We Are Randox | Christopher McNally climbs the career leader from Placement to PhD

We Are Randox | Christopher McNally climbs the career leader from Placement to PhD

The name Christopher McNally may be one that you already recognise. In 2016 he earned 1st place in the Science category of the Randox Pinnacle Placement Awards, having caught the attention of Senior Management for his pioneering work developing a new diagnostic for pancreatic cancer.

Fast-forward two years and Christopher is now back at Randox as a PhD student, conducting research in prostate cancer as part of the recently-announced Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy.

We sat down with Chris to hear all about his revolutionary prostate cancer project, what motivated him to sign up to our PhD Academy and what it’s like to be back in the place where his scientific career began.

Here’s Chris’ story.

I came into Randox when I was just 19 years old for my third year at university as part of the company’s year-long placement programme. It was a great way to truly experience a working laboratory outside of the classroom and really cemented my desire to work in biomedical science.  

I was lucky enough to be placed in the company’s Donegal branch, Randox Teoranta, which is close to where I grew up in Gartan, and offered me the opportunity to carry out ground-breaking medical research surrounded by my home of Donegal.

I would highly recommend the opportunity to perform an industrial placement to anyone. It helps you to prepare for what comes after university, develops your skills in the area in which you are interested, and refines your laboratory techniques. I was delighted to hear I won in the Science Category of the Randox Pinnacle Placement Awards during my time there as well, and this really inspired a confidence in me that I had become a talented scientist even before I graduated.

When I completed my fourth year of studies at Ulster University, I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science and Professional Practice, and returned to work for Randox. The traits and qualities I learned during my placement had subsequently brought me to post-graduate employment, and I was thrilled. I was lucky enough to be able to walk straight back into the lab knowing exactly what to do and how to do it.

Despite becoming employed within Randox straight out of university however, I had this feeling that I was not finished with regards to academic study. I knew I wanted to do more, to perform more research. So, when I heard about the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy I really was intrigued. It was the perfect platform to further my studies and be able to give more to the scientific community.

When choosing the area of research for my PhD I was keen to hear more about a collaborative prostate cancer project led by two of Northern Ireland’s leading cancer researchers Dr Mark Ruddock (Randox) and Dr Declan McKenna (Ulster University). From my time at university and my time spent at Randox, I thought I could bring my experience and knowledge in cancer research into this project, so I thought, let’s go for it. 

Ultimately, the project involves looking at prostate cancer patients as well as patients who have other non-serious prostate conditions, and recognising any potential differences in the two. We can then develop a clinical diagnostic test that can identify the men at the highest risk of prostate cancer and stratify the patients accordingly.

The earlier we can do this, the quicker a patient can be treated, or not treated as the case may be. Overdiagnosis is a significant problem in prostate cancer care and many men, who do not have prostate cancer, but present with prostate cancer-like symptoms, unfortunately go through invasive, uncomfortable and most importantly, unnecessary procedures.

This work therefore has real potential to improve the management of prostate cancer, which is currently the most common cancer in males within the UK. It’s a very rewarding field to be working in and I thoroughly enjoy the work I’m doing knowing that it will have a real-life impact on many men. I’m very proud to be able to say that my PhD research will really make a difference and I now know for certain that I will continue working in cancer research after my project is complete.

Knowing that I’m helping to improve the quality of patient’s lives brings a great deal of satisfaction that few jobs can replicate and I’m excited to see what the next three years will bring.

We’re very proud of Christopher and the amazing work he is doing in prostate cancer research, and are delighted that he has made the decision to join the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy.

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com

To find out more about the Randox-Ulster University PhD Academy, please email randoxpr@randox.com

 

 

 

 

 


Randox and Ulster University to invest £5m in new Industrial PhD Academy

Randox Laboratories and  Ulster University have launched a £5 million skills development initiative to support up to 10 individuals annually through PhD level study in the Life Sciences sector.

The Randox-Ulster University-Industrial PhD Academy, which aims to encourage the development of advanced, higher level skills in key industry sectors, will further reinforce Ulster University’s position as one of the top universities for biomedical related research impact and, enhance Randox’s competitiveness in the growing global healthcare sector.

Up to ten PhD researchers will be supported annually, including Randox employees and individuals from the wider sector, who are working on a range of scientific projects, with the ultimate goal of new product development. They will have the opportunity to work on new research projects, driven by industry and jointly supervised by Ulster University and Randox, to enhance their own individual skill sets whilst delivering groundbreaking advances in the life sciences sector. Ulster University and Randox will each fully fund up to five PhD researchers annually.

