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  42 options for your future

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42 options for your future

Our employees: talented and passionate

BERLIN-CHEMIE AG and Menarini GmbH offer a diverse range of jobs to suit a wide variety of employee profiles. Watch our interviews and video clips to find out what it’s like to work for us and the widely diverse jobs our employees do. Learn about what the fascination with pharmaceutics really means for the people who work here, and why they enjoy coming into work every day.

See what experienced professionals, new recruits, trainees and students have to say and build up a picture of an exciting day in the life in our company.

Experienced professionals

Elena Hilfer , Staff member responsible for packaging texts

„I’m constantly evolving: just like everything around me.“

Elena Hilfer , Staff member responsible for packaging texts

„I’m constantly evolving: just like everything around me.“


Ms. Hilfer, what do you answer when you are asked what you do for a living?

I say that I create packaging components at a pharmaceutical company, such as folding boxes, foils/films, labels and package leaflets. And I also say: That might sound boring, but it isn't. It's exciting.

Why?

Because we create all the packaging components for our large product range, and that means for lots of different countries. These are countries with different languages and individual requirements for the texts given on the packaging. In addition, the packaging should have a design that appeals to the customer. It must also be printable and compatible with the packaging machines. All of these steps are intermeshed for those of us working in Materials Management. In the end, we create packaging components for a product that will later sit on the shelf in one of our countries and eventually find its way to the patient.

Does that mean you have to be knowledgeable in each of these steps or are there various experts?

Naturally, there is a dedicated department for every step. For example, Marketing is responsible for designing the packaging. However, it can happen that the texts stipulated by Regulatory Affairs are so extensive that they do not fit on the packaging design desired by Marketing. We then work together to find a compromise. In parallel to that, the capabilities of our printing partners must also be considered as well as the technological requirements coming from the in-house or outsourced production. As you can see, there is a lot to coordinate, and potential conflicts must be identified early. That is one of the greatest challenges of our daily work.

In other words, you are the interface between the departments?

Correct. We consolidate the information so that the packaging component ultimately satisfies all the requirements – and we do that for over 50 languages.

50 languages?

That's right. Of course, no one in our department speaks 50 languages. The respective representative offices in the countries are responsible for the final texts that are binding. In our Production Material, Editing team, we only create a base text. This is written in English or Russian and then completed and translated by the departments in the various countries.

Does that mean I would have to speak Russian to work on your team?

Knowledge of Russian is an advantage. But we also have members of the team who have not learned Russian. Nevertheless, they quickly got their bearings and familiarised themselves with the Cyrillic script. They are now able to correctly identify and assign the relevant text passages and instructions. You just can't let yourself be intimidated by it.

How many staff work in the team with you?

There are eight of us in the team for packaging texts.

Eight colleagues who are divided up among 50 languages?

We are not organised by language or country but by active substance and dosage form. In other words, everyone essentially works with every country and every language.

How long have you been working at the company?

It will be ten years soon.

Have you worked in various departments during this time?

No, I am a good example of how someone can sit at the same desk for ten years. (laughs) Sounds boring again, but it never has been for me. Even after almost ten years in my profession, I never have the feeling of no longer being interested in my work. Instead, I find that I am constantly improving myself in the same job. The same goes for everything around me: the company, the processes, the tools. There are always new active substances, new requirements, new campaigns, new people and projects. You are always challenged, and you learn as you go along.

You have a degree in pharmaceutical engineering. Are what you studied and what you do today related?

Definitely. An engineering mindset is frequently required in my job. For example, we have to quickly understand how a packaging machine works, to which production steps our packaging is subject and what consequences these individual steps have on the packaging. To put it simply: how a machine stamps, when the sticker is applied, how the package leaflet gets into the box and much more.

In other words, understanding the machine helps you decide, for instance, where on the package a text can be printed?

That's right. The packaging design must always be adapted to the technological requirements in production. Otherwise it won't work.

Do all of your colleagues have a background similar to yours?

We are pharmaceutical engineers, packaging engineers and industrial engineers. We also have one colleague with a business administration background on the team.

Business administration?

When someone has certain personal attributes, even that is possible.

What kind of attributes are required?

An understanding of technical concepts is very advantageous. You should not fear contact with production machinery and you should be able to read machine drawings. It either suits you or it doesn’t. It is also important to be very diligent, structured and conscientious and to work at a constant speed. You have to be able to recognise all the details at once and merge them. Not even the smallest detail can be overlooked.

