View of young woman wearing safety goggles and lab coat with Takeda logo on it sitting beside a large window.
Sarah Gallagher. Image: Takeda

What is a self-directed work team and what does it do?

1 Jul 2019

Sarah Gallagher has only just started working with Takeda, but she has already been converted to the benefits of self-directed work teams.

Have you ever heard of a self-directed work team? It’s a new concept for Takeda’s Sarah Gallagher, too – she has only been with the company for a month.

Here, she explains the particular benefits of this kind of team organisation and how this model has helped her further hone her life sciences skills as a quality control (QC) analyst in microbiology.

What is your role within Takeda?

I am less than a month with Takeda Dunboyne Biologics and my role will be to work in the QC microbiology lab. As part of this team, I will perform quality control testing to ensure the product is fit for purpose and carry out environmental monitoring sampling on various areas of the facility.

I was really drawn to this role because I believe that working in a new facility is a fantastic and unique opportunity. It’s very rare that you get the chance to be part of this type of new, state-of-the-art facility within this industry and make a substantial impact on its development and growth.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

There is an Agile team design in Takeda Dunboyne Biologics. Everyone is part of a self-directed work team (SDWT) so my day typically starts off with a meeting at our tier board with the SDWT, and this is where we discuss and agree what the actions are for the day.

As I’m quite new, carrying out any required action is a very effective way for me to learn in real time. I find that each day is a day for learning as I am getting up to speed with projects that I will be responsible for. Another part of my day is making sure that I’m keeping on top of my online and offline personal training and development requirements.

What types of project do you work on? 

The major task is to get the micro lab up and running, which is quite hands-on. I’m really looking forward to immersing myself with the projects in the lab because I have never gotten the opportunity to work in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility.

When I saw the lab for the first time, I immediately noticed the impressive windows which flood the lab with natural light and look out on to the rolling countryside – this is unlike any other labs I have experienced.

One important activity that I am currently working on is gaining an understanding of the software that will be used for recording results, as this will be imperative to the paperless vision we have for the site.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

Communication and teamwork are central to how we operate here, and I have found that this is a work environment that both promotes and thrives on people engaging and sharing knowledge with each other.

Additionally, good organisation skills are vital because, as this is a new facility, many actions are required and I need to coordinate activities with others to ensure the tasks get done in a timely and efficient fashion.

I feel that due to the nature of the role, I also use technical skills daily and this allows me to bring in the experience I have gained from working in industry.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

The hardest part for me would be getting accustomed to how things are done in Takeda Dunboyne Biologics. However, the learning curve was not steep as they already had the necessary educational and teaching processes in place to ensure that I was brought up to speed.

It can be challenging in the right way, but I know it will be worth it in the end. It’s an environment that pushes you out of your comfort zone, but this is what allows me to grow and develop.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

In keeping with the paperless vision for the site, I have found that the OneNote application has been useful and it’s super-versatile. It has made me more productive in terms of note-taking as it’s handy for formatting notes and archiving them for a later date. Usually with traditional paper notebooks I would be trawling through pages of scrawled writing for ages.

I also use it for making lists, which are quite invaluable for me as they make the workload less daunting and it’s quite satisfying to be able to tick off tasks as they are completed.

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