Meet our Stability Lead

Derek Grubb joined the Q1 Scientific team back in 2016 as a part time driver, transporting samples back to customers. Since then, Derek has progressed through the company and was recently promoted to Stability Lead. Derek now manages our sample set-downs and returns while working closely with our quality team to ensure compliance with internal procedures and regulatory guidelines.

Here Derek tells us more about his role in Q1 Scientific.

Can you tell us more about your background and how you came to work at Q1 Scientific?

Up until the economic crash in 2010 I was working as a Carpenter. Little did I know then that delivering customer samples on a part-time basis would eventually lead to me becoming a full-time Stability Lead at Q1 Scientific. If you had said to me back in 2016 that this is what I would be doing in 2021 I would have said ‘no that’s not for me’. I always said that I couldn’t see myself working in an office and would prefer to be out working on a construction site. Looking back though I am glad that I took a chance, and I am still here!

As the team and our customer base grew my role at Q1 Scientific changed. Initially it was 3 days a week delivering samples which quickly became 5 days a week providing operations support on sample set-downs and pulls.

Moving into the pharmaceutical industry was a complete career change for me. As a Carpenter, SOPs and documentation were the notes pencilled on a piece of timber with a hammer in the other hand! Q1 Scientific was a whole new environment and I had to get used to following strict SOPs and completing documentation. As I joined from an entirely different sector to work in a GMP environment I have undertaken part-time studies to improve my computer skills and progress my career. My transition from a trade to the pharmaceutical industry proves that it is possible if you’re a quick learner and willing to work hard. I saw it as a challenge to overcome.

This environment has become my new normal and I now manage equipment calibrations in addition to sample set-downs and pulls. Across the year we run around 400 equipment calibration checks at Q1 Scientific. The days just fly by and I enjoy working here.

How has the company changed since you joined?

For a start it’s bigger and busier! Not just in terms of the number of customers but also in terms of staff numbers and our physical stability storage space.

Around 7 of the 20 world’s largest pharmaceutical companies now store their samples with Q1 Scientific. The business has really escalated since I joined the company and it’s great to see the growth.

What is the question that you are most asked by our customers?

“Can I change the date my samples are returned or do an unscheduled pull?”

The answer to this is yes! We will always accommodate customer requests to change their sample return date. Customers can just contact myself or another member of the operations team to make this happen.

Customers also ask:

“Can you provide a temperature reading during transport?”

Also, yes! Q1 Scientific offer temperature-controlled transport from chilled to ambient transport, and even -80oC shipments. We can provide a number of transport solutions to meet customer requirements.

An independent monitoring datalogger is available within our transport units to record the temperature for the duration of a journey. After a delivery/collection we download the data from this unit and provide the customer with a report.

What does a typical day look like for you as a Stability Lead at Q1 Scientific?

As a Stability Lead no two days are the same. On the odd occasion that you think you may have a quiet day there will always be something that will pop up.

Every day at work is different depending on if we have any sample pulls, set downs, quality paperwork or calibration checks to be completed. I set down and pull samples for a wide variety of pharmaceutical, medical device and food science clients who all have different temperature and humidity storage requirements.

Q1 Scientific have a custom Electronic Sample Tracking System, known as ESTS, to manage stability samples. Through scanning bar codes, I manage all client studies, sample set downs / returns and track the location of samples. We’re always trying to work a week in advance to manage the return of samples to customers. By looking at the week ahead we can map all our returns and organise temperature-controlled transportation.

We recently introduced an Electronic Equipment Management System. This automates and simplifies our equipment management and calibration checks. There are workflows to manage documents and processes along with eSignatures, audit trails and dashboards.

All my work follows strict SOPs alongside quality paperwork for audits.

What is the best thing about being part of the Q1 Scientific team?

For one it’s the staff and how well everyone gets along. This makes it a nice place to work.

The job itself is good too and the time just flies by!