It is hard to believe that March 11, 2021 will mark the one-year anniversary when WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. In those 12 months, I, like so many of you, have been affected both personally and professionally as we navigate this health crisis together. I have found it difficult to adjust to social distancing, virtual meetings, and my home as an office. I miss seeing the friends at PDA I have made over the years, the professional networking that brought us together to support each other’s career development, and the in-person meetings that allowed us to exchange fresh ideas to advance science and technology across the industry.
Yet, when I take a step back and truly reflect on where we are at today, I am inspired by what I see across the industry. There is unprecedented collaboration between companies who are normally competitors and partnership between industry and the regulators to develop and deliver safe and effective vaccines and therapies to patients across the world at a speed that we have not seen previously. Collectively, we have also ensured supply of critical medicines to patients dealing with serious medical conditions. I am proud to be part of this industry and what we are doing to deliver for patients.
I am also proud to be part of PDA during this extraordinary time. I see how PDA over the years has contributed significantly to manufacturing science, technology, and regulations that has allowed industry to rise to this occasion to better serve patients. PDA’s extensive library of publications provides pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical professionals and leaders like me with key advice, guidance, and education on topics like product quality, risk management, and manufacturing practices to ensure the product that we manufacture is safe and efficacious and that we deliver consistently and reliably. I have been fortunate in my career to attend conferences, training, and interest groups sponsored by PDA and each one has been instrumental in strengthening my technical and regulation knowledge and application. I have been taught by the best and I have benefited by those opportunities to engage with my peer group, academia, scientists, and regulators. I think you will find that a PDA membership can be valuable in your career pursuits.
I joined PDA Board of Directors just over a year ago to contribute personally to the advancement of PDA’s mission and to give back to an organization that has been so influential in my career and ongoing education as well has helped my company strengthen our procedures and practices to meet regulatory expectations. It has also provided my company the opportunity to have our scientists and quality professionals share our best practices and scientific knowledge with a broader audience and in the spirit of advancing science and technology so we can all benefit. These experiences have always been professionally enlightening and personally rewarding. I hope that my experience inspires you to become more involved and encourage others at your company to do the same.
As a Board member, I want to share the work we are doing to engage and grow our membership at PDA. Last year we conducted a membership survey that has provided valuable insights into what is working well for you and where we could do better. We are taking that information seriously and developing actions to address those opportunities you shared with us. For example, we will be advancing mentorship programs and increasing volunteer opportunities so that we can engage a diverse group of volunteers while ensuring a valuable experience for them. Additionally, PDA will continue to maintain our core competencies in manufacturing, GMP, and quality, by working with current subject-matter experts to identify and develop “up and coming” experts that will carry the torch into the future. This is a great way to get involved early in your career to build your reputation as an industry expert and leader. Or, you may have a staff member at your company that could benefit from an opportunity like this while also ensuring your company has the latest information and thinking on a specific topic available to them.
Additionally, we heard that you would like us to consider more progressive membership options to deal with the realities of today’s business environment and different needs of potential members. I am pleased to share with you that we have developed new membership tiers and PDA entry pathways to make PDA’s knowledge and network base more widely accessible globally. Look for information on these options and programs in the very near future.
Finally, developing future experts and leaders is front and center for PDA. We consider this an important aspect of carrying out our vision and mission as an organization. To do this, we are eager to increase our engagement with early career professionals. We want to play an important part in providing learning and development opportunities for these individuals. We have developed targeted programs, networking events, and volunteer opportunities for those early in their career so that they have an opportunity to learn from the network of experts associated with PDA to deepen their technical and regulatory knowledge allowing them to contribute on a larger scale at their company and within the industry. Please check out PDA’s website for more information on early career opportunities.
I want to thank our current members for their continued support of PDA, even during the unusual times of this pandemic. This support and sponsorship are important to advancing science and connecting people in our industry. Your feedback is important and is serving as a catalyst for positive change. We continue to evolve our programs, outreach, and volunteer opportunities to meet the needs of our members. I would also like to take this opportunity to invite you to spread the word about PDA and what our global organization has to offer. The value of membership and participation is enhanced for all of us when we have a diverse group of volunteer scientists and experts to shape the practices and standards for the industry.