Dr. Asgar Ergin , Distribution Manager Clinical Trial Supply

„Working alongside people from such a wide range of cultures makes the job really varied.“

Elena Hilfer , Staff member responsible for packaging texts

„I’m constantly evolving: just like everything around me.“


Ms. Hilfer, what do you answer when you are asked what you do for a living?

I say that I create packaging components at a pharmaceutical company, such as folding boxes, foils/films, labels and package leaflets. And I also say: That might sound boring, but it isn't. It's exciting.

Why?

Because we create all the packaging components for our large product range, and that means for lots of different countries. These are countries with different languages and individual requirements for the texts given on the packaging. In addition, the packaging should have a design that appeals to the customer. It must also be printable and compatible with the packaging machines. All of these steps are intermeshed for those of us working in Materials Management. In the end, we create packaging components for a product that will later sit on the shelf in one of our countries and eventually find its way to the patient.

Does that mean you have to be knowledgeable in each of these steps or are there various experts?

Naturally, there is a dedicated department for every step. For example, Marketing is responsible for designing the packaging. However, it can happen that the texts stipulated by Regulatory Affairs are so extensive that they do not fit on the packaging design desired by Marketing. We then work together to find a compromise. In parallel to that, the capabilities of our printing partners must also be considered as well as the technological requirements coming from the in-house or outsourced production. As you can see, there is a lot to coordinate, and potential conflicts must be identified early. That is one of the greatest challenges of our daily work.

In other words, you are the interface between the departments?

Correct. We consolidate the information so that the packaging component ultimately satisfies all the requirements – and we do that for over 50 languages.

50 languages?

That's right. Of course, no one in our department speaks 50 languages. The respective representative offices in the countries are responsible for the final texts that are binding. In our Production Material, Editing team, we only create a base text. This is written in English or Russian and then completed and translated by the departments in the various countries.

Does that mean I would have to speak Russian to work on your team?

Knowledge of Russian is an advantage. But we also have members of the team who have not learned Russian. Nevertheless, they quickly got their bearings and familiarised themselves with the Cyrillic script. They are now able to correctly identify and assign the relevant text passages and instructions. You just can't let yourself be intimidated by it.

How many staff work in the team with you?

There are eight of us in the team for packaging texts.

Eight colleagues who are divided up among 50 languages?

We are not organised by language or country but by active substance and dosage form. In other words, everyone essentially works with every country and every language.

How long have you been working at the company?

It will be ten years soon.

Have you worked in various departments during this time?

No, I am a good example of how someone can sit at the same desk for ten years. (laughs) Sounds boring again, but it never has been for me. Even after almost ten years in my profession, I never have the feeling of no longer being interested in my work. Instead, I find that I am constantly improving myself in the same job. The same goes for everything around me: the company, the processes, the tools. There are always new active substances, new requirements, new campaigns, new people and projects. You are always challenged, and you learn as you go along.

You have a degree in pharmaceutical engineering. Are what you studied and what you do today related?

Definitely. An engineering mindset is frequently required in my job. For example, we have to quickly understand how a packaging machine works, to which production steps our packaging is subject and what consequences these individual steps have on the packaging. To put it simply: how a machine stamps, when the sticker is applied, how the package leaflet gets into the box and much more.

In other words, understanding the machine helps you decide, for instance, where on the package a text can be printed?

That's right. The packaging design must always be adapted to the technological requirements in production. Otherwise it won't work.

Do all of your colleagues have a background similar to yours?

We are pharmaceutical engineers, packaging engineers and industrial engineers. We also have one colleague with a business administration background on the team.

Business administration?

When someone has certain personal attributes, even that is possible.

What kind of attributes are required?

An understanding of technical concepts is very advantageous. You should not fear contact with production machinery and you should be able to read machine drawings. It either suits you or it doesn’t. It is also important to be very diligent, structured and conscientious and to work at a constant speed. You have to be able to recognise all the details at once and merge them. Not even the smallest detail can be overlooked.

Grit Leonhardt , Application Systems Project Manager

„I like that it’s both traditional and international.“

Grit Leonhardt , Application Systems Project Manager

„I like that it’s both traditional and international.“


Ms. Leonhardt, you're an Application Systems Project Manager and describe yourself as an interpreter between software users and software developers. Can you paint a more detailed picture?

