All of us have dreams growing up. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to achieve them. Sometimes, however, the path to reaching that goal teaches us lessons which lead us to alter our course and strive for a new purpose.
The story of Min Hong, an associate at Samsung BioLogics, our biopharmaceutical affiliate, is a perfect example of this. Min found something even more meaningful at Samsung after giving up her long-time dream of becoming a doctor. We spoke to Min to hear more about her amazing journey.
How did you come to work at Samsung BioLogics?
I studied life science at undergraduate level because of my long-time dream of becoming a medical doctor. But when I couldn’t get into to the graduate school I wanted I was deeply disappointed. So I went on a trip on my own, and asked myself numerous questions. I had wanted to become a doctor since I was young, but when I kept asking myself if that was something I still wanted to do, the answer was ‘no.’
I felt pretty helpless. I thought it was a little too late to search for something that I wanted to do. Yet, I was determined to find out. For the next year and a half, I did everything I could from working as a barista at a café to working at a magazine, a cosmetics company and a pharmaceutical company.
After such diverse experiences, I came to a conclusion that I was best at doing something that related to my college major. And rather surprisingly, it was when I realized this that I saw news about Samsung BioLogics being set up. It was like a ray of hope for me. At Samsung BioLogics, I really feel like I found something I can truly enjoy doing.
Tell us a little bit about Samsung BioLogics as a company and how biopharmaceuticals are made?
In May 2010, Samsung identified biopharmaceuticals as one of five new growth engines and thus Samsung BioLogics was established. The company’s main business is contract manufacturing of biologics.
The manufacturing process can be divided into three steps: cell culture, purification and fill and finish. Cell culture is a process by which cells are grown to create proteins and vaccines that can be used for therapeutic purposes. After about 45 days of culturing cells, they are purified to extract these therapeutic materials, which are made into final products through the fill and finish process.
What was your biggest challenge at Samsung BioLogics and how you overcame it?
When I first joined the company, I had no knowledge about engineering since I majored in life science. For someone like me with no engineering background, it was a great challenge to set up machines and test drive them. I couldn’t even read the blueprint.
But I couldn’t just give up. It just meant learning from my seniors from the very beginning step by step. I still can’t forget the sense of fulfillment and pride I felt when we succeeded in our first production. I never imagined I would end up doing what I do, but I was able to dream a new dream at Samsung BioLogics.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned about working in a biopharmaceutical company?
As with any other job, team work is the most essential. The manufacturing process is complete only when everyone involved fulfills his or her task. It definitely helps to be familiar with other people’s parts as well. Manufacturing of biologics requires not only knowledge about life science, but also machinery since a lot of machines are involved in the process. So it is important to keep ourselves up to date with knowledge of various areas.