Recent Grad Uses Degree at PPD
Kylie Lackore was brought in as an assistant scientist in 2015 and was promoted to an associate scientist in 2016. She earned a bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Hawaii Pacific University.
Interviewer: What attracted you to PPD? What’s kept you motivated to excel in your position?
Lackore: What attracted me to PPD is that they accept new graduates and are able to effectively train them to be successful at their job. It’s also encouraging to know I am an important part of the drug-approval process, albeit a small portion, and I make a direct impact to help improve health. I am motivated by finishing projects and meeting client deadlines, becoming more knowledgeable about the industry, and by knowing that I am producing good work that has scientific integrity.
Interviewer: What’s your favorite part of working at PPD?
Lackore: My favorite part of working at PPD is the constant opportunity to learn new things. There is no shortage of tests and methods to learn, so once I’ve become comfortable with one method and have performed it for a while, I can learn and become proficient in something new.
Interviewer: What’s a day in the life at PPD?
Lackore: There are two types of days for me at PPD: a lab day and an office day. Both start the same. I read emails and get a handle on what I’m expected to accomplish that day. If I’m scheduled to work in the lab, I will collect the documents I need for testing and determine which samples to test. Then I collect the glassware and equipment needed for testing. Depending on the test, it can take a couple hours to multiple days to prepare samples. Once samples are prepared, if it’s required, I run them on whatever instrument the method specifies, usually a high performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC). The remainder of the day is spent cleaning up, completing documentation and usage for samples and equipment, and monitoring the instrument output. An office day is comprised of processing chromatograms, entering data into reports, addressing audit comments and preparing reports for the client. In between tasks on both days I answer emails, attend meetings and keep up with training requirements.
Interviewer: Can you describe the environment at PPD? How is the work/life balance?
Lackore: The environment at lab is fairly casual and flexible. The dress code is casual, I have a flexible start time and I generally work 8 hour days. On occasion there is a need to stay later than 5 p.m. to finish my work.
Our office has an open layout, which makes it easy for me to ask my colleagues questions. I like that my coworkers are always willing to help if I have a request.
Interviewer: How do you feel PPD’s training program has helped you succeed in your current position?
Lackore: I think one of PPD’s greatest strengths is its training program. The orientation program for new employees provided me with the basic expectations of working at PPD. This included documentation requirements, equipment usage — balances, pH meters, pipettes, ovens — and solution preparation. Following the orientation, the training department provided general classes, such as Empower, which is used in conjunction with running samples on HPLC instruments, and United States Pharmacopeia training. My coworkers taught me about client-specific testing and methods. PPD has provided training opportunities, such as a new test method, learning a new instrument or how to document when errors (e.g., nonconformances) are made throughout my time.
Interviewer: What techniques did you learn in school that you use in your position at PPD?
Lackore: As a science major, I use many of the basic techniques that I learned in lab classes, such as using balances, pipettes and glassware appropriately. Additionally, the ability to follow a method and document it effectively was a skill that prepared me for working in the lab at PPD. Outside of the lab, writing and communication skills that I practiced in almost all of my school classes have been an integral part of everyday work at PPD.
Interviewer: What new skills have you learned in your position at PPD?
Lackore: I have learned numerous new skills while working at PPD. My documentation skills and ability to read methods and protocols has improved immensely from when I first started working at PPD. I have learned how to operate various instruments and equipment, including HPLCs, gas chromatography, next generation impactor, Anderson cascade impactor and oxygen analyzers. I have also learned to carry out and write investigations and nonconformances, as well as various project management skills.
Interviewer: What opportunities do you have for growth at PPD?
Lackore: There are many opportunities I have taken advantage of and that still await me at PPD. When I first started working at PPD, I worked for one client and trained on all the test methods available for that client. Once I became comfortable with those methods I was able to train on different methods for other clients. There are so many different clients and methods that it will be hard to run out of new things to learn. There have also been many opportunities within my group to take on more responsibilities. For example, I work as a subject matter expert in transitioning methods from paper notes to an electronic notebook, and provide support for project management when needed.
To see what PPD offers recent graduates, please visit www.ppdi.com/careers.