In my department, International Division, I act as a link between my colleagues who work in international sales and the software developers at BERLIN-CHEMIE's IT Department. These are areas that sometimes speak very different languages. (laughs) I coordinate joint development projects.

How is it that you speak both languages?

I studied business administration with a focus on international management, marketing and business information technology and then gained professional experience abroad. For example, it was all about software in supply chain management, and of course I was dealing with people and their various cultures in the process.

Whereabouts in the export sector are software solutions needed?

Solutions, plural, is right. We have many, many software applications in sales. It's become very multi-layered and complex over the past years. Most important is our goods management system. This is software we use to create invoices for export customers. In addition, we have software for the various export papers that have to be produced, from the packing list, via the customs declaration, right up to the transport insurance certificates. There are also planning systems for sales-volume planning and systems for coordination between Sales, Production and Regulatory Affairs. We have systems for the management of master data as well as reporting systems for sales statistics and inventory monitoring. And then we also have a database for our prices. Each of the over 30 countries in which we sell our products has its own price list.

If someone has specific ideas for some software or suggestions for improvements, do they then simply come to you?

Yes, that's the way it quite often works. Colleagues frequently come and say: Every month, I have to do so much by hand at this point. Couldn’t we create a software solution for this? I check it over, discuss the idea within the department and then discuss it with the IT Department. Together we consider whether we already have a software solution we can use, whether we have to programme it ourselves or if we would have to purchase an application. But I'm often frequently so involved in the department processes that I notice something myself that calls for a software solution.

You also hold training sessions. How much of your time does that take up?

When new software is introduced, there are training sessions for all staff affected, either face to face or with the aid of user manuals. We prepare English-language manuals and presentations and train our colleagues here in Berlin but also in the foreign offices. In total, there are over 250 colleagues around the world who work with our systems. Supporting all of these users takes up more and more time. BERLIN-CHEMIE is growing and this  means new employees, who have to be trained, are joining.

And when someone has a hard time with some software?

Then we're always the first point of contact. In this way, we take some of the pressure off the IT Department. Our colleagues there should be able to focus on the programming. For questions from users such as “Which button do I press?”, we're the first line of support.

You had already worked at another pharmaceutical company before coming to BERLIN-CHEMIE in 2005. But your work is not necessarily bound to this industry, right?

Yes and no. It's definitely an advantage to have special knowledge of the sector. Production in the pharmaceutical industry is batch based, and this gives rise special requirements for the software. What's important is allocating a batch to the customer and the shelf life, or the remaining shelf life, of the medicines. Documentary evidence of a batch includes the production, warehousing and distribution. That can't be compared with manufacturers of consumer goods. On top of that, we have to consider approvals for medicines from the regulatory authorities of each individual country. All this is also reflected in the software.

Where did you get this knowledge of the sector?

It came through professional experience. In the first pharmaceutical company I worked for, there was a large range of issues to be dealt with. I learned the ropes and then brought this knowledge with me to BERLIN-CHEMIE.

How did it actually come about that you work in the pharmaceutical sector today?

It was more of a coincidence. But I immediately felt at home. On the one hand, I like working for a grounded company, i.e. one that actually produces something. On the other hand, I like the international flavour. When you work in the export sector like I do, you deal with many different countries: such as Russia, Poland, the Balkan countries and even Scandinavian countries. Here, you have to be capable of to handling various cultures.

Which other qualities does someone in your position need?

Besides logical thinking and systematic working, these capabilities include a sense of organisation. Part of it involves bringing the teams together, organising meetings, preparing presentations and being able to convince others of your ideas. In addition, it calls for tact. Not every good idea is accepted immediately. You have to be able to sell them as well. And set priorities when resources are tight. Where can I make compromises? And how do I convey this compromise so that it's acceptable to everyone? That isn’t always so easy. (laughs) The great thing about being at BERLIN-CHEMIE is that I can always explore new areas of activity.

Such as?

Let’s say I'd like to reorganise certain processes because I see that something we've been doing for years is no longer working optimally. Then I can set this project in motion myself. In larger companies, it's frequently the head of department who brings a project into being and perhaps also brings in an outside consulting company. At BERLIN-CHEMIE, these changes are also driven from bottom to top and generally without external consultants. We do have an internal consulting department that supports us, but we also do a lot within our own department. Firstly because we have these two project management positions, and secondly because we have line managers who support this.

You have two young children and spent a year on parental leave after each birth. Are you working full time again?

