Careers at CatSci Part 5: Sofia Papadouli & Duncan Thompson

Oct 11th 2021
Careers at CatSci Part 5 - Image of Dr Sofia Papadouli & Duncan Thompson

A Conversation with our Team Members

Welcome to the latest edition of our Careers at CatSci series. CatSci is made up of real people with a real passion and purpose. We all share the same values – integrity, commitment and expertise – and it is these values that drive us every day to make a difference in not just the pharmaceutical world, but the world in general.

It’s for this reason that we created our Careers at CatSci series; our fifth instalment focuses on Sofia and Duncan, who told us all about their career paths and what working at CatSci is really like. Duncan is our Analytical Team Leader, while Sofia is our Marketing and Communications Manager.

Dr Sofia Papadouli (She/Her) is the Marketing and Communications manager at CatSci, but her background has always been in science. After completing her PhD at the University of Bristol, she joined CatSci five years ago as a process development scientist, before making the leap to head up our marketing team.

Duncan Thompson (He/Him) is the analytical Team Leader at CatSci. He got his Master’s degree in Chemistry at the University of Oxford, before working as a Senior Process Analyst and PAT Team Leader at GSK. He joined CatSci in January 2020.

Describe a typical day in your role

Sofia: At the start of the week, I meet with our COO and Commercial Director, Simon, to discuss the marketing activities of the week ahead and to plan for the future. Throughout the day, I liaise with the Business Development team to ensure that our objectives are completely aligned, and to discuss how the Marketing team can best support them. I also work closely with the technical team, as they contribute to blog posts and thought leadership pieces. I spend a good chunk of my day talking to our external partners about new projects, reviewing their work and then promoting it through our social channels: LinkedInTwitter and Instagram.

Duncan: Even when I’m commuting to work, I’m already planning out the key goals that I want to achieve that day. Every day is different, with a wide variety of activities. A typical week includes reviewing analytical data and plans, driving resolutions of issues and challenges, strategic planning (such as staff recruitment, facilities and equipment), leadership meetings, development planning and 1:1s. Amongst all of this, making myself available to support team members at all times is critical; if I can address their pain points, then we will all benefit and move forward.

What is the working environment at CatSci like?

Sofia: I love being a part of the CatSci team! Everyone is so friendly and ready to help when needed. We are a pretty sociable bunch, so pre-pandemic we never wasted an opportunity to meet up after work for a drink or try out a new a restaurant. During the pandemic, we’ve launched Wellbeing Thursdays, which include short talks about topics that the CatSci team are passionate about, meditation classes, lunch-time virtual quizzes, and weekly virtual lunch breaks. These activities are particularly important to me as I’ve been working remotely since the start of the pandemic; it’s nice to still keep in touch and do things together, even if only virtually.

Duncan: From the very first day, I felt really welcomed to the team. The people here are friendly, genuine, and will really go out of their way to help others. This sense of teamwork is very motivating as well as rewarding. The pace of change is phenomenal, it makes it a very exciting place to work as each day is different. There are also so many opportunities for development across the organisation.

What element of your work do you enjoy most?

Sofia: I enjoy spreading the word about the team’s achievements, from scientific papers and presentations, to thought pieces and awards. The team all do such amazing work, so it’s nice to be able to tell everyone about it!

Duncan: I enjoy coaching and developing people to be their best. I also enjoy having an impact on the delivery of company strategy, whether that’s working directly on projects or pitching to new customers. It’s very rewarding being able to make suggestions that will have a positive impact on the team and our mission, and seeing them implemented quickly.

When did you realise you wanted a career in this sector and what steps did you take to get there?

Sofia: I joined CatSci as a lab scientist five years ago, right after finishing my PhD in chemistry. I thoroughly enjoyed this role; however, after two years in the lab, I decided that I was ready for a new challenge. Coincidentally, there was an opening in the commercial team around this time. When I found this out, I jumped into the opportunity and I haven’t looked back since! It’s very rewarding to be able to use my technical background to promote the excellent work that we deliver to our customers so that they can meet patients’ needs. The CatSci team is full of very talented people who are passionate about science – they make my job so much easier!

Duncan: I have always been scientifically curious, and chemistry has always been my preferred discipline. My Master’s degree included a significant amount of analytical chemistry development, and I realised that this was something that I really enjoyed so I applied for API Analytical Chemistry Development roles.

What are your career aspirations?

Sofia: I would like to continue developing my expertise in marketing within the pharmaceutical sector, and continue to grow and lead CatSci’s marketing team.

Duncan: To lead a successful analytical department where people are the best they can be.

What are some of your career highlights or your most proud moment to date?

Sofia: My proudest moment was when I successfully delivered the new CatSci brand after only being in the role for six months.

Duncan: Developing and successfully filing analytical methods in new products, as well as providing advocacy with EMEA on amendments to regulatory guidance. My proudest moment has to be seeing the new analytical facility in Dagenham fully up and operational, delivering value to both the business and our customers.

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar career path?

Sofia: Work for a company whose purpose you truly believe in. This will make your life so much easier!

Duncan: Technical excellence is key, but behavioural competencies are equally as important. Gain breadth as well as depth of knowledge, and continue to learn. It’s important to join the dots in a novel way between scientific areas to continue to evolve.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Sofia: There is not only one career path you can take.

Duncan: Push yourself to be slightly uncomfortable at all times, and continually do something that means you’re learning something new. Keep up to date with the advances in your field and similar areas – if you’re working in the right field, this will seem like a hobby and will inspire and excite you. Keep an open mind to new ideas, and leverage mentors and senior staff for coaching.

CatSci is celebrating its 10th birthday. What do you think is in store for CatSci in the next 10 years?

Sofia: I predict there will be more great science, more capabilities, and more growth. Watch this space!

Duncan: Expansion into different areas of drug development and different modalities, coupled with growth in capabilities. Given our agility and focus, I think we’ll be able to capitalise on digitalisation and new technologies.

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.