Staff Spotlight: Sam Bhatt

Sam Bhatt

Sam Bhatt is a Programme Manager at QuantuMDx. Here, Sam tells us more about himself and gives us an insight into his role.

When did you start working at QuantuMDx? 

I joined the QuantuMDx team in May 2015, not long after I completed my PhD (in radiotracers for cancer imaging, at Newcastle University) and after very quickly realising that the life of the postdoctoral research associate was not for me. I was desperate to get into a faster-paced life-science / biotech environment and I was very fortunate that QuantuMDx offered just that and were willing to take me on.

What does your role involve?

The role of a project or programme manager can vary wildly from company to company, even within our sector alone, but the core principles are the same in every business. A good PM needs to be an expert of communication, be able to facilitate delivery of the project objectives through resource and task management, and must be able to understand and disseminate the critical dependencies to ensure delivery in the required timeframe. As a more operations-based facet of the company, the PM team are involved in supporting and connecting various business functions, from early feasibility research activity right through to release of manufactured product to our distribution partners.

What excites you the most about your role at QuantuMDx?

To me, one of the most valuable aspect of my job is the opportunity I have to learn new skills/know-how. Throughout my time at QuantuMDx I’ve been lucky enough to obtain experience in a host of different disciplines that would typically be outside of my job description, including grant writing, business development, B2B contractual negotiations, manufacturing process management, supplier auditing, supply chain management, and validation activities to name but a few. Being a PM means I can both support and develop in-depth understanding across a wide range of business functions. Better still, I’m fortunate enough to be able to do all this whilst playing a key role in delivery of seminal product family.

What’s been your career highlight so far?

Project managing delivery of our first CE-IVD product will always stand out as a landmark achievement for me, and although this particular project only spanned a few months, the complexity and intensity that came with needing to deliver a solution to the global CoV-19 pandemic during a nationwide lockdown made this quite the challenge. Achieving this major company deliverable called for attentive, round-the-clock project management, but it could only be realised by the hard work of each and every team member involved. It was really quite gratifying to be part of such a big collaborative effort.

What has been your favourite QuantuMDx moment?

Company achievements like the CE marking our products and obtaining our ISO 13485 accreditation have been great things to be a part of, but better still are the celebratory events that follow. Despite the years, the unwritten work hard, play hard QuantuMDx motto still resides, and one event that I’ll always remember as being a very enjoyable experience was the company’s 10 year birthday party – a day of festivities that followed the delivery of our Mk10 prototype platform.

Why is QuantuMDx such a great place to work?

The diversity in challenges our team faces is superseded only by the vibrancy of personalities and skill sets that we have at QuantuMDx – it really makes our company a colourful working environment, and I’ve really appreciated being able to learn from and work with people from such diverse technical backgrounds.

What are you looking forward to achieving with QuantuMDx over the coming year?

Although I’ve not been with QuantuMDx for anywhere near the full 12+ year journey, I do recognise how much the company, its employees, and its supporters are looking forward to seeing the Q-POC™ on the market. We’ve worked through countless prototype platforms and iterations of disposable cassettes, developed significant technologies to call our own, delivered our first field studies and demonstrations, and more recently CE marking of our instrument, but delivering our complete Q-POC platform will mark the biggest achievement for us yet. There’ll certainly be a few bottles popped when we make that milestone…

Who have been your role models in life and why?

This is the easiest question on this list – and perhaps the cheesiest response, but that person always has been and always will my mother. She’s not had the easiest ride, but despite everything she’s always made sure my brother and I have had the support we needed to make a good go at the world. She’s a balanced mixture of fun and structure (oh she can be strict alright!), so that might explain where I get my project management attributes from…

What are your interests outside of work?

I like to keep outside of work activities as varied as possible, and where possible active to offset my love for food. I’ve been into kickboxing / Thai boxing from a young age, enjoyed distance running for some years now, and have more recently gotten into gymnastics/aerial. Although I’d never become an expert in any of these, in recent years I’ve learnt the benefits of keeping exercise diverse and varied. You’re far less likely to pick up injuries!

What are your favourite fiction and non-fiction books and why?

Do cookbooks count as fiction? I guess recipes can be thought up creatively, and/or can be derived through experimental design. So, I’m going to use a project manager trick here and utilise one solution to solve two questions. My favourite book is an ancient, very worn Indian cookbook (so old the name has worn off). It’s not pretty, nor is it padded with typical cookbook “waffle”, but it covers some core principles of Indian cuisine really well. Having an absolute feeder of a grandmother meant I’ve always been very confident with Punjabi cuisine, but this particular cookbook offers a number of brilliant recipes from central India.

Tell us something surprising about yourself.

Despite my scientific / project management background I’d consider myself to be fairly creative – I used to explore this with art at younger age, but now tend to do so with food (it’s a far more practical use of time). During my time as a PhD student I ran a cheesecake catering business that was particularly favoured by Thai boxing community – so it turns out that people who regularly have to track their diet to “make weight” for fights also like to overindulge in possible the unhealthiest dessert known to man. And, after all, who doesn’t like cheesecake?

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