To date PhD researchers enrolled in this new programme of Industrial Research have started exciting projects in areas of medicine including mental health, diabetes and cancer, with more projects being developed. All projects share the common goal of delivering new diagnostic approaches for early detection of disease and earlier intervention where possible.

Professor Alastair Adair Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ulster University said:

“Ulster University is renowned globally for research in personalised medicine, cancer, diabetes and mental health and this makes us the perfect fit for a global industry leader like Randox. Ulster University and Randox have a longstanding partnership built around research, knowledge sharing and collaboration which has placed both organisations at the forefront of diagnostics and health research globally.”

Ulster University Professor of Personalised Medicine Tara Moore, said:

 “The life sciences sector is of critical importance to our economy and health. To truly maximise our contribution to the economy and to fully exploit new advances in science and technology we must focus on advancing the skills of our workforce, ensuring the most talented people reach their full potential by working with partners to tackle new challenges and drive new discoveries.  A strong and growing life sciences sector ensures patients will continue to benefit from new technologies which will help to improve diagnosis getting them the treatment they need quickly.”

“This new Industrial PhD Academy is a further step forward in our commitment to respond to national priorities such as the Industrial Strategy, aligning the research community with industry to drive innovation, building on the world-leading reputation of Randox and supporting a new generation of researchers in this strategically important sector.”

Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, said;

“At this time of rapid and significant change in the UK, it is critical that the next-generation can meet industry’s ever-changing demands. The current STEM skills shortage costs the economy £1.5bn/year and will only be resolved if all companies in the sector recognise they have a role to play now too.

“In the last 4 months, we have made significant investments within Northern Ireland, in both R&D infrastructure and now in helping aspirational scientists at Ulster University to develop the critical skills to make a positive difference to patient healthcare around the world.  We are unapologetically ambitious in our determination to cement Northern Ireland’s reputation as a global hub for life sciences and our own position as a worldwide leader.”

For further information about the Randox UU PhD Academy please contact Randox PR by email: randoxpr@randox.com or by phone: 028 9442 2413

 

 

 

 


£50m Randox Centres of Excellence launched in Northern Ireland

A record £50 million investment which will deliver cutting-edge technologies to diagnose conditions like cancer, heart conditions and infectious diseases has been announced by Northern Ireland diagnostics company Randox Laboratories and Invest Northern Ireland.

This major project involves the establishment of three Centres of Excellence, enabling Randox R&D scientists to work collaboratively with colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. The centres are being officially launched today at the Randox Science Park. The ceremony will include a keynote address from Sir John Bell, who chaired the UK Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board.

Advanced diagnostics have been identified as key to delivering sustainable improvement to healthcare systems struggling to cope with increasing levels of chronic and preventable conditions. Having been focused in this field for over 36 years, Randox has a successful track record of developing new and innovative tests – examples include assessing those at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and genetic cardiac conditions, to promote and enable preventive treatment, and a new clinically-approved test to diagnose prediabetes.

Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, Dr Peter FitzGerald, who today launched the three Centres of Excellence, said;

 “When almost a quarter of the deaths of people under 75 in the UK are considered preventable, we need to ask ourselves what can be done to improve healthcare outcomes. There is an undeniable case for radical change in the way healthcare is delivered, and sophisticated diagnostics will be at the fore of this revolution.

“Enabling earlier and more accurate diagnosis, to identify those at the earliest stages of illness, ideally before the onset of any symptoms, is a game-changer. Through early intervention we can restrict the development of chronic conditions and improve people’s lives. Our view of the future is one where people are empowered through earlier diagnosis to stay healthier for longer, and where healthcare systems are freed to deliver quality services to patients. Our announcement today demonstrates our continuing commitment in this field.

“We are grateful for the support offered by Invest NI and look forward to addressing these pressing healthcare needs.”

The Centres of Excellence will focus respectively on clinical diagnostics, engineering for biosciences and quality control. The project, which will strengthen collaborative partnerships between Randox, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, will accelerate the development of new technologies and drive healthcare improvements regionally, nationally and across the globe.

Of the £23m of support offered by Invest NI, £5m will go toward research projects at Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast.

Welcoming the investment, Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest NI said;

“Randox has a long history of investing heavily in innovation and R&D which has enabled it to create a globally competitive export driven business, capable of developing world leading research. This major investment will enable Randox to perform cutting-edge R&D which has the potential to revolutionise the global healthcare industry. This is excellent news for Northern Ireland’s life and health sciences sector. Northern Ireland is enjoying a growing international reputation as a region of expertise and knowledge in key areas such as Diagnostics, Precision Medicine and Advanced Manufacturing. The three new Centres of Excellence will help build on this and enhance Northern Ireland’s credibility, provide supply chain opportunities, and encourage knowledge transfer with our universities.”    

