Student of the Year 2016 – Episode #1 – Welcome Valérie!

Beginning of January, Valérie Boujon, the winner of our Science Student of the Year Challenge 2016, started her 3-months internship at our Vifor Pharma location in Villars-sur-Glâne. Vanessa, HR Business Partner on the site, interviewed Valérie on the start of her internship.

Vanessa: How was your experience of the onboarding and welcome phase at Vifor Pharma?

Valérie: It was great, as I directly started with a training session that gave me the chance, right from the beginning, to be involved with the topic I will be working on for the upcoming three months of my traineeship. In the beginning, I was confronted with a lot of technical jargon that comes with being part of the industry, but everyone has been very nice and patient in explaining me the things I need to know. I experienced a very flat hierarchy and my supervisor is eager to share his depth of expertise with me, and to make sure I am integrated well, he organized an introduction plan for me – this gives me the opportunity to get to know the people I’ll be working with more closely through a series  of one-to-one interviews.

Vanessa: What will be your mission during your traineeship?

Valérie: My mission will be to help with the implementation of a future system of performances control in the manufacturing and packaging areas, that will hopefully boost the productiveness and competitiveness of the site of Villars-sur-Glâne. Briefly, this consists in defining precise KPI’s that continuously give an indication on the performances and in setting daily animated reunions to control, evaluate and improve the planning process.

Vanessa: You have been chosen “Student of the Year”. Which of your competencies will you be able to use in order to fulfill this mission?

Valérie: I am very humbled by my mission and I am eager to bring my ideas to life. I believe in integrating information from various channels to find the best solutions and not being tied to the “old ways”, and I am happy that Vifor Pharma has similar views. This is something I experienced a lot during my PhD , where I found that my goal was not always a straight line from A to B. As the Buddhist proverb goes, sometimes to go right, you have to turn left. Moreover, the scientific rigorousness and knowledge I acquired throughout my studies proved to be very helpful in acclimatizing into the world of the pharmaceutical industry and getting to rapidly comprehend novel concepts.

Vanessa: You will work during three months in the production department of the largest production site of Vifor Pharma which is based in Villars-sur-Glâne. What are your expectations and where do you see the biggest challenge?

Valérie: The application of the new performances control strategy, in order to assure more efficient manufacturing and packaging capabilities and thus, to improve the delivering delays and customer satisfaction, will need a lot of coordination and communication between  all the people involved. For example, I will need to explain to the factory operators why those changes will be necessary and I also expect a certain amount of resistance. Besides, three months is a short time and I will need to invest a lot of time to discuss with the involved parties, and to find the best solutions to turn the theory into practice on an everyday basis. At the same time, it is important to keep the momentum going, in order to make sure the people working with the reconfigured KPI’s routines will appreciate the new system and continue working with it even after the end of my traineeship.


Author: Vanessa Friedrich

Photographer: Jean-Baptiste Morel