a possible violation), a value-centered mindset (the client is paying a lot of money for your time, so every billable hour should clearly bring value to the client), flexibility (different doesn’t necessarily mean wrong so be open to new approaches where they make sense), and PMA – positive mental attitude.
Establishing trust with the client is one of the most important factors to be considered, as it can be very difficult to re-establish a good report with your coworkers if that relationship is compromised. It is also important to note that your behavior, attitude, and willingness to take on additional responsibilities above and beyond your assigned day-to-day tasks is often considered to be a direct reflection of the company you represent.
3. What’s My Preferred Lifestyle?
One person’s stability and predictability is another person’s stifling boredom. In-house employment with the client can often lead to greater certainty, but the flip side of this may mean being siloed in a singular function with limited opportunities for growth and fewer project-related roles to diversify your skills. There’s no right or wrong choice, but you must understand and recognize what is important to you, your career, and the lifestyle you choose to pursue.
Consulting can be exciting and rewarding, as you can travel to different parts of the world and learn an incredible amount in a short period of time. You mustn't overlook the realities of long periods away from home and perpetually feeling like a “visitor” at your client’s work site, however; consulting with the right employer can lead to fast career advancement and put you in greater control of your professional development.
At Delta Project Management, we pride ourselves on the quality of our service to our clients, the professional excellence of our staff, and our reputation for consistently delivering project success. We empower our consultants with challenging projects, and allow them to identify specific skills they would like to strengthen and develop and also travel to new geographies they would like to experience. As you consider a career in consulting, keep in mind that your thoughts will change depending on where you are in your professional and personal life.
If Validation Consulting is still attractive to you after giving some serious thought to the points listed above, feel free to apply to our current openings or reach out directly to us. We are always looking for talented and driven people with the right mix of expertise and personality, as we're expanding our diverse portfolio of clients where you can grow your career.