Sir John Bell, commenting on the potential for the UK Life Sciences sector said;

“The life sciences industry represents one of the dominant economic sectors in the UK, and one with considerable potential for growth.   However, whilst we have many natural strengths we cannot afford to be complacent.  We must strive to optimise our science base, to encourage collaboration across academia, industry and the NHS, and grow our industrial capabilities.  To do so we need to use our extensive data sets to best effect, and have in place a strong skills strategy.  Success requires vision and drive.  To that end I would like to congratulate Dr FitzGerald and Randox in the establishment of these three R&D collaborative Centres of Excellence – these are assets of national standing and will have a meaningful impact in enabling earlier and more accurate diagnosis, driving improvements in patient care, regionally, nationally and globally.  They are leaders in this field, committed to innovation, and I wish them every success.”

Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director of Ulster University’s Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre, added;

“This very welcome investment enables pioneering Randox-inspired engineering capacity at Ulster University and reflects our research commitment to the life sciences industry. From nanotechnology to the development of systems that will enable large scale laboratory capability to be produced in the palm of your hand, the partnership brings shared industry and academic research excellence from the lab into the marketplace. Life sciences is a vital economic sector locally and this collaboration will advance diagnostics and ultimately enhance patient health outcomes.”

Dr David Jess, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast School of Mathematics and Physics, added;

“The Randox Centres of Excellence will allow Queen’s University Belfast to continue to deliver cutting-edge and world leading research. We look forward to collaborating further with industry to develop pioneering research, focused on the needs of society.”

Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014 – 2020.

For further information please contact the Randox PR Team: phone 028 9442 2413 or email randoxpr@randox.com 

 


We Are Randox | John Fitzgerald wins Ulster University awards for Master’s degree project with Randox

Here at Randox, we’re proud of the talented and innovative teams we have at all our sites. One of our talented engineers at Randox Teoranta recently won a prize for his final year university project in collaboration with Randox. John Fitzgerald, an Electronic Design Engineer, was presented with two awards from Ulster University on Thursday 7th December 2017 – the Civica Prize for excellence in his final project and the Institute of Engineering Technology Prize for achieving the highest grades in his class.

We caught up with John to hear all about it;

A very well done on your awards, John! Tell us about your final project for which you won the Civica Prize.

Firstly it is important to note that my final year project was conducted in conjunction with Randox Teoranta. Without the support, resources and encouragement from the exceptional Research & Development Engineering team here in Dungloe, my project would not have been such a success.

My final year project centred on the design of an industry-standard compact dry bath incubator, designed for the heating and cooling of small volume samples. With a simple and compact design, broad and precise temperature range, the intended use of the product was for bench-top laboratory incubations. The design also incorporated innovative, yet modest, capacitive touch pad controls and a digital display to provide confident temperature selection and accuracy.

This design project required design capabilities in three core engineering disciplines, electronic, embedded and mechanical engineering.

Were you surprised to learn you’d won an award for the project?

Yes, definitely! I was surprised when I received an email at the end of November, informing me that I was to receive the award. I can recall the quality of projects that were on show so this was a complete surprise to me.

I invested a great effort in this project and I’m proud of the personal and academic goals I’ve attained, however, the works achieved would not have been possible without the generous investment of advice from various different sources. I wish to take this opportunity to express my genuine appreciation and thanks to them all.

Thank you to Randox – the industrial knowledge and resources they provided for this wrk added significantly to the quality and relevance of my project to the real world. A special word of thanks, too, should also be afforded to my final year supervisor in Ulster University for the consistent academic support he delivered throughout the course of this MEng final year project.

Did you always want to be an engineer?

To be perfectly honest, the answer to this question is no. I was very uncertain for a long time what career I wanted to pursue as a secondary school student. I was never really exposed to the engineering profession and the wide variety of career paths it can lead to so engineering wasn’t something I immediately thought of when I was thinking of careers I would enjoy.

My father has a lot to answer for though – he was a tool-maker by trade and he instilled a significant interest in engineering and basic electronics in me, and is probably one of the primary reasons I felt a career in electronic engineering was the correct path for me. I decided to apply for my university placement year at Randox Teoranta in the Electronic Engineering team.

