Mr Gabin Wu was overjoyed to learn that an acquaintance’s mother survived the early stage of cancer thanks to a drug his company produced.
Mr Wu, a QC supervisor (microbiology) at Roche Singapore Technical Operations, was at a cocktail party in New York, when, “after the customary introductions about my job and where I work, I was surprised to later find out during the conversation that the mother of my new friend had survived early stage breast cancer after treatment with Herceptin, a drug that we produce in Singapore”.
That chance encounter convinced Mr Wu, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Microbiology) from the University of Melbourne in 2007, that he made the right choice to pursue a career in the biopharmaceutical industry.
Currently two years into his job, Mr Wu manages the microbiology laboratory that supports quality control microbiological testing of biopharmaceutical products in the Singapore E.coli and mammalian cell culture facilities.
Working alongside a team of laboratory analysts under his charge, Mr Wu says: “We ensure the products we supply to our patients are safe and effective and of the highest quality.”
The work of Mr Wu and his colleagues has made an impact beyond the shores of Singapore.
“Our facility in Singapore manufactures the active drug substance that is shipped to the United States for formulation into the final drug product and (it is) distributed to several countries across the globe. Our little red dot is growing ever brighter on the world map,” says Mr Wu.
Besides working on life-saving drugs, Mr Wu’s job scope also includes creating a work environment that is “challenging yet enjoyable” for his colleagues.
“As a management team, we at Roche place a strong emphasis on the continued development of our employees’ careers. So, providing opportunities for employees to take on additional responsibilities such as leading project teams and participating in global initiatives is always at the back of my mind,” he says.
“However, balancing the additional tasks with present workload demand is never easy — ‘balance’ is such a simple word but finding it isn’t nearly as simple.”
With his love for science, it was natural that Mr Wu embarked on this career path. He was especially interested in microbiology, even during his school days. He describes joining the biopharmaceutical industry as “an opportunity to contribute to the health and well-being of patients in need of quality medicines”.
He derives job satisfaction when he hears stories of patients whose lives improved after taking medicines that he and his colleagues helped make.
He says a continued interest in life-long learning has helped him carry out his duties well.
But it’s not a case of all work and no play. Mr Wu believes in the need for a work-life balance. “I enjoy cooking and entertaining at home, away from the hustle and bustle of public restaurants and bars,” adds Mr Wu, who is also an avid traveller.
“I’m one of those Singaporeans who have been bitten by the travel bug. If I’m not on a plane then I’ll most definitely be on a ferry or bus on weekends. The world is such a fascinating place and there’s still so much left to see!”
And to those who may want to pursue a career in the biopharmaceutical industry, Mr Wu says the industry has grown immensely over the last decade with support from the Singapore Economic Development Board.
“The capabilities and talent in our nation’s workforce will continue to grow over the coming years. The biopharmaceutical industry in Singapore is well-positioned to be among the world’s leading industries in the near future,” he says.
And true to his conviction that one should never stop learning, Mr Wu advises prospective job seekers: “There’s something new to be discovered everywhere you look, something that someone knows better and is always willing to share. Keep an open mind, a humble heart and the conversation flowing!”