No, part time. It's very positive that this is possible here, and fortunately it's also easy to manage with my work. I really enjoy working, and at the same time I want to watch my children grow up.

How quickly did you get back into the swing of work after returning from parental leave?

It varied. In 2008, when I came back from parental leave the first time, I got back into the swing of things very quickly. At that time, not so much had changed. In 2010, it was different. During the year I was absent, some very important new planning software was introduced in Berlin and all the foreign offices. This really changed our world fundamentally. That was a major adjustment for me. Fortunately, the colleague who held my position during my parental leave remained with us in our department. One position became two because the new software brought significantly more work with it. It helped me a lot that the two of us were able to work as a pair after my parental leave.

Anne Thieke , Staff member at Parenterals Manufacturing

„You’re challenged and know you’re doing something good. “

Grit Leonhardt , Application Systems Project Manager

„I like that it’s both traditional and international.“


Ms. Leonhardt, you're an Application Systems Project Manager and describe yourself as an interpreter between software users and software developers. Can you paint a more detailed picture?

In my department, International Division, I act as a link between my colleagues who work in international sales and the software developers at BERLIN-CHEMIE's IT Department. These are areas that sometimes speak very different languages. (laughs) I coordinate joint development projects.

How is it that you speak both languages?

I studied business administration with a focus on international management, marketing and business information technology and then gained professional experience abroad. For example, it was all about software in supply chain management, and of course I was dealing with people and their various cultures in the process.

Whereabouts in the export sector are software solutions needed?

Solutions, plural, is right. We have many, many software applications in sales. It's become very multi-layered and complex over the past years. Most important is our goods management system. This is software we use to create invoices for export customers. In addition, we have software for the various export papers that have to be produced, from the packing list, via the customs declaration, right up to the transport insurance certificates. There are also planning systems for sales-volume planning and systems for coordination between Sales, Production and Regulatory Affairs. We have systems for the management of master data as well as reporting systems for sales statistics and inventory monitoring. And then we also have a database for our prices. Each of the over 30 countries in which we sell our products has its own price list.

If someone has specific ideas for some software or suggestions for improvements, do they then simply come to you?

Yes, that's the way it quite often works. Colleagues frequently come and say: Every month, I have to do so much by hand at this point. Couldn’t we create a software solution for this? I check it over, discuss the idea within the department and then discuss it with the IT Department. Together we consider whether we already have a software solution we can use, whether we have to programme it ourselves or if we would have to purchase an application. But I'm often frequently so involved in the department processes that I notice something myself that calls for a software solution.

You also hold training sessions. How much of your time does that take up?

When new software is introduced, there are training sessions for all staff affected, either face to face or with the aid of user manuals. We prepare English-language manuals and presentations and train our colleagues here in Berlin but also in the foreign offices. In total, there are over 250 colleagues around the world who work with our systems. Supporting all of these users takes up more and more time. BERLIN-CHEMIE is growing and this  means new employees, who have to be trained, are joining.

And when someone has a hard time with some software?

Then we're always the first point of contact. In this way, we take some of the pressure off the IT Department. Our colleagues there should be able to focus on the programming. For questions from users such as “Which button do I press?”, we're the first line of support.

You had already worked at another pharmaceutical company before coming to BERLIN-CHEMIE in 2005. But your work is not necessarily bound to this industry, right?

Yes and no. It's definitely an advantage to have special knowledge of the sector. Production in the pharmaceutical industry is batch based, and this gives rise special requirements for the software. What's important is allocating a batch to the customer and the shelf life, or the remaining shelf life, of the medicines. Documentary evidence of a batch includes the production, warehousing and distribution. That can't be compared with manufacturers of consumer goods. On top of that, we have to consider approvals for medicines from the regulatory authorities of each individual country. All this is also reflected in the software.

Where did you get this knowledge of the sector?

It came through professional experience. In the first pharmaceutical company I worked for, there was a large range of issues to be dealt with. I learned the ropes and then brought this knowledge with me to BERLIN-CHEMIE.

How did it actually come about that you work in the pharmaceutical sector today?

It was more of a coincidence. But I immediately felt at home. On the one hand, I like working for a grounded company, i.e. one that actually produces something. On the other hand, I like the international flavour. When you work in the export sector like I do, you deal with many different countries: such as Russia, Poland, the Balkan countries and even Scandinavian countries. Here, you have to be capable of to handling various cultures.

Which other qualities does someone in your position need?