After just a few months in to my placement at Randox Teoranta, I knew I had made the correct career choice. I was Randox Teoranta R&D Engineering’s first university placement student, and that I could live at home in Donegal for the year and still receive a first class industrial experience.

How did you find your placement year at Randox?

My placement experience at Randox Teoranta was first class. I was afforded every opportunity to develop and grow my engineering skills. As my competency grew, so did my responsibilities and the complexity of jobs afforded to me.

The team of engineers in Randox Teoranta are exceptional professionals and provided excellent guidance to me as a young student engineer. The work I was tasked with was challenging and relevant and a considerable amount of the work I contributed to, remains in some form in the final Misano analyser that is manufactured today in Dungloe.

I cannot stress enough how important my placement year at Randox Teoranta was for me upon returning for my final two years of university. It provided me with a clear career path and I discovered a passion for Printed Circuit Board Design that I would not have been exposed to, if it were not for this placement.

I was extremely grateful to be offered a graduate position during my placement year on completion of my degree. This security made my final two years at university much more comfortable and also allowed me to discuss with the company the potential to complete my final year project in conjunction with Randox Teoranta. The opportunity to continue my learning and professional development as part of such a progressive and diverse engineering environment was an easy decision to make. As an added bonus, I am able to live at home, in the most beautiful part of the country and engage in an extremely rewarding and challenging profession in my field of study all at the same time. I consider myself very fortunate.

Tell us what a typical day is like in your role as Electronic Engineer.

One of the reasons I enjoy being an Electronic Engineer with Randox Teoranta to such a high degree, is the same reason that makes this question quite difficult to answer.

It is hard to categorise a typical day in my role as an Electronic Engineer in Randox Teoranta. I spend my time on a wide variety of duties or tasks depending on the design needs of the engineering team. I could be spending my time designing circuit schematics for new PCB designs, I could be producing the printed circuit board layout of designed circuit schematics, I could be testing new sensors, electronic parts or manufactured PCB’s to verify their performance, I could be engaging in verification and validation work for a new analyser, I could be engaging in the formation of critical design reports, the list can go on and on.

As the cliché goes, “every day is different”, something which is definitely applicable in this scenario.

What advice would you give to young people considering visiting the Randox Teoranta open day on Fri 22nd December?

I would encourage any young person with a remote interest in a career in Science or Engineering to attend the open day on Fri 22nd December. I believe they will be surprised as to the wide variety of professions and opportunities available at their doorstep.

A conversation with an experienced professional could ignite a spark which could provide clarity as to what they would like to pursue in further education, and in turn professionally. This is an opportunity I wish I was afforded as a young person growing up in rural Donegal, and I consider it an opportunity not to be missed for young people with a genuine interest in these exciting professional fields.

 

From all the staff at Randox, congratulations to John on this fantastic achievement. We look forward to seeing the pioneering engineering work you will continue to be part of in the future.

The Randox Teoranta Open Morning is on Friday 22nd December 2017 from 10am – 2pm at Randox Teoranta, Meenmore, Dungloe, Co. Donegal.

To find out more tel: +353 7495 22600 or email: randoxpr@randox.com

Pictured with John Fitzgerald (centre) is Dr. Robert McMurray, course director for MEng Engineering at Ulster University (left), and Angela Canavan, Managing Director of Civica who was present to award the Civica prize (right).


Randox announces launch of APEX programme 2018 for first year QUB and Ulster University students

Global health diagnostics provider Randox has launched the third year of its innovative APEX Programme. The APEX Programme is a unique career package which offers first year students a paid 8-week summer work experience between first and second year, a paid placement year in their third year of study and, finally, a graduate job if they complete their degree with a 2:1 or above.

There are many different disciplines which are critical for Randox’s global operations, from pioneering research and development scientists to business strategists, savvy marketing teams to top-level engineering departments.

The APEX programme is open to all students currently studying biological sciences but also those studying business, marketing, maths, physics, graphic design, computer science and any form of engineering.

The APEX Programme is like no other in the UK and Randox were pleased to recruit 20 first-year students last year after a high number of applications. The difficulty for students trying to find work experience and a coveted graduate position has been highlighted in recent years. In 2016, official UK government figures reported that one-in-three young graduates were working in low-skilled jobs, being unable to find work which matched their skills. In the same year there was a 2.2% drop in the number of 21 to 30-year-old graduates in skilled worked compared with the year earlier.

The APEX Programme application process is as unique as the programme itself. No CVs or lengthy application forms needed – just submit a 15 second video on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and 140 character cover note telling us why you are the one for Randox, including hashtags #IAmTheOneQUB or #IAmTheOneUU, depending on your university. It really is that simple! Submit your video from 27th November to 8th December 2017 to be in the running to join the Randox team.

