Otsuka People Talk
Manufacturing Process Development Department (Pharmaceutical Products)
I think the key to creating something new is to approach problems from multiple angles, think in new ways, and challenge yourself to all kinds of things, even if it’s not clear how that will lead to a result.
A young employee talks about his ongoing dedication to finding solutions through trial and error, and his desire to deliver brand new products to patients in need.
Why did you join Otsuka?
I spent six years at university majoring in chemistry, so one reason I chose Otsuka was because I wanted to work for a chemical company where I could use my degree. Another reason was that I wanted to work somewhere that I could create something entirely new for a company that was somehow unique. My university research also included commercialization, and I saw that manufacturing technology would allow me to see the things that I work on being made available to the world.
What does Manufacturing Process Development involve?
Once we have received a new product from the lab, there are various stages we must go through to bring it to market, and it's this part of the process that makes up the majority of our work in the Manufacturing Process Development department. Our first task is to develop a commercial scale production process, which may involve building a brand-new type of machine. Once we have a finished product it is then submitted to the authorities for approval, after which we hand it over to the department responsible for production and turn our attention to the next new development.
I often work with colleagues overseas. For example, making conference calls between Europe, the United States, and Japan to share information and discuss how to move things forward.
What are the distinctive aspects of your work in Manufacturing Process Development?
Many of Otsuka's departments, including our research laboratories and the manufacturing process development department, are located in Tokushima in the rural west of Japan. The atmosphere may appear laid back, but the challenges we're taking on in our department are quite unique. They're also open to anyone who puts themselves forwards, regardless of age.
My current job is to develop and launch something brand new - a digital tablet with an IC chip embedded in it. The fact that I have the opportunity to take on a challenge like this is what makes Otsuka such an interesting and unique company.
Another unique point about Otsuka is that there are a limited number of people working on any given project, meaning that you often have a major role.
Thinking outside the box
The most difficult challenge I've faced so far was creating a new machine for developing our digital medicine; since there were no such machines in existence, we had to build it from scratch.
In situations like this, I think it is very important to think outside the box and to collaborate with a wide variety of people. If you try to work things out by yourself you can end up hitting a wall, but working with others both inside and outside of your own team can reveal entirely new ways of doing things, or new applications for your work.
At times it has been very challenging to keep track of the many aspects of these complex projects, but if I look back at how I overcame the difficulties I see how they helped me to grow, and ultimately how they make this such a rewarding job.
The challenge of being a group leader
I was a little surprised to be appointed as the leader of a group because my overpowering image of a group leader was someone with lots of experience. Various projects are on the go at the same time, and it can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with everything. Aside from the day-to-day work, I also need to think of the big picture when training new employees or reflecting upon how we can more effectively run future projects. However, with the support of a team, I can meet these challenges, and we can all continue to move forward.
My goal for now is to successfully see this project through to product launch and to get it to the patients who need it. Following that, I'll turn my attention to finding something new and set about turning that into a reality.