People of Synthace: Matthew Gregg – Team Lead (Miniaturized Purification)
After a successful career in fintech, Matt joined the biotech world in January 2018 as one of Synthace’s software developers. Currently, Matt is Team Lead of the Miniaturized Purification team. Working closely with our lab scientists, Matt is helping us improve the Antha software and bring our vision of flexible lab automation closer to life.
I’m proud of the enthusiasm and ethical stance that Synthace has taken. It’s not just a market opportunity – it’s something that people really believe in as being interesting and transformative, and really of benefit to the biological community.”Matthew Gregg Team Lead - Miniaturized Purification
What is your role at Synthace?
I work on the computational code behind Synthace’s Antha platform, translating what biologists want to do in the lab into something that looks like code that can be run on lab machines to automate biological assays. Essentially, we’re taking lab processes and codifying them so you don’t have to.
Where were you before joining Synthace?
I’d just come back to the UK after working for a fintech company in Toronto Canada, writing software for looking at market risk calculations.
Why did you want to join Synthace?
When I got back to London, I first came across Synthace at a careers evening. Lots of companies got up and did their pitch, but Synthace really stood out as doing something unusual, with meaningful outcomes and interesting technical problems.
Think about the expectations you had before you joined. Is life and work at Synthace in line with how you thought it would be?
The company has changed a lot from when I first joined – when it was much smaller – which is what I’d expect from a start-up in its position. I’m pleased with where we are and how we’ve developed.
The actual work that we do, the values that we have, and the direction that we’re moving to were all a part of what sold it to me, and we’ve held on to all of the same enthusiasm for our ethical mission as we’ve grown.
Do you agree that your work has an impact?
Strongly agree. Because of the nature of the company and the way the product is pushing forward all the time, the work you do has an immediate impact.
Do you feel supported, valued and heard - both in your day to day role, and also in general as part of the wider company?
Yes, the company is pretty good at providing lots of channels to either discuss ideas or raise concerns, including weekly line manager catch-ups, the management within my immediate team, and support from the People Operations team.
If there are any problems at all, there are multiple places that I can go to depending on what they are. Because of the flat nature of the company, it’s pretty easy to get responses, and there are a lot of open forums for asking questions as well.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s probably the close customer feedback: the fact that you can be working on a project, getting new features built, and you’re very quickly getting feedback from customers using Antha in the field. It’s great knowing that what you’re doing is getting used, rather than working on projects for projects’ sake.
What do you enjoy most about life at Synthace (outside of your actual job)?
Working with some of the most technically able people I’ve ever worked with across my career. The people, the team – everyone is really friendly and supportive, making it a great working environment.
Which activities/events have you enjoyed or found useful?
I enjoy the company lunches and games nights*. I enjoy games anyway, and it’s really nice to be able to socialize with people you work with directly or indirectly; it means that relationships aren’t purely technical, which takes any potential pressure off and makes it more enjoyable to work with them day to day.
The lunch and learn sessions, such as the Biology 101, are also useful. You get to see what other people are working on and have an insight into how Synthace’s work is used – how biologists think and work.
*Synthace's events have become virtual during the pandemic.
What are you most proud of when thinking about Synthace as a company and/or group of colleagues?
The enthusiasm and ethical stance that Synthace has taken. It’s not just a market opportunity or a way to make money by filling a gap in the market – it’s something that people really believe in as being interesting and transformative, and really of benefit to the biological community.
How do you think working here is different to other companies?
Contrasting Synthace with other places I’ve worked before, the big thing I notice is the integration of the Software team with the subject matter experts – we’re mixed in with biologists and we work together.
When I’ve worked in financial services before, there’s been much more of a division between the Software team and the financial experts.
Also, the closeness to the clients and getting that instant feedback is great. Previously in some of the bigger companies I’ve worked for there has been a long chain between work being done and somebody actually using it at the other end.
How would you describe the people and culture at Synthace?
It’s a very positive culture and very enabling in lots of ways. If there’s something that you want to do or think could be done, there’s always lots of people to approach to raise these ideas. The flat structure means that anyone can be approached.
Curiosity and innovation are also a big part of the culture. We know what we’re working on is a novel solution and novel area, and there’s a lot of open thinking on how we do things, which is refreshing. It’s not a sort of cookie cutter implementation approach – there’s a lot of freedom to come up with new ideas.
What would you say to anyone considering joining Synthace and how likely are you to recommend it?
Don’t worry if you don’t have a biological background. Also, it’s definitely worth talking to us to learn about the different fields we’re working in. We have a variety of areas that you may not be aware of and you could work on, such as cloud-based framework, React web UI, data workflows, etc.
What advice would you give to someone if they were looking to apply to your team? What traits and/or skills are important?
Technically I’d say not to worry about language specifics, as long as you know algorithm basics.
Be prepared to think on your feet – we don’t look for you to be able to necessarily memorize things, as it’s more important for you to think on your feet, communicate what you’re thinking, and get to grips with novel situations or problems without having to be led through them.
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