Spotlight on Lauren Wilkinson, Design Engineering Manager

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:

Scitech Engineering Ltd. establishes Scitech GmbH in Germany

We are delighted to announce the establishment of a new subsidiary business, Scitech GmbH, in Germany. This strategic move is part of Scitech’s growth and succession strategy, aimed at expanding our service offering and capitalising on new opportunities.

An integral part of the Scitech family, Scitech GmbH will provide quality and regulatory consulting, qualification and validation services, design and engineering, and other consultancy support within the traditional pharmaceutical environment, primarily in German-speaking Europe. Additionally, Scitech GmbH will operate as a global centre of excellence in radiopharmaceuticals, supplementing and drawing on the extensive proficiency of subject matter experts from across the Scitech group.

By consolidating and developing Scitech’s global radiopharmaceutical proposition, we will enhance our strong reputation and capabilities in the sector. Scitech GmbH will leverage Scitech’s portfolio, relationships and ongoing projects, particularly in North America and Europe, to create a compelling global radiopharmaceutical proposition.

“Our expansion into Germany with the establishment of Scitech GmbH marks a significant milestone in our growth strategy,” said Dave Grant, Scitech Engineering Ltd. Managing Director. “We are delighted to strengthen our presence in Europe and seize the growing opportunities globally in the radiopharmaceutical sector. This move aligns with our vision to provide exceptional technical, quality and regulatory consulting services while further solidifying our position as a global leader.”

The office of Scitech GmbH will be located in Braunschweig (Brunswick), Lower Saxony, Germany. The subsidiary’s service offering will complement the existing delivery capabilities of Scitech’s UK and Antwerp offices. Antwerp, in particular, will continue to play a vital role in engineering, quality, and regulatory consulting across Europe, while the UK offices will remain integral to Scitech’s global radiopharmaceutical project delivery.

Marlous van der Hooft, has been appointed as Managing Director and General Manager of Scitech GmbH and will spearhead the expansion within Germany and Europe’s German-speaking markets.

With a background in pharmaceutical microbiology, Marlous’s proficiency spans a wide spectrum – from lean manufacturing and process enhancement to quality control, QC method development, validation and compliance, supply chain management, regulatory strategy, and medicines licensing.

Marlous has been responsible for the project management (from design up until full operation) for 13 radiopharmaceutical manufacturing sites, led new product launches, implemented new quality systems, and led manufacturing plants. She works with her customers to deliver the best-fitting solution in order to ensure compliance, safety, and efficiency in their processes. With her skills and knowledge in GxP, ISO13485, validation and operations and quality control, it is her passion to safely and compliantly deliver at the right time against the right cost.

Marlous said: “I am delighted to lead Scitech’s expansion into Germany, a vibrant hub of scientific innovation and collaboration. This new role presents an extraordinary opportunity for Scitech to further solidify its presence on the global stage, contributing to groundbreaking advancements in radiopharmaceutical manufacturing. Together, we will unlock new possibilities, forge impactful partnerships and continue to drive excellence in delivering cutting-edge solutions to benefit patients and the healthcare community.”

Exploring the opportunities that process and chemical engineering can provide for humanity: My week at Scitech

Godalming College student, Jake, blogs about his week of work experience at Scitech.

From a very young age I have always been interested in how humans have helped people with medical illnesses or conditions to improve or extend their lives. In particular I am fascinated by how a seemingly small or insignificant thing such as capsule or tablet can help people live healthier and happier daily lives around the world. To me it encapsulates how human intelligence and endeavour has overcome challenges to make the world a better place. The science behind what happens in medicine is truly amazing! I am keen to study biomedical sciences at university and was extremely fortunate that Scitech agreed to offer
me one week’s work experience in July 2023.

Introduction to Scitech – a leading consultancy, engineering and construction company

I started my week with an office orientation and introduction to Scitech from my mentor Hazel. I was impressed to hear about the broad range of services and expertise Scitech offer to their customers ranging from mechanical engineering, architecture, process engineering to computer aided design and project management. In particular, I found the overview on building services very interesting because I had not considered how intrinsic planning makes sure the building is safe for use and also is needed before the project can even start. I was shown how the pressure gradients were controlled to ensure safety which I found interesting as I had learnt about pressure gradients in biology this year.

The monoclonal antibody manufacturing process

Hazel then introduced a research project they requested I work on during my week, for me to present back to a small group on Friday. It was exciting as not only was I being given a view of the type of work Scitech carry out, I was also being challenged to create something to deliver as though I was an employee of the company! I really appreciated being given this challenge so I could do my own research and think around a topic and be able to contribute back with some of my thoughts and ideas at the end of the week, rather than receiving information and trying to memorise them back as though I was at college. This is what I will need to do in a work environment so I thought it was a great idea and would help me to feel engaged and part of their team. In my case, I was asked to research on the monoclonal antibody (mAb) manufacturing process, which in a nutshell is an approach for creating a type of protein in a lab which can attach to cancer cells to diagnose and treat different cancers and other diseases.

Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility

On Tuesday I was given an overview of architecture from Matt, and health and safety from Brian, which was interesting as I learned that health and safety is essentially everyone’s responsibility in the office and we looked at some fascinating real life examples. I was also really impressed by the range of buildings implemented by Scitech.

Wednesday was when Nadira gave me an overview of building services where she explained how factors such as radioactivity and air circulation had to be considered. During most of the afternoon I carried on my research project and started to formulate my presentation structure as well as speaking to Ali about his take on the expanding world of biology.

On Thursday and Friday I worked fully on my project on my computer at my desk, making me feel as though I was an employee in an office conversing with colleagues. I spent the time creating a PowerPoint slide deck to deliver on Friday, and I tried to make sure I could create visually appealing slides with good content for the team to digest. In addition to this, Hazel gave an overview of many different types of laboratory equipment Scitech use, and then asked me to fill in the specifications of the equipment which was insightful.

On Friday, finally it was time to deliver my presentation to the group. I must say I was quite nervous, but I was able to get the main points across and answer the questions which were asked. I believe I was able to answer everything. When I told my parents about this they were amazed that in 1 week I was able to learn about Scitech and the pharmaceutical engineering industry, gain office experience and deliver a presentation in such a short time!

Highlights of the week

My three key highlights of the week were:

  • The research I did for the manufacture of monoclonal antibodies
  • Learning about process engineering
  • The overview sessions of architecture and building services

I would like to thank Scitech for giving me such a fascinating insight into their operations and culture. In particular Emma Dawas, Joanna Finch, Hazel Hatley and all members of staff who were extremely helpful and friendly, making the week such an unforgettable and incredible experience.

  • Read Adam’s work experience blog about how he gained an understanding of engineering and commercial management as he contemplates what career path to take.

Spotlight on Jens Dekeyser, Project Manager

Jens has worked for Scitech for 8.5 years. He joined as a Project Engineer before being promoted to Project Manager. He forms part of a small, yet highly specialised, team that form Scitech’s European arm of the business.

“Scitech Antwerp differs to the services provided by many consultants. We support the client as a team, and not just as an individual. We take on complex projects and divide the work between our multidisciplinary team according to who has the right expertise for the task in hand. It is the responsibility of the Project Manager to align between this internal and external team.”

Jens has enjoyed this approach, as it has given him the opportunity to take on more roles and gain further expertise than is typical at other organisations. “It has helped me to gain insight and learn from some of the more experienced members of our team – many of whom have 20-30 years experience,” he explains. “ We also work collaboratively with experts from our UK offices via the various digital collaborative working tools we have.”

Jens admits that it was a “big leap” to progress from Project Engineer to Project Manager. It was a large increase in responsibility that could prove daunting, but it was something that he took in his stride.

“It was a steep learning curve but the projects I have worked on have been really interesting. For example, we had a project to set up five new secondary packaging lines at a facility in the Netherlands, I have managed several laboratory renovations and overseen factory acceptance tests for clients”.

Jens’ work with Scitech has seen him travel to many different countries across Europe and also in the US. “Our consultancy work means that we regularly make on-site visits and have face-to-face meetings with clients and suppliers. For certain projects, we have to perform detailed site investigation surveys or perform factory acceptance tests, which is always nice to step away from usual office based activities.”

As a father to two young children, it is important for Jens to have a good work/life balance. “I wouldn’t want to be constantly away on overnight trips now,” he explains. “Luckily, we have a really good culture and everyone is understanding of people’s outside responsibilities – this is a real benefit. We all support each other and work together to get the job done.”

Jens has also benefited from Scitech’s career development programme which ensures that each member of staff has a dedicated training budget and a career progression plan. “There’s always opportunities for training; I try to do at least one official accreditation a year and there are opportunities to do shorter courses and training certificates.”

Jens has recently been certified as an Associate from the Project Management Institute – a training course he says he was encouraged to undertake by his line manager. He is also looking to gain formal qualifications in Business Economy.

“Everyone at Scitech is encouraged to gain new skills and to stay up to date with the latest best practice within their field. It not only benefits us as individuals, it is a huge benefit to our clients and ensures we can deliver the first class work that Scitech is known for.”

Major milestone for Scitech growth as new Manchester Hub opens

We are delighted to announce the opening of our new Manchester office which will form a hub in the North to continue to provide consultancy, design, engineering, construction and validation services to pharmaceutical, life sciences and advanced technology companies.

This exciting development marks a significant growth in Scitech’s success and demonstrates our commitment to providing the highest quality of service and support to our clients in the North of England and Scotland.