Graduates often face tough competition for jobs in their field of study once they leave university. It’s a well-known cycle for budding young professionals ready to enter their first graduate job – how can I gain the vital experience needed when many roles cite a year or more work experience as an essential requirement?

Linda Magee, Randox Human Resources Manager, says initiatives like the Randox APEX Programme are essential.

“Graduates leave university and enter a tough environment, where expectations are high and competition is fierce. The ones who do best are those who can get the necessary real-life work experience in their area of expertise.

“Randox believes in giving young people a chance to make their mark by taking on real responsibilities right from the start. Undergraduates will work side-by-side with our top teams in science research, manufacturing, engineering, business, marketing and many other disciplines who are working on ground-breaking diagnostic innovations and campaigns which will make an impact globally. 

“As a result, the APEX programme gives our recruits incredible confidence in their abilities. It’s also very important to us that the programme offers paid placements which last for the duration of their degree, so they are able to focus on their studies while working towards a graduate position with a world-leading company after graduation.”

Lee Armstrong, who is studying chemistry at Ulster University, completed his first placement with the APEX Programme in summer 2016 and is now back completing his placement year in the clinical chemistry team. He said:

“I was attracted to the APEX Programme because it was completely different from any other company’s placement – nowhere else do you get a summer placement, a year placement and then a job after graduating if I achieve a 2:1.

“I am currently on my one-year placement, which has allowed me to gain experience with real-life projects. I’m not treated like a student at all – I’m treated like another scientist in the team and I get to work on real projects.

“I would recommend students to apply for the APEX Programme because you gain invaluable experience throughout your degree, there’s the possibility of a job in your field at the end of it – and the application video is much easier than labouring over a CV!”

In 2015, 5% of the world’s population received a diagnosis using a Randox product. It is a world-leading diagnostics company which is developing state-of-the-art facilities at the Science Park in Antrim. It has 1400 employees and operates in 145 countries.

More information about the APEX Programme can be found at http://iamtheone.randox.com 


Ulster GAA team embark on Randox-sponsored tour of China

Ulster University’s GAA team departs on a historic two week tour of China this weekend as part of the university’s wider programme of engagement in key international markets, sponsored by Randox.

Following a reception with the Lord Mayor of Belfast earlier in the week, the 25-strong team will leave Belfast on Saturday morning for the two week cultural exchange that aims to develop and enhance links with a number of Chinese academic institutions.

The trip is being sponsored by Randox and facilitated by the university’s Confucius Institute.

The team is spending a week in Beijing before heading to Wuhan and Huangshi City to play several games as part of an extensive tour promoting sporting excellence at Ulster University, in particular Gaelic Games.

Professor Ian Montgomery, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Ulster University, said:

“Gaelic games are of increasing interest to the Chinese people and there is a strong appetite to learn about the various sports, and replicate key tactics and the strong cultural identity which Ulster University’s GAA team has developed over many decades.”

“We’ll be playing several GAA teams, including a talented Beijing team, and sharing knowledge with the coaches on how to improve the players’ game and training regimes. When we get to Wuhan and Huangshi City, we’ll be taking Chinese language classes, learning martial arts and trying our hand at authentic Chinese cooking.” 

For many of the students, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel across the world to an important global market. As well as promoting sporting excellence and acting as ambassadors for the University and Northern Ireland, they will be instrumental in helping the University and Randox build stronger relationships with new and existing partners.

Dr Peter FitzGerald, founder of Randox, said:

“We are pleased to support Ulster University’s Gaelic team as they embark on a very exciting tour of China. It is one of our most important markets, as we have been exporting to China since 1992 and we have had an established presence in the region for several years. This is a brilliant opportunity for our partnership with Ulster University to profile some of the young sporting talents of Northern Ireland and to strengthen key business relationships in an important market.”

For further information about the Randox-sponsored GAA tour, please contact Randox PR by phoning 028 9445 1016 or emailing RandoxPR@randox.com


Ulster GAA team sponsored by Randox bringing sporting excellence to China

Ulster University’s GAA team is preparing to travel to China on an historic tour of the country as part of the university’s wider programme of engagement in key international markets.

The trip, which will be sponsored by Crumlin-based diagnostics firm Randox, will see a 35 strong team depart on 28 October for a two week cultural exchange that aims to develop and enhance links with a number of Chinese academic institutions.

