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Career of the month: spotlight on a production position

Michael Iweins de Wavrans, 28 years old and a young father, is a production specialist at MaSTherCell since last August. This passionate scientist tells us about his journey with MaSTherCell, where he particularly appreciates the development challenges and opportunities in the setting of a human-size company.

MaSTherCell in three words Ambitious - Convivial - Inspirational

Can you describe the department in which you work? Your colleagues? The atmosphere? The place?

I am part of the production department at MaSTherCell, which consists of twenty employees that are working on different projects. For the moment I am working on an immunotherapy project for an American client who wants to conduct clinical batches in Europe. The project is carried out by nine people, so it is one of the current projects with a higher resource mobilization. We strive to produce and release high quality clinical batches. I particularly appreciate the team spirit and the will of the whole team to move in the same direction.

What is your job and your role in everyday life?

My role has changed a lot in a year and a half. I divide my daily time between documentary work such as reviewing production documents, and ensuring and maintaining the quality of what is produced, managing the project schedules and, of course, my work in the production area. What I like most about my job is the variety. We always work in pairs (an operator under flow and an operator in grade B, possibly a third person in training) and these teams of two regularly change, which facilitates group cohesion and builds the team spirit and confidence I mentioned before. We work together with other departments on a daily basis such as that of quality assurance, quality control and logistics. Having been among the first to work on the project, I also have a formative role for my new colleagues. I have to admit to be quite proud of this responsibility and delighted to share my experience and expertise.

What is your background?

I have been attracted to the sciences since I was very young, particularly to biology and chemistry. So I started a training as a bioengineer at UCL (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium), because this training allowed me to have a real science to industry application. During my studies I discovered an affinity with the pharmaceutical domain. After working in automotive events for some time, I decided to return to my first love, biology. Through a passion for the subject and a particular interest in biology and more specifically biotechnology and cel culture, I then followed the Cefochim training that allowed me to complete my studies and be better equipped to find employment in the field.

What has been your evolution within MaSTherCell?

I arrived at MaSTherCell as an intern in January 2014, following the Cefochim training. After a month and a half, I got the opportunity to continue my adventure as a production technician. During this period, we started the project I'm still working on today. Since August, a new challenge has begun for me, with new tasks and more autonomy, since I became a production specialist. My development has been very fast and over the course of a year and a half I moved from intern to production specialist. I've worked hard to get there, but I also believe that the dynamics of MaSTherCell were an important factor. I am not an isolated case, two other colleagues have developed along with me, from specialist to supervisor.

Why did you choose MaSTherCell?

I chose MaSTherCell first and foremost out of a passion for the cell therapy industry. Moreover, developing within a CDMO (Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization) makes for work on a variety of projects and products. It's pretty exciting to have to adapt to these different projects. I really enjoy being involved at every stage of the project, and I am proud to have taken part in the first clinical batch released in November 2014. It is a good career catalyst, that allows me to obtain a lot of experience. By interacting with other departments, I have also been able to expand my vision on the production of a cell therapy product at other key stages of development and manufacturing.

What makes you get up in the morning?

My son crying, I am a young father after all (laughs). But also the anticipation of working with a cohesive team that is ready to meet new challenges. Every day is different.

What are the challenges of your job?

One of the challenges is to work with something living, the cells do not always react like we would want them to. It makes our work as exciting, as it is unexpected.

Where do you see yourself in three years?

I would like to be responsible for a project, have the first contact with the customer and transpose the production from a client to MaSTherCell.

How would you describe yourself in 144 characters? #cellculturelover

Curious #lifesciencelover, enhanced by scientific rigor and attracted by the mindset of a start-up in full development. I work a bit like a demonstration: observation, analysis and then I draw conclusions.

Why join MaSThercell? 

  • Possibility of rapid career change with MaSTherCell (from trainee to production specialist in 1 and a half year)
  • Multiple projects and a variety of activities (CDMO)
  • A convivial and stimulating environment (young company)
  • Global perspective on a project (from technology transfer to clinical batch)