It is easy to associate a career in the life sciences with just doctors and scientists, but there are other roles in the sector that keep the wheels of the industry turning.

Three employees of Edwards Lifesciences Singapore (EW Singapore) share the different ways their roles have enabled them to have meaningful careers impacting lives in more ways than one.

The Singapore plant of the global medical device maker employs over 2,000 staff and celebrates its 14th anniversary this year.

Work-life integration

For Ms Josephine Leong, 44, becoming a part of EW Singapore meant more opportunities to make a positive impact on the people around her. She joined the company 10 years ago as an associate heart valve specialist. She used small hand tools like needles, scissors and forceps to hand-stitch artificial valves.

Today, she is a technical training coordinator involved in recruitment and job screening activities for associate heart valve specialists. She also actively participates in the  company’s wellness and outreach events and helps out in these activities as a  videographer-cum-photographer.

She is involved in work that not only benefits the patients, but also EW Singapore’s  employees and beneficiaries. The company’s beneficiaries include the Singapore Heart Foundation and Special Olympics Singapore. She also helps organise staff engagement events such as walks at Gardens by the Bay and Botanic Gardens.

“Everything we do, no matter how small, can and will have an impact on people around us,” she says.

Ms Leong, a stay-at-home mother for 12 years before rejoining the workforce through EW Singapore, had no prior background in life sciences. She has recently completed her further studies with the company’s sponsorship and she will receive her Specialist Diploma in Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Engineering in May.

Quality compliance

For a company that manufactures medical devices such as artificial heart valves to address cardiovascular disease, it is important to ensure that the products are of the highest quality.

Senior quality supervisor Cheng Wan Choon, 39, has been with EW Singapore for about five years. He leads a team of inspectors and works closely with other departments to ensure that quality requirements and standards are adhered to throughout the manufacturing process.

A meeting with a patient who had a replacement heart valve made in the Singapore facility left a deep impression on him.

“There were tears from both the patient and EW Singapore’s employees when he thanked us,”

Mr Cheng says. “EW Singapore doesn’t just manufacture a product, it’s a meaningful product that helps patients.”

Making a difference

Mr Leo Nard Tio, 29, switched jobs three years ago in the hope of utilising his skills as a mechanical engineer to make a difference in the life sciences industry. He is now a senior engineer with EW Singapore, involved in developing innovative solutions to improve efficiencies of the manufacturing process.

“Being in product and process engineering (for heart valve manufacturing) is meaningful because it allows new technologies and therapies to reach our patients and impact their lives,” he says.

Mr Tio has travelled to the company’s global headquarters in California, United States to take part in a technology transfer project. The project to transfer new knowledge, skills and methodologies involved in the production cycle from the US headquarters to the Singapore facility is crucial to meeting the future growth and challenges in valve manufacturing.

Says Mr Tio: “EW Singapore gave me experiences that make me a better engineer. It  means innovating, pushing boundaries and being creative while always putting patients first.”

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