September 2020

Staff Spotlight: Meet Emma Ewins

We catch up with Emma Ewins, NSF's Director of Pharmaceutical Services, in a virtual interview.

Tell us a bit about your background before joining NSF.

Emma Ewins MRSB

I started in the pharma industry straight from school when I was 18 through a year-in-industry scheme, joining Lonza. I worked in the QA department and really enjoyed it. I ended up working at Lonza for three years which gave me good insight into the organization and a real passion for the industry.

I then decided to step out and go to university at 21 to do a biochemistry with biotechnology degree so was thankful for the scheme. I was viewed as a "mature" student at only 21, which was odd!

What did you do after university?

After university I got a job at UCB in Slough in an outsourced manufacturing role. I looked after the supply chain from raw material through to the finished product. Over the next eight years, I held other manufacturing roles in both Lonza and UCB before moving to BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals in 2009 where I worked in the chemistry, manufacturing and controls department covering outsourced manufacturing for multiple dosage forms.

As I progressed in BTG, I managed a process development team and moved to the BTG Wales site. I then progressed to director of manufacturing and into a site director role. Leading a manufacturing site was a really good experience. I was at BTG for almost 11 years in distinct roles, and it was really good to be involved directly on the manufacturing side.

The same boss who asked me to move to Wales then asked, “Why don’t you do your Qualified Person training with NSF?” I started the journey to become a QP in 2011 and I finished the training in 2018; it was a prolonged period as I had a son in between. So that was my introduction to NSF!

I was very grateful for all my opportunities at BTG, my last role being VP of quality and technical services for the spec-pharma business.

Do you have any career highlights?

My career highlight was the site director role. This was a big opportunity for me, going from a direct operational role in a technical commercial setting, getting batches out the door, to moving into a people-person role. In this role I had to do a lot of coaching, listening, constantly having my door open and I did a lot around engagement – it was a very different “me” and a real highlight.

One thing I’m quite passionate about is getting young people into STEM subjects. In this role I did a lot around STEM which is something I’d like to bring to NSF; I went out into the community and schools and did talks. I also started off an apprenticeship scheme and one of the things that drew me to NSF was the education element, the coaching and engagement side of things.

Are there any challenges you’ve had to overcome?

Being in an operational role you have many daily challenges coming from every angle, such as adverse inspection findings, processing and equipment issues, and people issues. Going into a role at NSF where I can use these experiences to help other organizations will be very rewarding.

What made you want to work for NSF?

I’d done all my QP modules with NSF and I’ve always being particularly impressed with the delivery of training and found the experience enjoyable. I’m the sort of person who likes variation, and this role allows me to see the industry in a different light moving into consultancy and training. I’m really looking forward to meeting new people and expanding my network.

What are you focusing on at NSF?

I think it’s going to continue to innovate. We’re going to see new therapies and new technologies come through. Obviously, we’re seeing an increase in AI and automation, and it’s important for NSF to keep ahead of the trends, so we can help clients as the industry innovates.

We’re going to also see younger generations come through, linking back to my interest and passion for STEM, and people are going to want different levels of work-life balance, different ways of working and how people want to learn may change. I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how we adapt training and consultancy. We’re seeing it now with COVID-19 with the move to virtual and remote services.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Most of my time evolves around my seven-year-old son. I dedicate my weekends to my family as I don’t see them much through the week. Although I wouldn’t claim to be the best chef, I do enjoy cooking and having family time around the table.

I’m based on the Cardigan Coast, near New Quay, in Wales and it’s beautiful to get out and enjoy the fresh air on coastal walks and the stunning beaches.