The team will travel to Beijing, Wuhan, and Huangshi City and play several games as part of an extensive tour promoting sporting excellence at Ulster University and Gaelic Games in particular.

Professor Ian Montgomery, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Global Engagement at Ulster University said:

“GAA is of increasing interest to the Chinese people and there is a strong appetite to learn about the various sports, key tactics and the strong cultural identity which Ulster University’s GAA team has developed over many decades. This tour, supported by Randox, will give our team the opportunity to showcase Gaelic football and hurling to a vast audience which is interested to learn more and experience a game first-hand through a number of Gaelic Games masterclasses.”

“As an internationally focused university it is important to continually build new partnerships in this vast market and further enhance existing linkages. From research collaborations with some of China’s top universities to our role as home to the Confucius Institute and Confucius classrooms initiative in Northern Ireland, China remains a significant market with clear potential for growth. We look forward to building on our work in this region and meeting new connections as part of the tour.”

Dr Peter FitzGerald, founder of Randox, said:

“We are pleased to support Ulster University’s Gaelic team as they embark on a very exciting tour of China. It is one of our most important markets, as we have been exporting to China since 1992 and we have had an established presence in the region for several years. This is a brilliant opportunity for our partnership with Ulster University to profile some of the young sporting talents of Northern Ireland and to strengthen key business relationships in an important market.”

For further information about the Randox-sponsored GAA tour, please contact Randox PR by phoning 028 9445 1016 or emailing RandoxPR@randox.com


We Are Randox | Randox Apprentice Grace Catney graduates with First Class Foundation Degree

Did you know that in partnership with Southern Regional College, Randox offers an industrial apprenticeship scheme?

This month our first group of Randox apprentices completed this Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science, and we’re delighted to announce that Grace Catney, an apprenticeship from our Quality Control division, has graduated with a first class degree!

We sat down for a chat with Grace to find out how she has found the apprenticeship experience, and what she wants to let students know about what it’s like to do an apprenticeship with Randox.

 

This is what Grace had to say:

After completing one year of my A-levels I applied for a BTEC National Diploma in Applied Science, having realised that doing A-levels wasn’t the path I wanted to take.  For young students I think it’s so important to let them know that there is no one correct path to your dream job.  Going directly into university isn’t for everyone, and completing the National Diploma was the best decision I made for my own education, as I gathered the hands on experience in the laboratory that I wouldn’t have had if I was to finish my A levels. During my National Diploma which lasted 2 years, I worked in my family’s chip shop and in Starbucks, which was also so fundamental in teaching me how to balance work, education and leisure.  

Then when I gained a Triple Merit in my BTEC, my tutor from Southern Regional College made me aware of the apprenticeship with Randox, and so I went along to an interview which lasted around 20-30 minutes. Four people were chosen to take part in the apprenticeship programme, with three out of the four people having been on the BTEC course with me. The other apprenticeship came from a previous job and already had a masters degree.  The apprenticeship programme is open to people from all walks of life.

The apprenticeship itself is a 2 year programme made up of one day a week in the Southern Regional College in Portadown, and four days a week working in Randox. At college I studied a range of modules including Biochemistry, Genetics, Professional Practice, Laboratory Procedures, Physiology, Cell Biology, Chemistry and Mathematical Statistics, and at Randox I completed 3 rotations working within Production, Biochip Quality Control and R&D Quality Control.

Carrying out the apprenticeship has helped me improve so much in many areas. Working and completing the Foundation Degree is very intense, as you are simultaneously studying for exams and learning new work skills within your department. But the benefit is that you can apply what you are being taught to your work as soon as you learn it, which makes understanding the concepts so much easier.

The most enjoyable part of the apprenticeship was the rotation through different departments.   This helped me to learn a lot about the work that goes on – from the initial production of a Reagent, to Microbiology, Quality Control, Quality Assurance and then shipping to customers. Being in multiple departments has allowed me to see different stages along the production life of a product, while getting to know many incredibly talented employees throughout the company.

Working for such a globally successful company has given me the opportunity to see how science is changing the world, and to be a part of it, and it has also given me an advantage over full-time university students, because I already have 2 years’ experience in the science industry and a job secured. Education is important, but in the science industry experience is essential, and that’s what I am thankful to Randox for.

I have been treated as an employee, and not just a student.  The responsibilities with which my managers have entrusted me with have given me a real insight into the role of an analyst, and the different rotations helped me to determine what area of science I would prefer to work in.

When I came into Randox all I knew is that I wanted a hands-on, practical job that would help make a difference in the world of healthcare. When I completed my final rotation in R&D Quality Control, I knew that it was the department I could see myself in permanently, and so I was delighted when I was offered a full time job. 

