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Exploring Biomanufacturing Careers in NC

The Jobs Networking event at the NC Biotech Center for the month of April was on Exploring Biomanufacturing Bruno Pancorbo,  Downstream Process Manager for Medicago,  discusses his formula for finding the right candidate for a jobCareers in NC. The event was organized by Dr. Kimberley Parker of Biogen Idec and Dr. Barbara Ressler of Teleflex Medical; Dr. Parker moderated the panel discussion.  North Carolina ranks among the top three biotechnology regions in the United States with a statewide presence that continues to expand. Biomanufacturing (products obtained from living cells) represents a significant part of this expansion. Despite a significant decline in general manufacturing across North Carolina in the past decade, the state’s biomanufacturing companies showed 5.3% annual growth since 2002 and are projecting 6.2% annual growth between 2011 and 2014.

We had a great turn-out to hear our 3 panelists discuss the different career options biomanufacturing provides. Roughly one fifth of our audience was at the biotech center for the first time. Our 3 panelists were: Travis Pysar from Biogen Idec, Bruno Pancorbo from Medicago, and Ray Anover from BTEC. They represented all facets of biomanufacturing in NC: large corporations, small corporations, and academia.

To view their bios and presentations, please click on the following links:

Travis Pysar, Biogen Idec
Bruno Pancorbo, Medicago
Ray Anover, BTEC

Travis kicked us off describing the structure of biomanufacturing at Biogen Idec. He described the hiring process, where entry level positions are usually filled via a temporary staffing agency and higher level positions are filled directly. He emphasized that mid- to senior-level candidates need to highlight relevant experience when applying for the job. In particular, candidates with advanced degrees can look for positions that support manufacturing, such as process development or manufacturing sciences. Biogen Idec is a large, stable, and growing company with low employee turnover.

Bruno followed up with an introduction to Medicago, a smaller biotech company that produces vaccines in plants. He focused on the differences between large and small biomanufacturing environments for the job seeker. He encouraged candidates to consider their skills and personal preferences when choosing where to work. Small companies may be less stable and have lower compensation packages, but they provide more learning opportunities on the job and closer relationships with co-workers. Biomanufacturing offers many types of jobs, some that are highly variable from day to day (process development) and some that are more repetitive (manufacturing technician). The job seeker should consider his/her temperament and preferences when pursuing open positions.

Finally, Ray gave us an overview of the Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training & Education Center (BTEC) at NC State University. He described the undergraduate and graduate curriculum options available. There are catalog and custom professional development courses offered primarily in the summer that audience members could take if they wanted to enhance their biomanufacturing education. BTEC also offers online American Institute of Chemical Engineers courses and training in FDA inspections.

The session wrapped up with a Q&A from the audience. Job seekers left with tips and advice on how best apply for positions at these companies, and ways they can make themselves stand out in the application process. The Q&A session continues on the NCBiotech Jobs Network LinkedIn group if you have more questions for our panelists.

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