Expert of the Week - George Williams

George Williams

Lab Services Associate 2 at Compass Group

What is your professional background?

 I acquired a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at McDaniel College. After graduating I took a chance on a contract that required a lot of travel in the hopes that it would lead to a more permanent position. My opportunity paid off, as after the contract finished I was hired full time as a contractor. That was 3.5 years ago.

What inspired you to choose this industry for your career?

I always loved math and science in school, so I wanted a career focused in that. Biotech was a natural choice and had the additional advantage of being able to help a lot of people who require our products to live and to live comfortably.

In layman's terms, what do you do?

I produce the buffers, solutions and media that the MedImmune Research and Development end users require to do their job. It’s far cheaper to produce these in house than to order them from an external provider.

What has been your greatest accomplishment at Compass Group?

The MedImmune company used to purchase Sheathe Solution from an outside provider. I produced a method of making large quantities of it in house, thus saving the company $25,000/month.

What are some things that you wish others better understood about the work that you do?

My lab services department is always looking for opportunities to expand into new projects, so don’t be afraid to ask for unusual jobs. In business if you’re not actively expanding, you’re contracting.

What are the most common mistakes that can occur within the lab?

Waiting until the last minute to make a request. My turn around for fulfilling requests is fast, but I do request at least a 24 hour notice ahead of time. Some days I’m just too busy to give same day service.

What do you foresee in the near future?

I am currently seeking an entry level position as a Research Associate.  

What about the long term?

Some advancement in my field would be preferable. Within my current environment my preferred title would be “Associate Scientist”. It’s a salaried position that works primarily in the labs still and is 1 step below management.

What resources do you use to stay informed?

I have been trained in GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) and must occasionally renew various courses and SOP with my employer in order to maintain that company certification.

In the classic saying, “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger,” what are some experiences that you wish you had known about ahead of time?

Career advancement requires skill and hard work, but those are just the minimum requirements. Networking and the ability to cooperate within a group determines how well you advance.  

What advice would you give to someone looking to becoming involved with lab services?

Don’t be surprised if you must do a lot of contract work at the start. In my experience, Biotech companies only hire you if they need to own the intellectual property rights of your work. For jobs that don’t depend on owning those rights, it’s always cheaper to higher contractors.