Knowing that my work over the past few months in Quality Control has been to a level high enough to be offered a permanent job is a very good feeling. Many students come out of university with a degree but cannot find a job. I’ve done the opposite of that in some ways – I secured a job first before moving on to the next stage of my degree!  The only condition of the job was that we had to pass the foundation course, and so luckily I got a first overall.

I feel a mixture of nerves and excitement knowing that I’m going to be completing my final two years of a BioMed degree while working at Randox.  I think the distance learning will be an easier transition than maybe I had previously thought, given that during the apprenticeship we only had one day in class and had a lot of online classes throughout the week. I’ve never wanted to go to university as a full time student and so I’m am glad that this is available to me to complete while continuing my career with Randox. I have read a lot about the Biomedical Degree and the modules and am quite eager to begin the course. 

It’s also reassuring knowing that over the past 2 years I have significantly developed my ability to prioritise work, and to balance my job and studies. This will set me in good stead for my BioMed degree. Having a full time job and completing coursework and studying for exams is very hard and can be stressful – but the end result is worth it.

It can be challenging, but that’s what I love about science – there are so many new reactions, materials, procedures, regulations etc. to learn. There can be a big workload at times, but that’s always going to happen when you’re part of such a fast-paced company, and at Randox we’re very lucky that the support is always there if needs be. Luckily, I enjoy the rush and challenge of my job, and knowing your employer is trusting you to work on their world-class products is an amazing feeling.

Although the apprenticeship is challenging, if you have the right mind-set and motivation, you will gain so much from it. I highly recommend the Randox Higher Level Apprenticeship Foundation Degree in Applied Industrial Science.  

Grace

 

We wish Grace and her fellow Randox apprentices the best of luck on whatever path they have chosen to progress to the next stage of their careers.  

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com


Randox and partners announce opening of £7m Advanced Biomedical Devices laboratory

Randox Laboratories is pleased to announce the opening of a state-of-the-art Advanced Biomedical Engineering Laboratory today, the result of an innovative partnership with some of Northern Ireland’s leading business and education stakeholders.

The strategic collaboration with Invest Northern Ireland, Ulster University and Heartsine Technologies to develop the £7 million laboratory aims to transform the future of healthcare. The lab, which is based at Ulster University, will offer expertise and state of the art equipment to assist companies to develop prototypes for the biomedical, engineering, electronic device and aerospace sectors.

Welcoming the new lab, Dr Peter FitzGerald from Randox Laboratories said: “As one of the UK’s leading life sciences companies, we are delighted to be a partner in this innovative collaboration and to promote Northern Ireland as a global life sciences hub. We believe the greatest improvements to patients’ lives are possible through the continuous development of new technologies.

“This unique laboratory will facilitate that, as it will allow the rapid development of test prototype devices and also assist us to expand our unique range of high-calibre analyser systems.”

Tracey Meharg, Invest NI’s Executive Director of Business Solutions said: “The new Bio Devices Lab is a welcome and exciting development for Northern Ireland’s Health & Life Sciences sector. The facility will open up opportunities for stronger innovation by hosting a suite of equipment which will allow companies to quickly develop prototypes and medical devices for testing.

“It is a great example of how partnerships between government, industry and academia can enhance Northern Ireland as a knowledge economy and boost the credibility and visibility of Northern Ireland as a global leader in connected health.”  

Prof Jim McLaughlin from Ulster University said: Developing technology platforms to help translate our world class science and discovery to a device format as promptly as possible is essential for the very best design and performance.

“In healthcare technology, Ulster University leads the way in the development of new patient monitoring systems, stimulation devices, wearable solutions and diagnostic sensing.

“The lab will enable our researchers to develop the strong leadership and innovation skills so critical to future industry growth, working in collaboration with our industry partners.”

The total investment is £7.4m. Invest NI has offered assistance of £3.7m through a Grant for R&D, with Ulster University contributing £2.9m and £716,000 invested through industry collaborations with Randox Laboratories and Heartsine Technologies. Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020.

Celebrating the opening of the Advanced Biomedical Engineering Laboratory are (from left) Professor Brian Meenan, Ulster University; Tracy Meharg, Invest NI; Professor Jim McLaughlin, Ulster University; and Stuart McGregor, Randox Laboratories


We Are Randox | A year in the life of placement student Jenna Ireland

This week marks the end of the 2016/17 academic year for our Randox Placement Students. As we say goodbye and wish them luck for the future, we reflect on the year they have spent with us.

