In our latest Spotlight feature, we delve into the career of Lauren Wilkinson following her ascent from graduate engineer to Design and Engineering Manager – a role in which she oversees and leads Scitech’s Design and Engineering Team. Join us as we explore Lauren’s path to becoming a leader committed to supporting Scitech’s clients to overcome the complexities and challenges often associated with capital projects.
Looking back, Lauren attributes her career choice in part to the positive influence of her father, a chemical engineer who exposed her to possible career opportunities. “From a very young age I took an interest in engineering,” Lauren explains. “I was just naturally intrigued and found science and maths very easy. So it was quite an obvious career choice.”
She was passionate about the practical application of math and science, stating: “I never really enjoyed the theoretical side, I wanted to do something that made a real difference in practice.” This led her to a graduate role at GSK, where she spent several years, gaining valuable insights into capital projects and hands-on experience working on manufacturing equipment.
When Lauren found herself looking for new challenges and the opportunity to progress her career further, her search led her to Scitech. “I had spent 7 years at GSK and had gained a lot of experience, but I wanted to continue to stretch myself. Scitech offered a fantastic opportunity, as it enabled me to work on different client projects that each had different challenges and requirements. Professionally, it provided the variety and opportunity for growth that I craved.”
The Path to Design Engineering Manager
In her 8 years with Scitech, Lauren has gradually taken on more responsibility, and with it, secured several promotions – most recently into her current role as Design Engineering Manager. Lauren’s trajectory reflects Scitech’s commitment to nurturing internal talent and providing comprehensive on-the-job training.
“Scitech always tries to promote internally first,” Lauren explains. “Right from your development review within the company, managers will be thinking about your career trajectory, supporting you with on-the-job training and exposing you to expertise within the company so that you can gain more experience.
“Over time, you have the opportunity to take on more responsibility, if that is your ambition. You are also able to shadow colleagues and work with people in other departments, which helps to broaden skills within the team.”
Lauren benefitted from Scitech’s mentoring scheme and was supported to grow into her roles. “I have to admit that I didn’t always feel ready to take on more responsibility,” she reveals. “However, my line manager Nicky Hale always pushed me to stretch myself, and I’m glad she did. She seemed to recognise when I was ready to step up before I was, and she was always right.
“My mentor, Dan Newell (Scitech’s Commercial Director), was always there to turn to for advice and support. He was fantastic as he had followed a similar career progression within Scitech. Sometimes it is beneficial to talk to someone outside of your team to get different perspectives.”
Leading Complex Capital Projects
Throughout her time at Scitech, Lauren has played a pivotal role in numerous high-value projects. Notably, she led the process design for a significant project in Ireland. She was tasked with increasing production capacity on the existing site by adding a new production line.
Lauren successfully led the process design of the project to completion, installing a new Grade C Compounding Suite and automated vial filling line and freeze dryers contained in a Grade B cleanroom with associated Grade D / unclassified support spaces. She went on to successfully lead many other projects. As Design Lead she successfully doubled production capacity at another facility, leading the project through multiple phases.
“This was the first large project in which I was the overall Design Lead. It was challenging as the available space was limited and we were unable to shut the site while work was being carried out. As a result, we designed the project so that works were carried out in a series of sub-phases to minimise disruption and downtime to ongoing production in adjacent areas.”
Reflecting on her experiences, she explains that her favourite projects involve starting from a blank piece of paper, illustrating her passion for bringing innovation to life and supporting clients’ visions.
“Our clients are scientific experts at the forefront of drug discovery. It’s fascinating to be part of these projects and to help them scale new pharmaceuticals into something that can be manufactured and ultimately change people’s lives for the better. We get to learn about some innovative science – there’s always something new to learn and challenges to solve.”
Lauren is now focusing on supporting her team and helping the more junior members to progress their careers within Scitech while also delivering the very best service to Scitech’s growing number of clients.
● To find out more about career opportunities at Scitech, visit our careers pages.
● Learn more about life at Scitech by reading our previous Spotlight features: