Meet Karen, Informatics Operations Manager at Roche

switzerland, basel, research, blog, informatics

Hi, my name is…

 ...Karen. I was born in England and moved to Switzerland in January 2009. I am a Graduate member of the Institute of Personnel Management (now CIPD) from Salford University and hold a Management Services Diploma from Manchester University and a Master’s in Business Administration from Cranfield University, Bedford. I’ve had a very diverse career in both public and private sectors and I’ve worked in a variety of disciplines including Work Study, Organisation & Methods, HR, and countless IT domains, i.e. Training, Applications, Service Management, Infrastructure and Operations and Business Management. I’ve worked in Pharma Research for the last 21 years, formerly with one pharmaceutical company and now with Roche.

My typical day at work is…

…definitely not typical. I am an Informatics Manager in the Research function leading two very diverse informatics teams. The first has the responsibility to deliver Technical Operational Solutions to scientists to process and analyse discovery and real world data. The second is responsible for delivering business support to the informatics department to ensure all projects and services are best placed to deliver to the strategic agenda. The technical and business groups demand very different approaches and skills. The Business Operations group looks after the operating model, budgets, procurement and contracts and the services and projects portfolio. The focus is on “efficiency and effectiveness” and brings structure to the department. The Technical Operations group is the bigger of the two and is focused on the provision of technical platforms and infrastructure required to support pRED growth. Capabilities include Laboratory Computing, Unix, Linux, High Performance Computing and other non-standard and state-of-the-art technologies. I love the combination of the two groups and the different demands they make on me and my skills. It’s certainly always exciting!

The location I am working at is…

… really fab!  I work at the main Roche site in Basel on the 6th floor of an 8-storey glass-fronted building with great views along the Rhine and beyond.  The site is developing fast and there are multiple opportunities for lunch and after-work activities on site or close by.

I live in France and have a 25-minute commute by car into the office.  I chose to live in a rural and beautiful part of France as I am a country girl at heart coming from a farming background in England. I love nothing more than to horse ride or walk with my dog in the forest. One of the reasons why we chose our French village was because it is on the Swiss tram network.  This obviously meant freedom for my daughter as she went through school and also a backup for us when we didn’t wish to drive.

My work helps Roche to…

…grow.  Where would you be in healthcare without Informatics? There is a growing flood of data into Life Sciences, which includes DNA sequence, proteomic, cell imaging and many other data types which together create computing complexity requiring significant effort to integrate and analyse. My team provides and manages the infrastructure and operations to bring this data to the scientists’ and informaticians’ fingertips in a format that allows them to make great scientific insights. The Business Operations team manages the organisation of the department so that each member can play to their strengths. They ensure that the departmental resources deliver optimum value for pRED (Pharma Research and Early Development). Not everyone who works for Roche can be patient-facing, however most realise that the work they do enables more scientific innovations and greater improvements to patient lives. In Roche it’s truly about team work and my teams all know how they enable others to improve patient lives.

Roche as an employer is…

…the best I have ever experienced. I have worked for many organisations and really do believe that Roche is up there with the best. There are many great managers in Roche and I am convinced that one’s experience is influenced by one’s manager. Roche expects the best from its managers and there are values, guidelines, leadership commitments and a multitude of support mechanisms in place to really ensure that managers have all they need to help their staff to shine. There are countless development opportunities to progress or broaden ones experiences and opportunities for more flexible working where required. Basel is a hub that attracts many different cultures and consequently our daily life involves working in teams and experiencing this unique mix coming together.

In my department we are looking for…

…a Global Area Head for a new function comprising Solution Development and Technical Informatics Operations. The position joins the departmental leadership team of pRED Informatics and has accountability for a team of around 30 – 35 scientists and computer scientists who support architecture, infrastructure, operations and solution development for pRED. This function supports scientific informatics delivery and requires technology innovation, agile practices and the use of non-standard and state-of-the-art equipment and software. Supporting a research group requires proactivity and agility, and these skills need to be supplemented with professional and effective delivery and management. 

The function comprises a variety of nationalities, ages and skillsets, some with science and some without, but all of high calibre, intelligence and capability.

Part of this new function is the existing pRED Informatics (pREDi) Technical Operations group, which I will leave behind when I start a new position, also within Roche. I can highly recommend both the staff and the work in Technical Operations to anyone considering the position. It has been my great pleasure to work with this group for the last 3 years and I am sure my successor will also have a rewarding experience.

More information about the aforementioned position can be found here

Tags: Career Blog, Switzerland, Basel, Research