People of Synthace: Emilie Fritsch, PhD – Senior Product Specialist
After joining us in March 2019, Emilie has seen her role change from Biological Scientist to Field Application Scientist and more recently to Senior Product Specialist.
The vision that we have – helping people to automate their science faster and giving them easier access to automation – is one of the main reasons why I joined.Emilie Fritsch, PhD Senior Product Specialist
What is your role?
I’m a Senior Product Specialist, so my role is technical but from a post-sales point of view. My role is to acquire an in-depth understanding of our products so that I can transfer that knowledge to the Customer Success team. I interact and work very closely with all the teams at Synthace during the development phase of a new product.
I also spend time testing the protocols in the lab on the liquid handlers and helping to ensure everything is working properly before our Field Application Scientists deploy Antha to customers. I’m also here to help at the technical level if customers have any questions about the biological processes that they want to automate.
Where were you before joining?
I was working for the biotechnology group of a chemical producing company called Invista in Wilton - close to Middlesbrough, in the north of the UK.
Why did you want to join Synthace?
In my previous role, I was in charge of developing an automation platform that we would be using for strain engineering and new strain characterization. It took me a year to develop everything and set up the platform. Then, in July 2018, the vision of the company changed and automation wasn’t needed as much.
I started looking at other options, and I saw the opening for a Biological Scientist at Synthace. It fitted nicely with what I had done previously and added the software aspect that I hadn’t really known about before.
Think about the expectations you had before you joined. Is life and work at Synthace in line with how you thought it would be?
Life at Synthace is in line with what I expected from the feeling I got when visiting the office and meeting everyone.
From a job point of view my role has shifted quite a bit, as shortly after joining as a Biological Scientist I moved across to the Customer Success team as a Field Application Scientist. More recently, I became Senior Product Specialist.
Were there any concerns you had before joining that were either realized, or that turned out to be unwarranted?
I didn’t have too many concerns. Coming from a bigger group I was a little worried about joining a start-up, and I wanted to make sure the funding was there and the company wouldn’t collapse.
I’ve been reassured through the messaging and communications in general; you see that there is a plan. That doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong, but at least everything has been thought out.
The company grew really quickly after I joined, and you could quickly see the potential of the company's growth as we brought in more people.
Would you say that you can clearly see how your work has an impact? What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Yes, I can clearly see how my work has an impact and there’s tonnes of rewarding parts! There’s probably not one thing, it’s more an accumulation of lots of different things.
Because I’m quite technical, I feel great when I spend some time generating a workflow and then things run smoothly in the lab. Or a customer telling me “you solved my problem, thanks a lot!” is really nice too.
What do you enjoy most about #SynthaceLife
(outside of your actual job)?
The multidisciplinary team. It’s great being able to talk to people from so many different backgrounds and who are super knowledgeable about so many different things. And I don’t mean that just in terms of people who are good at their jobs; we have people who are just brilliant in other ways, such as playing instruments, drawing and painting, and people who are playing sports at near professional levels!
I find it both very humbling and also motivating to be surrounded by such amazing people.
How would you describe the people and culture at Synthace?
People are very bright and happy to share knowledge rather than keeping it to themselves. Everyone is happy to take time to explain things if you don’t know something – there are no silly questions.
I feel that I’ve now reached the point where people feel they can also do that with me, which is a good feeling.
What are you most proud of when thinking about Synthace as a company and/or group of colleagues?
There are different aspects. Obviously, the vision that we have – helping people to automate their science faster and giving them easier access to automation – is one of the main reasons why I joined. Especially, since I have been on the other side where you have to develop everything yourself and you become the expert, which can work until you need to share that knowledge and realize how time-consuming and painful it can be.
Overall it’s about the multidisciplinary, friendly group of people. It’s something the company should be proud of.
How do you think working here is different to other companies?
The structure of the company. Having worked in environments where there are bigger groups that are structured quite rigidly, I can compare that with Synthace and how we’re a lot more flexible in how we work.
Your role sort of evolves as things evolve within the company. This can be a bit unsettling at the beginning but can also give you the opportunity to explore something that you really enjoy.
We’ve seen people who have moved around to different teams within the company, and it means that you won’t ever get bored.
What do you think are the biggest opportunities or challenges for us at the moment (personally, in your team, and/or company-wide)? And how do you feel we are addressing these?
The obvious one at the moment is COVID-19; the lab had to be shut down for some time, which delayed some of our work. Another challenge is making sure that teams are communicating well to continue sharing knowledge and get things done.
The quarterly meetings helped, and Tim (our CEO) has communicated things well during the weekly all-hands meetings. It may actually be that we’ve communicated things even better since COVID-19 than we had before because we can’t rely on conversations in the office – everything has to be made much more explicit.
What advice would you give to someone if they were looking to apply to your team? What traits and/or skills are important?
It’s most important in our team to have a breadth of technical knowledge and to be able to learn quickly.
Being proactive and asking questions is also important. People want to share knowledge, and to some degree there will always be someone to help you, but you also need to be quite autonomous and able to learn on your own.
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