A Conversation with our Team Members
For the latest addition of our Careers at CatSci blog series, we spoke to two more of our team members: Jas Douville and Seb York. They delved into their career paths and what they love most about being a part of the CatSci team.
Jas Douville is CatSci’s Head of Business Development in North America, and he holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada. After working as a medicinal chemist for a few years he decided to pursue a career in business development.
Seb York is CatSci’s Talent Lead and Equality and Diversity Champion. Seb holds a BA in Business and Human Resource Management, alongside, ATHE Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Business Management and CMI Level 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management. He is currently completing his Master’s in Human Resource Management and Level 7 Diploma from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Describe a typical day in your role
Jas Douville: As a business development professional in a pharmaceutical environment, my role is at the interface of science, technology, business and marketing. My day typically involves keeping an eye on current projects and making sure that current and future needs of our customers are met by attending progress report meetings with the technical team and by constant communication by email or videoconference with the customer. I also spend time trying to uncover new opportunities and identify potential projects where CatSci could add value. Before COVID-19, this meant traveling to meet customers, and attend conferences and trade shows. However, much of that is now accomplished through virtual platforms.
Seb York: Each day is different, which is something that I enjoy. I am working closely both with my HR and technical colleagues. My time is split between speaking to potential candidates and promoting our fantastic opportunities, working on ‘fit-for-future’ HR policies and processes, and increasing our diversity and inclusion across the business. I also enjoy collaborating with our Commercial and Marketing team to build an employer brand that is lasting and positive.
What is the working environment at CatSci like?
Jas: CatSci enables me to be fully autonomous yet provides all the support I might need. That is especially important given that I am based in North America while the bulk of the organization is in the UK. The CatSci team works truly collaboratively and that means that every day I talk to my colleagues across different departments to ensure that we add strategic value to our customers’ projects. Despite the distance, I feel that I am fully integrated in the team.
Seb: I know that I am biased, but I would describe it as ‘great’. We are working in a challenging and stimulating environment, operating as a ‘family unit’ where respect and understanding are common values. Each new team member is assessed not only against their technical capabilities but also personal traits, ensuring that, regardless of how diverse we are, we have a common goal and approach.
What element of your work do you enjoy most?
Jas: From my perspective, business development is all about helping people. Nothing is more gratifying than meeting someone who faces a challenge and recognising you can offer them the right solution! Knowing that this solution will enable the customer to accelerate their medicine development program and eventually help patients in need is extremely rewarding.
Seb: As cliché as it may sound, I enjoy everything I do. Every single activity adds to the overall success of the company and that is why I try to excel in every task.
When did you realise you wanted a career in this sector and what steps did you take to get there?
Jas: Grad school prepared me well for a lab career in the pharma industry, which is exactly what I did after my PhD. However, after a few years as a medicinal chemist, I got interested in other ways I could use my training and experience to help bring new therapeutics to the market. This is what eventually led me to pursue a career outside of the lab. Business development allows me to be on the front line of pharmaceutical development and identify projects where CatSci’s expertise can help to deliver best-in-class therapeutics to patients around the world.
Seb: I have been involved with different aspects of Human Resources for over 10 years now, however, it was my role at the Work Company (part of the Growth Company) in 2014, where I was supporting underrepresented individuals in obtaining training and work opportunities, that defined my further career choices.
What are your career aspirations?
Jas: My goal is to expedite CatSci’s expansion in North America by providing tailored drug development solutions to the market.
Seb: I am hoping to grow my expertise and career alongside CatSci’s growth. Eventually, I would love to be more involved in wider Corporate Social Responsibility activities.
What are some of your career highlights or your most proud moment to date?
Jas: Business development can be challenging but orchestrating a project, from the very first introduction call all the way to the final knowledge transfer, is what makes it all worthwhile.
Seb: Increasing awareness of equality, diversity, and inclusion is one of the most important tasks in my view, and each time I can influence a change I feel proud.
What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career path?
Jas: It is crucial to take the time to fully understand the customers’ project objectives and identify the challenges they face. This approach enables us to make sure that the solution we propose is scientifically and commercially unbiased. Being honest and transparent is the only way to build trust, which I believe is the foundation of every successful relationship.
Seb: In my opinion, ongoing learning and development is a key to success, however, working with like-minded people helps a lot.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Jas: The best things happen when you are willing to step out of your comfort zone to learn new things. Being curious and on the lookout for opportunities to help those around you is the best way to build a positive influence both inside and outside your organization.
Seb: Don’t dream it, live it!
CatSci is celebrating its 10th birthday. What do you think is in store for CatSci in the next 10 years?
Jas: Tricky question! Who could have predicted where CatSci would be now, 10 years ago? There are so many areas of Drug Substance and Drug Product where we feel that the pharma industry is currently under-served. I am sure that soon CatSci will be in an excellent position to fill those needs by expanding its offerings and building a broad and diverse team with varied skillsets across the CMC landscape. I can’t wait to meet all my future colleagues!
Seb: Our scientists are fantastic in what they do, and the next 10 years will bring more recognition for the outstanding work of our talented scientists.
Are you interested in joining the CatSci team? You can find our current vacancies here
Take a look at the rest of our Careers at CatSci series here.