What, exactly, is a program manager? It took me a few years to figure out what a program is. I work in the Environment, Health and Safety department (EHS) at my company. We make sure that the company- i.e., its employees- comply with various regulations regarding environmental protection and worker health and safety protection. Most people find it refreshing, surprising, that such a department exists. Basically, while the rest of the company cares about FDA, mainly, we care about EPA and OSHA. A program is a way to ensure that certain procedures and behaviors in the company are followed. It can be challenging, because at first glance, complying with EPA and OSHA regs seems quite far removed from the business of discovering, developing, manufacturing, and marketing pharmaceuticals to meet significant unmet medical needs. As a support function, like HR or IT, EHS relies on programs to demonstrate to regulators and, more importantly, to ensure that employees are following the company’s policies to protect the environment and their own health and safety.
Essentially, an EHS department promotes organizational change: how do I get the PhD scientist, process engineer, technician, etc. to recognize a risk, and to care enough to manage it properly?
With that in mind, here’s a look at my week. A colleague remarked a couple weeks ago that my calendar had become a game of Tetris. This week isn’t so bad.
Monday: I had my 1:1 with my direct report, K, whom I hired a year ago, about 6 months out of her science PhD. We discussed where to shoot our video. We have a VP from R&D, my group’s Director, myself, and K. We were looking for good venues: not too crowded, not too noisy, a lot of setup for a 3 minute final cut. The B-roll was shot last week. (I’ve got the lingo down!) We included interviews and demos with people in the labs who’re doing Green BioPharma. For me most important is to demonstrate that it’s out there, not just a few of us cheerleading from the sidelines, but that people are doing it, that it has institutional legs. We were also trying to figure out how to get the janitorial services at a different site do a better job of collecting used containers to be reused down in our site. A classic organizational problem: whom do we talk to, how do we get things to stick (we had already spent a lot of time setting it up, but it’s still just not working with the staff turnover). Then I set up purchase orders for 2013 for my vendors, over $3M worth, with my administrative assistant. The user interface is Byzantine (no surprise, it’s on SAP) so we did it via WebEx. Normally, we’d do it side by side in front of my computer, but WebEx was just fine. I also owed our site sustainability manager an update on the new Green BioPharma program that will become part of the Roche group-wide sustainability report, filed under “Success Stories.” And, I worked with a vendor to amend some labels that people in manufacturing use to comply with hazardous waste regulations.
The rest of the week looks like the following:
Tuesday: I have a monthly financial review with my group. Last year, we had to make sure we spent to plan. This year, we need to spend to budget. Before, we had to spend what we said we’d spend, almost as if to prove that we did what we said we’d do. This year, I can’t spend a dime over my budget. Then I have a weekly operations meeting with a group of contractors I manage, who manage our hazardous waste. And another, similar ops meeting, for our chemical inventory program. I also need to come up with talking points for the upcoming video on Thursday.
Wednesday: I have a telecon with an industry group that we lead, on Green BioPharma. Before lunch I give a monthly training on managing hazardous waste to new employees. Then I have lunch with a VP of R&D that I’d set up a while back. A career conversation, during which I hope to get answers to the following questions:
- How do you gain recognition, with integrity?
- How to choose an executive coach, and how might I argue for the company to pay for one for myself?
- Where should I go next?
I’ll be happy if we get through 2 of those questions. Finally, that afternoon, a meeting with my manager for some more scrutiny on my 2 big vendors’ spend.
Thursday: A meeting with my colleagues who directly support laboratory personnel. They’re like our first line of contacts to the 3000-4000 laboratory people on site. We have also our quarterly review of one of my vendors, involving all Roche US sites. AND Thursday is our all day shoot for the upcoming video clip on the Green BioPharma program that we plan to post on our external site and YouTube channel. I also have to sign hazardous waste manifests that day.
Friday: Quite open. Just have to finalize selecting the winning entries to a Roche-wide sustainability competition. The winner gets feted at Roche’s castle in Switzerland. Don’t ask me about the carbon offsets needed for the flight over…
Emails for the week have started up again, so the Tetris gameboard is starting to fill up!