Besides logical thinking and systematic working, these capabilities include a sense of organisation. Part of it involves bringing the teams together, organising meetings, preparing presentations and being able to convince others of your ideas. In addition, it calls for tact. Not every good idea is accepted immediately. You have to be able to sell them as well. And set priorities when resources are tight. Where can I make compromises? And how do I convey this compromise so that it's acceptable to everyone? That isn’t always so easy. (laughs) The great thing about being at BERLIN-CHEMIE is that I can always explore new areas of activity.

Such as?

Let’s say I'd like to reorganise certain processes because I see that something we've been doing for years is no longer working optimally. Then I can set this project in motion myself. In larger companies, it's frequently the head of department who brings a project into being and perhaps also brings in an outside consulting company. At BERLIN-CHEMIE, these changes are also driven from bottom to top and generally without external consultants. We do have an internal consulting department that supports us, but we also do a lot within our own department. Firstly because we have these two project management positions, and secondly because we have line managers who support this.

You have two young children and spent a year on parental leave after each birth. Are you working full time again?

No, part time. It's very positive that this is possible here, and fortunately it's also easy to manage with my work. I really enjoy working, and at the same time I want to watch my children grow up.

How quickly did you get back into the swing of work after returning from parental leave?

It varied. In 2008, when I came back from parental leave the first time, I got back into the swing of things very quickly. At that time, not so much had changed. In 2010, it was different. During the year I was absent, some very important new planning software was introduced in Berlin and all the foreign offices. This really changed our world fundamentally. That was a major adjustment for me. Fortunately, the colleague who held my position during my parental leave remained with us in our department. One position became two because the new software brought significantly more work with it. It helped me a lot that the two of us were able to work as a pair after my parental leave.

Young professionals

Dr. Florian Kirchner , Junior Medical Advisor at Medicine and Research

„What matters to us is the disease, and not just promoting the product.“

Xenia Danilova , Graduate purchasing trainee

„The trainees in our company are given a lot of responsibility right from the start.“

Xenia Danilova , Graduate purchasing trainee

„The trainees in our company are given a lot of responsibility right from the start.“


Ms. Danilova, you're a trainee at Central Purchasing. How is your training going there?

What I'm doing is not a classic trainee programme. From other companies I was familiar with trainee programmes during which you rotate through the different areas of the company for one-and-a-half or two years. For me this is not the case. I work at Purchasing the whole time, but rotate through the various areas and familiarise myself with different categories of purchasing. This allows me to specialise very well. Actually, what I do, is already comparable to what a Junior Purchaser does. At our company, a trainee has a lot of responsibility and freedom with the planning and management of projects and during the optimisation of purchasing processes right from the start – of course, only if you've achieved a certain level of trust.

And how quickly were you given your own projects?

It was pretty quickly, maybe it took a couple of months. The job description was worded at the time as follows: "Purchasing with a focus on television advertising." I didn't really know what this meant at the time, because purchasing on its own is not something a person can visualise. It's also hardly taught on degree courses. And the purchasing of television advertising is something quite special in its own right.

What exactly then does Purchasing do?

At our company, there are two departments that do purchasing: Materials Management is more what you'd consider to be direct production-related purchasing. I, on the other hand, work at Central Purchasing. We purchase everything that is not required for production. That means that we don't buy machines or active substances, or even chemicals. Instead we buy marketing and event services; we buy cars for our fleet; we deal with the leasing contracts. So really we purchase everything else – but primarily services. Along with this, we have numerous strategic tasks, for example, procurement market research, the development of purchasing strategies, the concentration of purchasing power as well as the assessment and development of suppliers.

Although your focus is the area of television advertising. What does this mean?

Television advertising makes up about 50 percent of my work. I manage seven countries in which we distribute numerous OTC products, meaning products available without a prescription. These products are promoted in the media, primarily on TV. There's a pretty big budget behind it. Our Product Managers in the countries don't handle the promotion alone, but cooperate with a media agency. We at Purchasing chose the media agencies in consultation with the country and Marketing Department, handle the tendering procedure, negotiate the commercial framework conditions and manage the contracts. Additionally, we control adherence to the agreements during the contractual year, are the contact for the agency and the country regarding commercial matters and have the agency assessed by an independent auditor.

Which countries are you responsible for?

I, myself, am responsible for the Baltic States, Caucasus and Albania. So a total of seven countries.

