Name: Thomas Huff
How long have you been with Metrics Contract Services?
What is your role?
Analytical Chemist for External Commercial Quality Control Clients and Cleaning Validation Development
What project or area of work is your specialty or makes you proud?
I’ve spent the most time working on analytical testing for some of our commercial clients, but I most enjoy the time I get to spend with specialty projects that require a lot of outside-the-box thinking. Since joining the company, I’ve consistently tried to come up with process improvements from helping with how we structure scheduling of regular testing to contributing to method improvement projects.
Are there any special organizational strategies you use to be efficient at work?
As I’m intimately familiar with most of the methods I run day-to-day, I try not to over-plan so I can be flexible with last minute changes to our schedule, depending on client needs. But my general strategy for planning includes knowing or estimating exactly how long each step will take in a process so I can find places to multi-task. Learning how to anticipate which parts of any given project might be most problematic comes from both experience with related tasks and knowing how to ask the right questions well in advance.
I think one of the most important efficiency-gaining tools for anyone working in a commercial environment is to learn how to realistically and accurately estimate how much time a given task will take and also how small changes in their workflow can reduce those times. It can be hard to see how a lot of small efficiency gains can impact the bigger picture, but it makes the entire group more flexible and more productive. Regular communication with your co-workers and supervisors also makes things flow a lot better throughout the day.
What are your team’s latest achievements?
We recently took on two more major clients after spending several years bringing a large client through a rushed FDA filing into the commercial space—all while dealing with the current pandemic’s impact on our work schedule. The ability of our group to support our primary clients along with taking on overflow work from both the internal QC team and from other analytical groups has been extremely impressive at both the bench chemist and management levels.
How do you think those accomplishments might impact the contract pharmaceutical industry and the industry at large?
Our group’s flexibility and ability to handle a diverse client base in the OSD commercial space should be attractive to any client at that stage. We spend a lot of time up front applying what we’ve learned from previous projects to improve methods and processes with long-term support in mind. I think the general attitude in our group is that it’s always worth spending the time now to make things optimal because it limits your exposure to mistakes in the long term.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I feel most validated when I’m able to take on a difficult analytical or instrument-related issue and come up with a real solution based on scientific principles. It’s especially rewarding in the commercial space, where your available options are more restricted and you need creative, compliant solutions. Sometimes seemingly insignificant process improvements can build up and really add a lot of flexibility and capability to the team.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from one of your mentors/colleagues?
Always try to do work that builds your resume/CV. I think people sometimes treat their resume as something they only need when they’re applying to a new job at a different company, but constantly finding ways to build your skill set (even if it goes outside your current job description) is a great way to keep engaged and to be productive in your current role. I think it applies generally, but it is important to continuously learn new skills and become comfortable with new technologies as a chemist.