Career Development with PPD® Laboratories

Kelly Butts, GMP Lab

Kelly Butts is a group leader for the PPD® Laboratories GMP lab in Middleton, Wisconsin. Below she describes her background, experience and why you should consider PPD for your next career move.

Interviewer: Can you provide an overview of your role at the PPD Laboratories GMP lab?

Kelly Butts: I am a group leader in the PPD Laboratories GMP lab in the small molecule and inhalation testing services department. In my role, I provide management and direction to laboratory staff and resources for project activities and needs. I oversee daily operations to monitor quality and project timelines, and assist in preparation and implementation of company policies, quality systems and training programs. I ensure responsiveness to the customer and client satisfaction overall. I am the immediate supervisor for a group of employees, and develop staff to keep pace with departmental goals and growth. I also provide troubleshooting for analytical instruments and method performance, providing guidance and training to my team.

Interviewer: Describe your background prior to joining PPD?

Kelly Butts: I earned my bachelor’s degree in 2003 from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse with a minor in chemistry and a major in biology with a concentration in aquatic science and environmental science. Following graduation, my job search lead me to an analyst position at a small environmental chemistry laboratory where I was responsible for testing wastewater, groundwater, leachate and soil samples in the wet chemistry department. While I enjoyed that type of testing and gained a lot of experience, I decided to shift my scientific focus from environmental to pharmaceuticals. A couple of my former coworkers had started to work at PPD, and had great things to say about the company. I joined PPD in 2005 as an associate scientist in the inhalation testing services department.

Interviewer: How has your career developed since joining PPD?

Kelly Butts: My career progression at the PPD Laboratories GMP lab has been great and very rewarding. When I started my career at PPD, I didn’t know anything about inhalation products or the testing required on them. As an associate scientist, I started working primarily in the lab, which gave me an excellent foundation of things we do at PPD Laboratories and why we do it. Having the experience and knowledge of what happens in the lab has prepared me for each position I have held. I also learned a lot behind the scenes, such as project management skills, stability study set down routines, report creation, data entry and scheduling testing in other functional groups.

After two years at PPD, I became a scientist, which involved performing the same types of tasks with less supervision from my project leader, and I became a client contact. These new experiences built my confidence. Three years later, I was promoted to senior scientist. While I still responsible for the previous tasks, I mentored and trained other team members, and became the technical expert on the drug products in our group. After an additional three years, I advanced to an associate group leader and became the leader of my own team. All of my previous lab experience really helped me excel in this position.

After three years as an associate group leader, I was promoted to a group leader. Since starting at PPD, I have had an achieving attitude, which has resulted in being given increased responsibilities and more complicated tasks. I have used these opportunities to advance my career to the next level.

Interviewer: In what ways has PPD equipped you to successfully perform the roles that you have held?

Kelly Butts: Each new employee is required to attend the new employee orientation program (NEOP),which is conducted by an internal training department. This program ensures that all new employees are trained on the different software programs utilized at PPD and that laboratory personnel are consistent in their basic lab techniques before joining their respective groups.

Following NEOP, I was trained specifically for the testing I would be required to perform in my group, and have been trained on new instrumentation. PPD offers a lot of opportunities for training and the training department occasionally brings in outside vendors for specialized, informative instrument training. I have trained with other groups to learn other methods and types of inhalation products, as well as some biopharmaceutical methods. Once I became a supervisor, I completed a great deal of specialized management and leadership training from human resources, and mentored with my supervisor, which helped calm any fears I might have had about managing people. PPD encourages employees to grow within the company.

Interviewer: What advice would you give to someone looking to develop a career within the PPD Laboratories GMP lab?

Kelly Butts: I would advise them to give the PPD Laboratories GMP lab a chance! Based on the array of services that the lab offers at our state-of-the-art facilities, there are ample opportunities to expand your career. Be vocal in your career development, let your supervisor know what interests you and where you would like to see yourself in the future. Don’t pass up any learning opportunities that may help develop you, your career and your talents.

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