Matthias L. tells us about his work as a Quality Manager at EUROIMMUN.
Please introduce yourself and tell us how you came to EUROIMMUN!
I am Matthias and have been working in quality management at EUROIMMUN for two years. Previously I worked in this area at another company. As my contract was temporary, I checked out job boards such as Jobvector. I found the job advertisement at EUROIMMUN and applied.
What happened next?
I received an invitation to an interview relatively quickly. I had a good feeling not only about the content of the job, but also the way I was treated as an applicant was positive. When I got the offer from EUROIMMUN I did not take long to reach my decision.
What are the typical tasks in quality management at EUROIMMUN?
An important task is the production and maintenance of documents. These include procedure instructions, which define the typical course of processes, inspection instructions for our products, regulation of responsibilities, etc. To some people this may sound more boring than it actually is – or at least can be! There are so many different processes and documents and you are always working with different colleagues so the work is very diverse.
Furthermore, we also perform internal audits. This means we inspect our scientific departments according to a precise plan, e.g. whether defined work processes or hygiene regulations are being adhered to. Although the word inspection sounds very much like control. We rather look together for possibilities for improvement.
A further focus of our tasks is the registration of our products abroad, which falls into the area of Regulatory Affairs. Lots of data, which is available as part of QM, is needed for registrations with various authorities all over the world. We work very closely with colleagues in the respective subsidiary or with the distributor. Together we clarify questions: Which products are planned for this market? What information does the authority need in order to better judge the product? This varies considerably in different countries.
What happens once a product is registered?
Generally there are no further stipulations once the product is registered. However, our responsibility as manufacturer does not stop there. When product changes are made, we have to ensure that the product still meets the original registration requirements.
Do products sometimes have to be adapted so that they can be registered in a particular market?
It’s funny that you ask that. I have just come from a meeting about exactly this issue.
It depends on the country – some are more critical than others. Before we change a product, we try to clarify together with the authorities if the adaptation is really necessary.
What are the particular challenges for you?
The registration procedures are becoming ever more complex and time-consuming. Not just each authority, but also each examiner is different. You have to adapt to this. For each country there is a certain scheme, e.g. what information is basically necessary for the registration, but the rest of the process can proceed very individually.
What qualities should you have for the job?
The most important thing in my opinion is to enjoy communicating with others and to engage with your counterparts. You should also have the ability to scrutinise yourself, e.g. Am I expressing myself in an understandable way? Is it clear what I need? Is what I am asking for realistic? Does it fulfil the purpose? Otherwise it leads to misunderstandings and delays the process unnecessarily.
Further, you should be able to work very precisely, even when you are under stress and have a lot to do. That’s the be-all and end-all of quality management.
Generally you have to be flexible. Often you do not know in the morning what your working day will look like. It depends on the e-mails that have arrived in your inbox and the questions that have surfaced. There are a lot of tendencies but no clear pattern.
And what qualifications do you need to work in quality management?
In my opinion there is no clear answer to this question. You could, for example, have a scientific degree or training in this area, or special language skills. Experience in quality management is not necessarily an advantage. It is more important to have characteristics such as open-mindedness and analytical skills as basic requirements for this work. I have a lot of acquaintances who work in QM in other companies. Some have a basic apprenticeship qualification and understand their work very well. Others struggle despite having a bachelor’s, master’s or doctor’s degree. The correct approach, experience and a suitable environment make the difference.
What qualifications do you have and how did you come to quality management?
I have a master’s in biology. After my degree I did further training in quality management for scientists. I deliberately chose this way and had to relocate for it. But at the end my conclusion was: it was the right thing to do!
What part of your job do you particularly enjoy?
The work in quality management is much more interesting than is often portrayed – a completely underestimated area. I enjoy it most when I have a question to answer and have no idea where it is leading or where I should start. I enjoy critically examining the topic and then realising that I have cracked the problem.
And what do you not enjoy?
That nothing is concrete. But as long as you can see the sense in an assignment, then nearly everything is enjoyable.
Less enjoyable is sometimes when you have a different point of view or an innovative idea and then realise that it is very difficult to implement, e.g. because there are other priorities. Staying patient in this situation is challenging. But I view it pragmatically: we all have the same goal.
What do you like about EUROIMUN as an employer?
The company is flexible and in parts combines anchored structures with an innovative approach. This is in some respects brilliant, because it is customised. The flat hierarchies have the advantage that decisions can be made quickly and easily. It is great when you can go to your supervisor and just say “So, what do you think…”.
Everyone is very committed and there is a great team atmosphere. And at the same time everyone is very professional.
Is there anything else that you like here?
A lot of very nice people work here and I have found some friends in the company. This is perhaps also an advantage of working in quality control. You get to know people from many different areas.
Working in QM is a bit like being a technician at a concert. Behind the stage you support the various camps to provide a smooth performance. During your work you make a lot of contacts and sometimes drink a beer with them after a successful project. When I was new in Luebeck, the many different leisure activities offered by the company helped me to make contacts even outside of QM. And use of the informal “du” makes it even easier. That is something very special.