And how did you happen to become responsible for these seven countries?

First and foremost, of course, because my language skills. I'm from Russia. The agencies and our colleagues in the foreign offices abroad do speak English, but a lot of things can be explained better in Russian. And because I'm the only one in our team who can speak Russian, it just sort of came to be.

You studied media management. Does that help you today in your job?

Basically, it is a good mix. I have a bachelor's in media management. When I now purchase media, it helps because I know about media systems. I know for example how media research works and how viewer ratings come about. My studies were also very strongly related to projects. I was able to acquire many helpful skills, for example, how you successfully manage a project and communicate complex evaluations in simple terms. My studies for a Masters degree in European Business were more generally about management with the focus on Europe, on strategy and consulting. There I acquired my commercial knowledge and learned to work in international teams. I think that in order to be good at purchasing, it's not simply just about executing an order transaction, you also have to deal with the services and products being purchased.

Which skills should you definitely bring to your job?

I think the skill to solve problems is number one. You have to work very systematically and question things. Good communication skills, written and also verbal, are the second important point, for when working as a manager there are numerous interfaces. I have many external customers and also cooperate with many departments.

Are there other characteristics that are important?

You need a certain degree of skill and assertiveness to be successful in negotiations. But I think that you also have to be diplomatic. Purchasing doesn't mean exerting pressure on the supplier to get the best price. You have to think strategically long term and strive for a situation that brings advantages to both the supplier and your own company. What else? A good head for figures definitely. We must keep an eye on costs, carry out evaluations, question numbers.

Who provides you with support when something is new for you or when you need advice?

We have "old hands" in the team who have already been here for a while. They're always there to help me, the same applies to my team leader. When I notice that I'm not sure about certain things then I go to my boss. He advises and helps me to make the right decision or refers me to somebody else who can help me.

You're frequently away on business. Where have you been already this year?

First in Kyiv. Our office there wanted to move. We were at viewings, met with potential landlords and analysed the market. After that, I was in the Baltic States and now it's time for the Caucasus countries. I was also in Russia for almost a week. That trip dealt with tendering procedures for media services as well as printing and promotional materials.

Those are very different things, here a search for office space, there a tendering procedure for promotional materials.

Correct. New tasks and projects are continually coming my way. I'm very grateful for that. In my work, I always need new challenges, new areas. I do have my core areas that I enjoy maintaining and optimising, but I am always happy when something new comes up.

Dr. Nicole Dennhart , Research Associate

„Documentation is absolutely essential. Everything we do here must be retraceable. “

Dr. Nicole Dennhart , Research Associate

„Documentation is absolutely essential. Everything we do here must be retraceable. “


Dr. Dennhart, you are actually trained as a food chemist. How is that that you are now working at a pharmaceutical company?

In principle, I had already shifted to another direction – the area of bioanalysis – when I was working on my doctorate This automatically moved me a little bit away from the area of food chemistry. Then I looked around for a new position and saw that many pharmaceutical companies were also looking for food chemists, simply because we are well trained analytically. And in the field of research where I currently work, analytical chemistry, typical analysts are needed.

What exactly do you analyse?

As a food chemist, I naturally analyse all foodstuffs that are on the market. All foodstuffs have a label stating what is in them – how much fat, how much sugar. A food chemist takes the foodstuff and checks whether all the information is correct. In a pharmaceutical company, the situation is the same: A tablet is produced, and on it it states that the tablet contains 400 milligrams of an active substance. It is important that it really does contain 400 milligrams so that the consumer receives what is stated on the package.

But certainly there are differences between analysing foodstuffs and analysing medicinal products, right?

Whether I take some orange juice and analyse it or I dissolve a tablet and look for the active substance, the techniques used are essentially the same. Naturally, however, one must consider additional requirements in the area of pharmaceuticals. For example, there are certain guidelines that must be followed.

You work at the Research and Development Division. Which phase of development are you involved in when a new medicinal product is developed?

First there is always an active substance. This is generally developed by my Menarini Group colleagues in Italy. The active substance must then be formulated into a suitable form, such as tablets or solution. This is handled by our Pharmaceutical Development Department. The colleagues there come up with a formulation, and the medicine is produced in the form in which it should be tested. I am involved here not in one but various development phases.

For example?

It could involve characterising the existing active substance, such as with solubility studies or determining the water content. Or I analytically investigate the desired formulation to show how stable the active substance formulation is in various climate zones and to check whether unexpected decomposition products form.

