What does a project manager do and what is needed to be successful in such a position? The job title has a broad meaning and job descriptions for project managers vary greatly. Even within the same field of industry or within the same specialized segment, the work tasks of project managers may differ. Here we describe what it is like to be a project manager at Biovian, which specializes in contract development and manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.
A project manager at Biovian is multiskilled
At Biovian, project managers are in a central position. As the client contact points their role is critical in the projects. They combine the flow of information and knlowledge and orchestrate collaboration between the teams. This requires not only good communication and leadership skills, but also an understanding of the science that is utilized in the project. The development of new biological drugs and their manufacturing processes requires top-notch science. Even though the project teams have experts, the project manager also needs to have the scientific competence to lead the project effectively. Know-how in biochemistry and in the biotechnological techniques that are used in microbial and viral vector production and purification is a necessity.
Responsibilities common to all project managers, regardless of the field, include the project plan, the budget, the timeline and the coordination. The same applies at Biovian. As an example, one can mention the timely production and release of clinical material that fulfill the GMP requirements. To be successful, the project manager must understand both the drug development process and the regulatory requirements, while being mindful of the financial aspects.
Project managers must also be ready to do modifications and carry out negotiations, for example when the data suggests that some plans need to be revised. Changes in project plans are quite common, especially in projects still in the early development phase. This makes the project manager’s work highly interesting if one embraces change. As Soile Tuomela, one of the project managers at Biovian, puts it: “The ability to quickly adapt to changes and to strive for finding innovative solutions is a valuable asset in this position. Every project provides plenty of opportunities to utilize a broad spectrum of skills and to learn new things. It is extremely rewarding when we, as a team, succeed in fulfilling the client’s expectations. A project that is started from early process development may need a few years to reach completion. Team spirit and client relationships become strong and tight along the way,” she says.
The right mindset is the key
Although skills in areas such as communication, leadership, biochemistry, drug development, etc. are important, success in the project manager’s role depends on having the right mindset. Developing new drugs and biological manufacturing processes and characterization methods are demanding and require joint efforts and the ability to be flexible while under pressure. Project managers succeed when they gain motivation from cooperation, overcome challenges together and are enthusiastic about bringing new treatments to patients. At Biovian, the project managers take joy in working worldwide with highly professional clients and find it rewarding to play a crucial part in developing client products in response to unmet patient needs.
In summary: a project manager at Biovian is a science-driven individual with excellent coordination and people skills, adaptability, and a passion to make the client’s project a success.