Meet Adrian, Project Engineer at Roche
Adrian Frischauf, you work as a project engineer at Roche. What exactly can we imagine that to mean and which concrete tasks are associated with it?
Good question, since my job description is quite extensive. Basically, I am the one who always keeps an eye on the entire process, from requirements analysis to project management, technical project management, implementation and software development. I look at the individual processes and framework processes from the helicopter perspective. This makes it easier to classify or control them. Project engineers must, therefore, think process-oriented. All in all, this goes beyond pure software development. In short: I do not only develop software, but also the software concept.
But Roche is a healthcare company. How does software development fit in?
Most people see us first and foremost as a manufacturer of medicines and thus place us directly in the pharmaceutical sector. Which is true, but we're not just "pill pressers". We also research, develop and produce in the diagnostics sector. Theoretically, our department belong in this business area - "theoretically" because we work as a service provider for the entire Group. This means that we have customers from both the Pharma and Diagnostics divisions.
Do you also program things that relate to the patients?
Currently, I am working very closely with Research and Development, but basically many production facilities are involved in the manufacture of medical or pharmaceutical products. Of course, you need technical informatics in the background. My department provides what our global IT doesn’t provide because it is very product-oriented. We provide on-site support with software and IT solutions. Thus the influence of my work is indirectly relevant for the patient via the manufacturing processes.
So digitization is also becoming increasingly important at Roche?
Right. The Internet of Things, or Industry 4.0, is a topic that really drives us. A plant needs many sensors to run smoothly. It will permanently monitored by various sensors and camera systems that monitor the production process. There's a lot of data accumulate everywhere, which can be collected, made available and evaluated by one software in order to detect effects on product quality. Relationships in the data are the topics I'm very interested in.
Which project are you currently focusing on?
This is currently a research and development project involving the development of a new product. There are naturally many different influencing factors: A new device needs to be developed, along with the test and the selection of consumables. Furthermore, the interaction between these many individual components must be taken into account. You see, there are many aspects that come together later to show the customers the final value on their device. Currently I am support my colleagues during the whole research and development process with a good data handling.
What makes working at Roche interesting for you?
The job is extremely diversified and you have to deal with a lot of people from different departments. From laboratory technicians and plant engineers to mathematicians who take care of models and machine learning. The aim of all of them is to gain information on the basis of this data in order to make decisions and derive the next steps. I find this data-driven decision-making in research and development totally exciting. Above all, because it enables us to further increase and improve efficiency.
In the past, could you have imagined working for Roche?
Not necessarily. During my studies, I was already involved in research and development of artificial intelligence as a software developer at the German Research Institute. Than I went to a consulting firm. But then I came across Roche and found out that there are very exciting topics here, especially in the field of software development. I then moved to Roche.
Continuing education and training is an important topic, especially in your area. Is this promoted by Roche?
Continuing education and training is a very strong topic in my department and at Roche in general. We are trying to exchange knowledge. For example, if there are technological innovations, these are reviewed and discussed in internal specialist groups. There are also internal groups that meet regularly to exchange information about developments. But also personal training has a very strong focus. Not only the technical area is promoted, but also personality, leadership or teamwork.
To the keyword team - does one have the feeling at Roche to be important and not just one of many? Is there the much-cited team spirit?
Of course, there are hierarchies in such a large company as Roche. However, cooperation in projects often works independently of Hierarchies. Project teams can usually decide for themselves what to do in order to achieve the project goal.
So, does that mean that you have a lot of freedom of decision within the framework of the guidelines to be observed and can act autonomously in your area?
That is definitely the case. You have to observe the regulatory requirements, but in your own area you are very free and can take creative action. Suggestions and ideas are always welcome, especially when you notice that something is not running so smoothly and needs to be optimized.
What does a software developer have to have in order to enjoy working for Roche?
Above all, you should have a genuine interest in people and be able to communicate and work in a team. A certain curiosity to approach people is also part of it.
How important is work-life balance for you?
This is very important to me. But I also feel that it is very important to the Group and is actively promoted. For example, we have countless company sports groups, a health centre in which sports can be practised, a medical centre for service, which can be visited at any time during working hours, flexible
Working hours and much more. In my spare time I like to read technical books and I enjoy it. This blurs work and personal interest. Of course Roche provides training and further education that is important and relevant for the job.
Roche is a global group with many locations. Do you also work across sites in your area?
Partly yes. Although we are a local service provider, we also have cooperations across the site. For example, next month I'm going to Penzberg (near Munich). Penzberg is another Roche site in Germany and we have cooperations with IT departments. In this meeting we exchange ideas about synergies between IT systems and try to establish global strategies. Colleagues from the USA, Spain and Poland are also present. It is a broad and global field. The network is fundamentally important for the Group and always exciting for us, which IT systems other locations use.
If you had to describe Roche in three words, what would they be?
Three words are not many. But I'll give it a try: cross-border, innovative and people-oriented.