At this point, the medicine is not yet on the market, right?

No, not yet. First the formulation process must be completed. Then there are various clinical phases, in other words studies, that a medicine must pass through. In addition to the safety of the medicine, these involve determining the dosage and naturally verifying a significant efficacy. When these have all been completed successfully, approval of the medicine is applied for with the competent authorities, and only then does it come on the market. That is a long path, and unfortunately it can happen that a project is suddenly stopped, for example, when it is apparent that an active substance is not sufficiently effective.

Do you get used to the fact that a project can be suddenly ended like that?

It is always something of a blow since you have put so much work and energy into it. For two or three days, I do think: Oh, that’s really too bad. But that is part of the process. That is research and development. And yet you have still moved forward. Even if the development of a cancer medicine is stopped, for example, we have still carried out research in this area and we have come a step further.

What is a typical work day like for you?

In the department where I currently work, I am still in the lab a lot and am able to do practical work. I see this as my little niche that I have here. What I hear from people I studied with is that this is hardly possible anywhere else. Where they are, laboratory technicians have taken over the practical work and they receive and evaluate the resulting data. Here, I can also work in the lab. This is great when developing methods since you are right there and can quickly make changes yourself if you notice that something is going in the wrong direction. That is the great thing about it. After all, I originally trained as a laboratory technician, and I enjoy doing that as well.

How much of your working time is taken up with documentation?

I would say my work is almost two-thirds documentation. Documentation is absolutely essential. Everything we do here must be retraceable. Anything not documented effectively has not been done. You have to get used to that, especially if you are coming fresh from university. I believe there was a question even during my job interview as to whether I thought I could handle the extensive documentation. That simply isn't everyone’s thing.

Are there other properties or skills that are especially important for your work?

Being conscientious is very important. For example, you have to get used to writing everything down immediately. That is important. In a job like this, you also have to be very organised and orderly. But someone without those traits would probably never have completed studies in analysis anyway.

You have been working at the company for a few years now and have changed positions once within research and development.

That's right. First I had a fixed-term position in Quality Control for Pharmaceutical Development, but then a permanent position opened up in the Analytical Chemistry Department. The department head knew me from earlier collaboration and said he would be glad to have me on the team if I were interested in changing positions. Well, it wasn’t hard to say: Okay, I'll apply. And it worked out. Although I was also very happy working in the group I started with.

What is the biggest difference between your old and new teams?

The first team was younger, on average. Now I am in a department where I am among the youngest. But that is also a great experience, I have to say, because my colleagues are so knowledgeable. They approach problems very differently. When you are still gaining new experience in your career, you often get very agitated when something does not work. But my colleagues are very composed in such cases because they have been there many times and there was always a solution. I have to say, that is really great. That is an entirely different way to work, and not everyone has the chance to become acquainted with it.

Do you have the feeling that your colleagues are also open to new ideas that you have to contribute?

Yes, definitely. When I joined, they said to me: Oh, here comes a breath of fresh air. In addition, our department frequently performs services for the department where I was before. That is nice because I know the system and naturally the staff there. That makes things simpler.

What is your general impression of the company, do employees quickly get to know each other?

Yes, they do. I have met many people, for instance, because I play volleyball here. The company supports a club in Adlershof, and we can use their facilities for company sports. Thus, I have met colleagues from many different departments this way. And then there are also the running events, which I often participate in. This way we interact on a private level as well.

You earned your doctorate in Munich and moved to Berlin to work. What was the deciding factor in making this choice at the time?

For one thing, I already knew people in Berlin since I had studied here. For another, I have to say that I found the application process here to be great. It went so quickly at the time. Other large companies always take a very long time before they respond. By then, I had already long since signed the contract here and found a flat in Berlin. (laughs)

Paulina Bastek , Junior Applications Manager

„Constant sharing of know-how and the teamwork.“

Dr. Nicole Dennhart , Research Associate

„Documentation is absolutely essential. Everything we do here must be retraceable. “


Dr. Dennhart, you are actually trained as a food chemist. How is that that you are now working at a pharmaceutical company?

In principle, I had already shifted to another direction – the area of bioanalysis – when I was working on my doctorate This automatically moved me a little bit away from the area of food chemistry. Then I looked around for a new position and saw that many pharmaceutical companies were also looking for food chemists, simply because we are well trained analytically. And in the field of research where I currently work, analytical chemistry, typical analysts are needed.

