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Learning About Current Trends in Biotechnology Industry at an IMU Forum with Industry Experts

22 Oct 2019

26 September 2019 – A ‘Forum with Industry Experts’ session themed “Current Trends in the Biotechnology Industry: Market Needs and Demands in Malaysia and Abroad – The Requirements of New Recruits in terms of Work Ethics and Academic Performance” was held under the Communication Skills and Etiquette module in Semester 5 of IMU’s Medical Biotechnology (MB) programme. The forum spanned 5 hours and it started off with a talk by Koo Siew Ling, Senior Commercial Manager from Thermo Fisher Scientific. In her talk, Koo addressed some key attributes and skills that current employers are looking for in fresh graduates by specifically using Thermo Fisher – the world leader in servicing science as a reference. This was followed by a comprehensive talk from Ooi Ghee Chien, Senior Head of Laboratory & Development from Cryocord Sdn Bhd. Aside from highlighting the current government’s initiatives, Ooi’s talk also focused on the career options that are available for biotechnology graduates. After a light refreshment, we had the honour and privilege to listen to four of our very own MB alumni. All the alumni are currently embarking into four main career options within the biotechnology industry in Malaysia. They enlightened us on their journeys as IMU’s MB graduates from what they have gone through to realising their achievements. There were also very interactive Q&A sessions after each talk given by the speakers and some even further sought for advice over lunch! The alumni sharing session kick started with the talk by Sharmen Chong Huai Shiang, from MB1/08. Sharmen is currently the Managing Director of NBC Food Industries Sdn Bhd. In this session, Sharmen shared with the audience the challenges she faced as the founder of UFI Universal Food Ingredients Sdn Bhd that acts as the marketing arm for NBC. The next speaker was Ling Zhi Ni, who graduated in 2013. She shared her experiences and expectation of a Regulatory Affair Admin Associate, a position that she holds at Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) Sdn Bhd Malaysia from 2014 to 2016 as well as her current appointment as a Product Specialist at Novartis Corporation (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. Next in line was Abbie Chong Hor Yan from MB1/11. Currently, Abbie is the Site and Intelligence Activation Associate at PPD Malaysia Pte Ltd. She shared in great detail on the job description and expectation from those involved in drug development and clinical trials – a career that is very close and relevant to medical biotechnology graduates. The last session of the day was a talk on embarking into postgraduate studies cum research and development by Adam Lim Wui Zhuan from MB1/09. Adam enlightened the audience on how his bioinformatics related final year project has in fact opened up his mind to proceed into the computational and theoretical chemistry area at Masters level. Currently, he is pursuing PhD in Bioinformatics at University Malaya. This session was indeed a fruitful as well as beneficial session for all of us in MB1/17 – either for those who are looking for internship or those who are looking for their future career. Our sincere thanks and appreciation to the guest speakers, industry partners, Career Development Unit and also our MB lecturers for this very beneficial session.

Some Feedback from Participants
“I felt honoured to be a part of the industry forum session, as the speakers had broadened my view on MB career pathways. Some of the speakers’ talks had really attracted my interest based on their insight and experiences, especially Zhi Ni, a product specialist. As I am an outgoing person, I’d like to travel and interact with others, rather than staying in the same environment for a long period of time. Moreover, a product specialist has to meet target sales every month in order to earn commission, and I believe that this type of environment will motivate me to achieve my goals. Therefore, her experiences as a product specialist had enlightened me, and now, product specialist will be listed as one of my future careers” Ng Jiun Yeong
“The speaker that interests me the most at the industry forum is Abbie Chong. I learnt about the differences between pre-clinical trial and clinical trial with its advantages as well as the importance of clinical trial before a drug is approved for commercialisation. As a clinical research officer, one is able to interact with patients and determine whether any sides effects are shown in the patients. I believe this would be one of my career choices in the future.” Melvin Teoh
“I really appreciate being a part of the industry forum session as it has helped me to learn what is expected from us by future employers. All the speakers were talking about the different career paths that could be followed by having a degree in Medical Biotechnology, and they helped me to realise how I could start to plan for the future ahead. Most of the speakers mentioned a period of adjustment during the transition from a university setting into the working environment. I feel that to have an open minded approach with the right mind set is the most important step in this process, as well as being humble and enthusiastic about the path we want to pursue”. Dhanashree
“The industrial forum has provided me with an understanding and a rough idea about what I can do in the future. It has opened my mind to the other possible career pathways that I have not thought of before. The advice given by each speaker was both beneficial and helpful for me in planning my career. I was personally enlightened by Zhi Ni as she explained about being a product specialist. She made me very interested in being a product specialist because of the working environment that I would be in”. Carmen Chia
“The industrial forum provided valuable insight into our various career paths. The speakers were well versed in their fields and provided useful and beneficial experience that better enables us to prepare as we enter the workforce. I was inspired by Madam Koo from Thermo Fisher whereby she highlighted on certain important values that one should cultivate and possess when working in the industry. Upon further dialogue with her, it is evident that she understands the challenges faced by both employers and employees and strives to resolve these issues. She possesses an admirable working attitude and is seemingly stern but also has a nurturing attitude towards her staff. I felt honoured to be able to converse and listen to what she had to share with us and I would highly recommend her for the next forum for the benefit of the next intake”. Hans Lee

Written by Chai Pei Ling (MB1/17)

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