For the final installation in our “Meet the Team” series, we hear from Olivia, Khurram and Vicky, who lead our operations. This team is the key to ensuring Antheia’s labs are running successfully and efficiently. Read on to learn about this behind-the-scenes team that keeps everything moving smoothly.
How did you end up at Antheia? What does your typical day look like?
Olivia: I started my career in biotech as a scientist, but transitioned to an operations role so that I could wear more hats and focus on a wider range of tasks during my day-to-day. Having now worked in operations for a number of different companies, I still get excited by the opportunity to support scientists throughout all stages of their work.
I’ve been at Antheia for almost three years now, and as the Head of Lab Ops, my goal is to make sure everything in the labs run successfully. This means everything from preparing media and plates, keeping track of inventory to maintain the various instruments used in experiments.
Khurram: Like Olivia, my background is also in R&D, where I learned a great deal about maintaining and supporting both equipment and people. I worked in a few different industries like solar and batteries, but always found biopharma especially interesting, so the opportunity to join Antheia was perfect for applying my experience in a new field.
My days involve me running around the lab. One of my primary responsibilities is preparing the lab - making sure all of the equipment is functioning properly, regular maintenance is happening and materials are stocked and ready to go.
Vicky: My background is different - I studied to be a radiology technologist. I was obsessed with biology as a kid and getting into the healthcare field seemed like a natural extension of that passion. I accepted the job from Antheia because I found myself resonating with Antheia’s vision for the future of pharmaceutical manufacturing. As part of the ops team, my job is to ensure that when the scientists get in the lab, their work is efficient and their experiments go smoothly.
What is one thing you want people to know about your job?
Vicky: Something I’ve realized recently is that
everyone depends on us. If we don’t bring stock or prepare something, the scientists can’t do their jobs effectively and that ultimately can slow the progress. It’s unique to have a position where so many colleagues depend on you.
Khurram: I agree with Vicky – Ops is really the backbone of the company. If I had to sum up our job in one word, it would be “surprise.” There’s always something new being thrown my way, like machines needing repair or vendors dealing with supply issues. Juggling lab work with other tasks means that I always have something interesting to do. I take a lot of pride in making sure our team is set up for success.
Olivia: Our team is always "hiding" in the background to ensure everything runs smoothly. A successful day for me is when we come in, do our job, answer questions and there is no emergency. But even if we have a problem, the ops team is prepared to address it. The fact that we’re ready to jump in and solve problems at a moment’s notice means we’re well-equipped for our jobs.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Olivia: I actually like when issues come up and the ops team can solve it. Not only does that make me feel like a hero, but it’s exciting and rewarding to troubleshoot problems for the team. To give you an example: Our lab boiler wouldn’t turn on a few weekends ago. Our team helped troubleshoot and was fortunately able to resolve the issue early Monday morning, which prevented interruption to our week-long fermentation runs. Imagine how disruptive this could have been!
Khurram: Oh man, I remember the boiler debacle. Obviously, that was a problem that had to be corrected immediately but even if it’s a small problem we’re solving, it’s so important to fix them quickly and effectively for the scientific team to continue their work. I enjoy how hands-on my job is and since the lab has so much equipment, I always have a chance to flex those skills.
Vicky: I also like how hands-on my job is – I definitely get my workout in running around! Something else I really appreciate is how closely I work with the scientists to prepare experiments alongside them. I’m newer to the industry and constantly learning - getting the opportunity to learn more about biology and chemistry is invaluable.
What is the most exciting aspect of Antheia’s innovation?
Khurram: I’ve always wanted to work at a company that is building a better future and I’ve found that at Antheia. Antheia is trying to change the way medicine is made so that we can produce the medicines we need without relying entirely on the plant itself. Being a part of this journey so far has been incredible and I’m excited to be part of the team that will see it through.
Vicky: I’m in the same boat as Khurram – I am impressed that Antheia is not only trying to make essential medicines in a new way, but also improve the quality of the active ingredients. With my background in healthcare, I’ve seen firsthand how drug shortages, as well as subpar or impure medicines, can impact patients, so I feel personally driven by Antheia’s mission.
Olivia: I agree – it’s so important to work for a company that’s work aligns with your values. I’d add that Antheia’s work is also extremely challenging and you see the team is pushing itself and succeeding. I think this comes from our leadership – Kristy, our CSO, is an accomplished scientist and is always innovating unique ways to solve challenges. This type of leadership is vital to the progress being made every day.
*Photo credits: Daniel Yim