Jenna Ireland, a Business Management student from Ulster University, finishes her year-long placement tomorrow, Friday 11th August, before embarking on her final year of studies.

We sat down for a chat with Jenna to find out how she has found the placement experience, and what she wants to let students know about what it’s like to do a placement year with Randox.

 

This is what Jenna had to say:

I found out about the Randox Placement programme through our University Career Centre, as Randox has very close links with Ulster University.

I liked the sound of a company with such vast experience and a truly global presence.  The company has a fantastic reputation across Northern Ireland as a leading business and employer so I thought, where better to spend my placement year?

The international network at Randox was truly apparent as soon as I began to work here.  My colleagues in the team in which I was placed, which is the Sales Team for a number of specific regions including India, were so welcoming and supportive in spite of the extremely high-level careers they are in.  They made time for me and went out of their way to help me to settle into my role and life at Randox even though they are so busy managing the sales for so many countries!

I began my time at Randox with a full two weeks of training to ease me into what has been my first full-time job.  This gave me an overview of the company, the products and services I would be selling, the Randox ethos, the responsibilities of my job role, and the format of the placement programme.

I have also received training throughout the year on newly launched products to ensure total understanding of the technologies with which we are working.  I wanted to gain a really in-depth knowledge of our Randox products so I also took it upon myself to complete online training modules.

The role itself that I have had during my time here at Randox is Sales Support Executive. This has involved assisting our team with research tasks as well as introducing new mechanisms to be used by our team after I leave.  I have had the opportunity to really make my mark on the sales systems in place, by working on important projects including our organisational charts and our sales report, which is presented to Senior Management. I’ve also been involved in distributor relationship management, to make sure we always have the best partners in place for Randox.

I really feel like I’ve learnt a lot during my time here. I know that for some students in other organisations, during their placements they are unfortunately encumbered with the boring administrative tasks that more senior members of the team try to avoid, but it hasn’t been like that for me at all.  The responsibilities with which my manager Rebekah has entrusted me have given me a real insight into the role of a salesperson in a very dynamic and fast-paced environment.  I’ve loved meeting and interacting with members of our global team, as well as our distributors and customers. 

My favourite moments during my time here have definitely been attending our Global Sales and Distributor Conferences.  Spending time with a wealth of Randox salespeople from around the world meant that I could lean on their advice and experience to learn what it means to be a good sales person.  I was able to talk to them about how to manage staff, about their tactics for increasing sales, and generally just get an overview of their roles and responsibilities.  It’s great to hear from our global sales staff about their country, their culture, their language.  There are such fantastic opportunities to travel at Randox which makes a sales job here so exciting.

Throughout my year at Randox I have had to submit two four-month reports to university, the first in October and the second in March, to assess and evaluate my placement.  My tutor also came out to Randox to have a face-to-face meeting with my manager and me to discuss how I have been getting on, and my Randox mentor met with me regularly throughout the year to make sure I had all the support I required.

At the end of my placement I then submitted a placement portfolio including a 5000-word report on my time at Randox. I had to explain everything that I had learnt here and how I put into practice the skills and knowledge I had gained from university.

University is a fantastic stepping-stone into the working world, but you truly start to learn what it means to have a career when you experience the industry you want to work in for yourself.  My final report for university was really useful because it enabled me to look back on my time here and reflect on what a fantastic experience it has been.

Not only have I grown in confidence, in my abilities and in my vocational development (simple things like writing professional emails and answering the phone in a polite and engaging way!) but I have also made some great friends. 

Randox is such a friendly place and the team I have working beside me has been part of the reason I have enjoyed my time here so immensely.  We get on really well together and quite often we go out together for lunch on a Friday as an end-of-week treat.

As I finish up my time here (I can’t believe it’s been a year already!) I really want to take the opportunity to thank everyone at Randox for all their support over the year, and of course to thank my sales team for teaching me so much.

To my Line Manager Rebekah Tougher and to my Global Manager Paul Turnbull in particular I want to say a massive thank you for being such fantastic role models and for truly taking me under your wing and helping me flourish.

The first step in my Business Management career has been amazing and it’s thanks to the amazing team at Randox.

Now time to get my head back into the books for my final year of uni! Wish me luck!

Jenna

 

We wish Jenna and her fellow placement students all the best as they head back to university.  We might even see them return in the future as Randox graduates!

For more We Are Randox stories about our amazing colleagues, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow the hashtag #WeAreRandox.

For current vacancies in our team, visit careers.randox.com


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