Student of the Year 2016 – Episode #2 – Valéries journey

Vanessa: It’s now been 6 weeks since you started your traineeship at Vifor Pharma. How is it going?

Valérie: It’s going very well. I’m working extensively on the definition and implementation of the KPI’s, as it was planned few weeks ago. However, in the meantime, a lot of questions and issues popped up which needed clarifications (tasks, responsibilities and divergent points of views from the different stakeholders). Nevertheless, thanks to some intensive brainstorming sessions, we came up with several solutions and new ideas and started working on the first steps of the project implementation.

Vanessa: When we spoke together some weeks ago, you told me about your mission which includes the implementation of a future system of performances control in the manufacturing and packaging areas. How far did you come by now?

Valérie: I have been regularly in contact with the heads and supervisors of the production area. We had a lot of exchanges and discussions about the different topics concerning the KPI’s which helped me clearly understand their needs and expectations. On the practical side, I needed to coordinate with various people and departments, such as IT, Maintenance and Production. For example, we have the idea to equip the supervisors with iPads which they can easily carry around within the production area in order to collect and record the daily data directly. As a result, they can work more efficiently by being able to spend more time on the field managing their teams and by being able to share, calculate and display the data more easily and more rapidly.

Vanessa: You are now in the middle of your three-month-traineeship. What remains on your to-do list for the lasting 6 weeks?

Valérie: Well, of course there are a lot of daily tasks that need to be completed and finalised before the end of my traineeship, but apart from that I will have the great chance to travel around Switzerland and visit the other sites of Vifor Pharma in Geneva, Ettingen and the Headquarters in Zürich. I appreciate the opportunity to meet and discuss with as many people within the company as possible, as my goal is also to improve my knowledge of the departments I have not been introduced to yet. In particular, I would like to learn more about the daily duties of a product and marketing manager, as I could potentially see myself pursuing such a career; I actually will have the possibility to get a practical hint if that kind of job is something I would enjoy doing on an everyday basis. I have been asked, together with the other interns and apprentices here in Villars-sur-Glâne, to redesign the glass displays that advertise and promote all the medical products manufactured by Vifor Pharma to the visiting guests and customers. This task is quite challenging because of the big range of products and coordinating the ideas of all people involved requires good teamwork skills.

Vanessa: The last time we spoke about the challenges you were expecting, concretely the communication with lots of different stakeholders as well as overcoming resistance. How did you experience those kind of topics until now?

Valérie: Due to the complexity of the topic, the biggest challenge so far has been to get everyone from the management level aligned on what needs to be done, how and who is responsible for doing each task. Besides that, I took some time to follow and discuss directly with the operators who are working on the production lines. My goal was not only to get to know their daily work better, but also to test the water as to whether or not they were aware and receptive to the changes and ameliorations the management team started implementing. As expected, they had heard about the project and were particularly enthusiastic about the idea of knowing more about it, for example by means of a special informative and coaching session. I am convinced that this is the right way to go and that it is crucial to involve every concerned collaborator in the new project.

Vanessa: Thank you Valérie for answering my questions today and for sharing with us your experience and thoughts about your time as a “Student of the Year” trainee. We stay curious about your future professional adventures at Vifor Pharma and we look forward to hearing from you again at the end of your traineeship!


Author: Vanessa Friedrich