The new office will allow us to expand to support the growing number of companies operating within pharmaceutical, life science, high value manufacturing, research, emerging technologies and highly regulated industries.

The opening of the Manchester office is a major milestone in the growth of the company and an indication of our commitment to providing the best possible service to our customers.

Dave Grant, Managing Director, said: “We are excited to be expanding our business base into the North of England and Scotland. We are confident that our new office in Manchester will allow us to extend the high level of service, reliability and expertise to which our clients are accustomed. It’s great to be investing in new talent, growing our local delivery team.”

See our services section to learn more about the services we offer.

Scitech donates computer equipment to Sri Lankan schools

Ray Charlton, a founding member of the Scitech team, recently visited Sri Lanka to volunteer for the charity Child Action Lanka, taking several laptops, headphones and mobile phones donated by Scitech.

Ray, who retired from Scitech in 2020, pledged to volunteer with the charity after hearing how many children across the country are deprived of education and suffer from poverty.

Ray explains: “The poverty experienced in Sri Lanka is a result of many factors; including the recent war and the financial crises which has been exasperated by lack of tourists (due to terrorist bombing in 2019 and Covid). Sri Lanka is a very class-based society and the lowest/ poorest suffer the most. There is no welfare safety net.”

Child Action Lanka (CAL) is focused on ensuring that vulnerable children everywhere have a chance of a better future. They try to ensure their basic nutritional and health needs are met, and that their primary and higher educational requirements are supported. CAL provides support to mothers and families who have suffered domestic violence and abuse, believes in the empowerment of girls and women, and funds the work of its staff supported by volunteers.

Children use the computer equipment donated by Scitech

“All children over 5 years of age attend state schools but teaching stops at 1pm,” explains Ray. “Wealthy families often pay for addition tuition, which poor families are unable to access. CAL supports these poor families by providing a lunch and additional lessons in mother tongue (Sinhalese or Tamil), English, Maths and basic computing.”

Ray, along with five other volunteers, travelled to the capital city Columbo to meet with charity staff and hand over the donated equipment. During his trip, Ray travelled to several of the charity’s education centres across the country to teach computer skills to children.

Ray with some of the children he supported while volunteering

Ray said: “When Scitech heard I was going to work with CAL in Sri Lanka they offered me several laptops, headphones and mobile phones, which have been put into immediate use. The laptops were needed to equip their pupils with IT skills and maximise their chances of employment when they leave at 18 years old.

“Together with a friend, we taught the children how to use MS PowerPoint to create a one-page CV and some children gave a presentation to the class, something they had never done before. We then took this format to the other centres we visited. The children we worked with were so keen and enthusiastic to learn; it was a delight. The experience of the trip has been wonderful; in seeing what can be done with the vision and energy to make a change and a positive difference to the lives of children”

Simon Howard, Business Infrastructure Director, said: “We were delighted to be able to support Ray and the fantastic work that Child Action Lanka is doing to improve the lives of disadvantaged children. We always look for opportunities to recycle any of our computer equipment when it needs to be upgraded and this was certainly a good opportunity to do so while also getting insight into the difference that such a small gesture on our part could make.”

To support Ray visit his Just Giving page – Ray Charlton is fundraising for The Epiphany Trust (justgiving.com)

Read more about Ray’s trip.

Annual charity donation to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices takes Scitech’s total to £74,000

In January, we visited Shooting Star Chase Children’s Hospices to make our annual charity donation, this year with a cheque for £3,600. This year’s donation, together with our Christmas raffle cheque takes our cumulative total raised to an impressive £74,000!

We first chose to raise money for the local children’s hospice when a colleague saw the invaluable support it provided to a friend’s child. Each year since, we have been donating a percentage of our profits and taking part in charity events. This year’s fundraising efforts included taking part in the hospice’s annual Sunrise Walk in Guildford, annual Christmas raffle, holding a Christmas Jumper Day, hosting a charity donation tower, and saw staff sell handmade items including freshly pressed apple juice and handmade shopping bags.

For 2023, we already have a team of “Scitech Snowdonia Sunnies” to take on the Snowdonia Sunrise Walk challenge in March, plus a few of us will be booking onto the North Downs Ultra Challenge 50km walk in July. Our efforts are getting more adventurous!

Lewis White, Mechanical Engineering Team Leader and company charity Trustee, said: “We are very proud to be able to continue to support the work of Shooting Star Children’s Hospice. The care and support they provide to families in their greatest time of need is invaluable, and we are delighted to be able to help them in any way we can. We look forward to continuing our support partnership with to Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.”

Shooting Star Children’s Hospice is a leading children’s hospice charity that provides care and support to babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families. It has been providing vital respite, palliative and end-of-life care for families across west London and Surrey since 1994-5.

Find out more about Shooting Star Children’s Hospice, or to make a donation.