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Behind the Goggles with Fiona Miller

In this series we get to know the person behind the lab coat and goggles. This month, we meet Senior Study Manager, Fiona Miller.  

Pause and Recalibrate 

Late in November 2019, I began my journey with Antibody Analytics. Since then, the world has seen countless changes, making my time here feel both short and extensive - a truly unusual sensation!

My path to Antibody Analytics wasn't straightforward. My degree in immunology and pharmacology initially led me to consider a PhD. However, during my final year project, I found myself questioning whether academia was the right fit for me. It was a significant moment, causing me to reassess my career plans.

Instead of pursuing further academic research, I decided to transition into the industry. I joined a local company in 2013 as a Bioanalytical Analyst soon progressing to the role of Study Manager. With six years of experience under my belt, I had a great set of skills to offer Antibody Analytics as a Senior Study Manager… And here I am!  

Not All Scientific Settings Are The Same 

Even in the realm of high-tech, sterile spaces, it becomes apparent that not all laboratories are designed the same way. Antibody Analytics offers a chance to try out the latest techniques and equipment, with R&D performed alongside Customer studies.

The leadership at Antibody Analytics has intentionally created a different kind of workspace. We still have the essence of a tight-knit startup; we enjoy outings together, unlike larger corporations where holiday celebrations or social gatherings are often confined to specific groups. This sense of togetherness also extends to our professional interactions, where we freely share knowledge and offer support. It may sound a bit cliché, but it truly feels like we're part of a larger family.

Discovering My Niche 

Honestly, I can't shake the feeling that Antibody Analytics is the perfect fit for me. I've truly found my niche, and it's going pretty well! Nowadays, I find myself steering the bioanalytical team and I'm fortunate to have an excellent team to work with. 

What came as a pleasant surprise is how much I enjoy the technical discussions with our clients. I've been knee-deep in assays for the longest time, and don't get me wrong, I still get a thrill from diving deep into raw data and analysing trends. But there's something uniquely rewarding about engaging with a new client, understanding their needs, and crafting a package that answers their questions. 

Over the last few years, we've received some great feedback from our clients. One instance that particularly stands out involves a client caught in a tricky situation in the lead-up to a regulatory submission. Things hadn't gone as planned and their previous partner had fallen short. So, it felt particularly rewarding when we could step in and devise a solution that worked for them. They were able to submit that to regulators, get good feedback and transform a potentially huge roadblock to a solution focused result – no panic, no drama, no massive stress. Maybe we should wear a cape rather than goggles!   

A Supportive Culture 

I’m very proud of the supportive environment we have here at Antibody Analytics.  Despite the inevitable stresses that come with any job, there's always a comforting presence here, ready to offer a cup of tea and lend an ear.

This supportive environment extends to how we welcome and integrate new team members. I recall a new study manager transitioning from an academic background who found our quality system tasks quite a culture shift. A more seasoned study manager, who had a similar experience during the transition from academia to industry, voluntarily stepped up to provide regular support and share knowledge - not because they were asked to, but because it's simply the way we operate here. 

We know how to balance work with fun. Our social committee is a testament to that - we're a lively bunch, no doubt about it! Our founders, Andy and Micha, are passionate about making the workplace as enjoyable as possible. They actively seek input from staff on what matters to them, leading to the creation of several committees focused on employee desires and needs.

Our Wellbeing Committee, for instance, ensures we're looking after our personal health alongside our professional responsibilities. The Employee Engagement Committee acts as a voice for everyone, making sure all concerns and ideas reach the leadership team.

We use our annual employee survey to gauge feelings across a variety of topics. By comparing anonymised feedback year-on-year, we can identify areas of improvement and aspects that need more attention. It's been rewarding to see the positive trend in wellness feedback over the years. Additionally, we hold open sessions where staff can directly communicate any specific issues or suggestions to the leadership team.

Beyond the Lab Coat

Playing an integral role in these committees has enriched my understanding of my team and the wider company mood. It allows me to directly address their concerns by initiating conversations like, "Hey, we've received some feedback about this issue. Is this something that's bothering you too? Is there anything else on your mind?" Having this broader perspective from the company-wide feedback is invaluable.

The social dynamics of the committees bring me in contact with colleagues from various departments that I might not usually interact with. This often leads to work-related discussions and open communication. I've found that when people are comfortable discussing everyday matters, they're more likely to open up about significant issues. 

In essence, my role at Antibody Analytics goes beyond the professional sphere. It's about connecting with people, understanding their concerns, and fostering a supportive and engaging environment. It's about being a people's person, even behind the lab coat.


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Fiona Miller
Senior Study Manager
Published: 2023-06-05