When you interact with a company, the real driving force behind its success, vision, and commitment is not immediately visible. It is the passionate and dedicated individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes, shaping the organization’s journey and defining its future. One such influential person is Laura Gow (COO), a real talent at BDD, who has been with the company for more than a decade.
Laura’s professional journey encompasses more than 15 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical sector, with an impressive record in GMP manufacturing and clinical trial management. A specialist in her field, Laura’s influence extends far beyond her expertise, translating into strategic leadership. With an MChem from Heriot Watt University, she lays claim to a robust academic foundation that continues to inform her decision-making and innovative problem-solving abilities at BDD.
Career Evolution: Can you share with us your journey that led you to becoming the Chief Operating Officer at BDD? How has your background in chemistry influenced your approach to this role?
Like most people with a Chemistry degree, I started my career working in analytical labs. Whilst I loved the practical aspects, there were limited opportunities to try new things and really challenge the norm.
I joined BDD (Bio-Images Research) as a Clinical Scientist manufacturing IMPs but quickly became interested in scintigraphy as I saw how new products actually performed in vivo. I moved into hybrid clinical and manufacturing roles which eventually led me to assuming a combined role as Head of Clinical Operations/Production. The move to COO was a natural progression; managing such different teams gave me a unique insight into how processes could be streamlined within BDD and across our industry.
I am not sure I would say my background in Chemistry has wholly influenced my approach. However, I will say my time at university was invaluable in learning how to think methodically but to also approach every project with an intellectual curiosity and a questioning mind.
As you mentioned, in your role you manage both the clinical and development divisions at BDD. What do you find is the most exciting or challenging part of your job?
People! Building a team is without a doubt one of the most challenging but rewarding aspects of my job.
At BDD every project is entirely unique and has its own challenges and of course rewards. We want our employees to work with autonomy, think out of the box and be comfortable pressure testing each other. Our team play a pivotal role in establishing and extending our company culture, BDD simply wouldn’t be the company it is without them.
I was lucky to be supported to progress within the company so it’s also important to me that we offer similar opportunities for our staff. There is nothing more rewarding than helping talented people push themselves beyond their own expectations and watch them thrive.
Laura, with over 15 years in the pharmaceutical sector, you must have seen significant changes and advancements. What do you believe has been the most impactful innovation in this field during your career?
It has probably been talked about too much, but the sheer pace at which the Covid-19 vaccines were developed and manufactured was mind-blowing and it really showed what can be achieved in the sector. The roll out of the first mRNA vaccine has opened a whole raft of opportunities for the prevention of disease, including the UK drive for research into anti-cancer mRNA vaccines which is hugely exciting!
Could you share a pivotal moment or project in your time at BDD that truly stands out for you? What was your role in it and why does it hold such significance?
When we brought the clinical and development teams together as one integrated company that was a real step change in how we worked. The clinical teams are by nature organised and methodical – we need that to ensure that our studies are performed to the highest standards. In the development teams, we encourage our scientists to think differently, test exciting and crazy ideas and to be at the forefront of drug delivery research. It’s a key moment for me as I led the clinical team at the time. Bringing together two opposite ways of working was a real challenge but it’s been one of the best business decisions we have made.
As a seasoned leader, what advice would you offer to aspiring professionals looking to make a mark in the pharmaceutical industry? What are the key skills and traits you believe are crucial for success in this field?
As with any industry, keep focused on your goals, never stop questioning what you are told and look for inspiration in other sectors to help solve your more interesting challenges.
Lastly, Unwinding from the Scientific World: With such an intensely scientific career, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy in your downtime that help you unwind and refresh your mind?
I love CrossFit. The workouts are fun but challenging, I’m constantly learning new skills and throwing weights around is a great way to unwind and get rid of any frustrations of the day. If I’m not at the gym you’ll find me curled up with a good book, I usually get through 2-3 a week!
As we reflect on the incredible talent that underpins BDD, Laura undoubtedly stands out for her commitment to excellence and her profound understanding of our sector. She has been an instrumental figure in steering the clinical and development divisions, embedding our shared vision and strategy in every corner of the business.
Through Laura, we not only see a competent leader and expert in her field but also a testament to BDD’s mission to attract, nurture, and empower the best talent in our industry. The impact of her leadership is evident in our team’s achievements, our innovation, and our reputation for excellence. Her journey continues to inspire us all, reminding us of the transformative power of dedication, hard work, and strategic thinking. Indeed, Laura is not just a staff member at BDD – she is a significant part of our identity, a beacon of our ambitions, and a tangible embodiment of our shared vision for the future.
Learn more about our staff https://www.bddpharma.com/about/