What exactly do you analyse?

As a food chemist, I naturally analyse all foodstuffs that are on the market. All foodstuffs have a label stating what is in them – how much fat, how much sugar. A food chemist takes the foodstuff and checks whether all the information is correct. In a pharmaceutical company, the situation is the same: A tablet is produced, and on it it states that the tablet contains 400 milligrams of an active substance. It is important that it really does contain 400 milligrams so that the consumer receives what is stated on the package.

But certainly there are differences between analysing foodstuffs and analysing medicinal products, right?

Whether I take some orange juice and analyse it or I dissolve a tablet and look for the active substance, the techniques used are essentially the same. Naturally, however, one must consider additional requirements in the area of pharmaceuticals. For example, there are certain guidelines that must be followed.

You work at the Research and Development Division. Which phase of development are you involved in when a new medicinal product is developed?

First there is always an active substance. This is generally developed by my Menarini Group colleagues in Italy. The active substance must then be formulated into a suitable form, such as tablets or solution. This is handled by our Pharmaceutical Development Department. The colleagues there come up with a formulation, and the medicine is produced in the form in which it should be tested. I am involved here not in one but various development phases.

For example?

It could involve characterising the existing active substance, such as with solubility studies or determining the water content. Or I analytically investigate the desired formulation to show how stable the active substance formulation is in various climate zones and to check whether unexpected decomposition products form.

At this point, the medicine is not yet on the market, right?

No, not yet. First the formulation process must be completed. Then there are various clinical phases, in other words studies, that a medicine must pass through. In addition to the safety of the medicine, these involve determining the dosage and naturally verifying a significant efficacy. When these have all been completed successfully, approval of the medicine is applied for with the competent authorities, and only then does it come on the market. That is a long path, and unfortunately it can happen that a project is suddenly stopped, for example, when it is apparent that an active substance is not sufficiently effective.

Do you get used to the fact that a project can be suddenly ended like that?

It is always something of a blow since you have put so much work and energy into it. For two or three days, I do think: Oh, that’s really too bad. But that is part of the process. That is research and development. And yet you have still moved forward. Even if the development of a cancer medicine is stopped, for example, we have still carried out research in this area and we have come a step further.

What is a typical work day like for you?

In the department where I currently work, I am still in the lab a lot and am able to do practical work. I see this as my little niche that I have here. What I hear from people I studied with is that this is hardly possible anywhere else. Where they are, laboratory technicians have taken over the practical work and they receive and evaluate the resulting data. Here, I can also work in the lab. This is great when developing methods since you are right there and can quickly make changes yourself if you notice that something is going in the wrong direction. That is the great thing about it. After all, I originally trained as a laboratory technician, and I enjoy doing that as well.

How much of your working time is taken up with documentation?

I would say my work is almost two-thirds documentation. Documentation is absolutely essential. Everything we do here must be retraceable. Anything not documented effectively has not been done. You have to get used to that, especially if you are coming fresh from university. I believe there was a question even during my job interview as to whether I thought I could handle the extensive documentation. That simply isn't everyone’s thing.

Are there other properties or skills that are especially important for your work?

Being conscientious is very important. For example, you have to get used to writing everything down immediately. That is important. In a job like this, you also have to be very organised and orderly. But someone without those traits would probably never have completed studies in analysis anyway.

You have been working at the company for a few years now and have changed positions once within research and development.

That's right. First I had a fixed-term position in Quality Control for Pharmaceutical Development, but then a permanent position opened up in the Analytical Chemistry Department. The department head knew me from earlier collaboration and said he would be glad to have me on the team if I were interested in changing positions. Well, it wasn’t hard to say: Okay, I'll apply. And it worked out. Although I was also very happy working in the group I started with.

What is the biggest difference between your old and new teams?

The first team was younger, on average. Now I am in a department where I am among the youngest. But that is also a great experience, I have to say, because my colleagues are so knowledgeable. They approach problems very differently. When you are still gaining new experience in your career, you often get very agitated when something does not work. But my colleagues are very composed in such cases because they have been there many times and there was always a solution. I have to say, that is really great. That is an entirely different way to work, and not everyone has the chance to become acquainted with it.

Do you have the feeling that your colleagues are also open to new ideas that you have to contribute?

Yes, definitely. When I joined, they said to me: Oh, here comes a breath of fresh air. In addition, our department frequently performs services for the department where I was before. That is nice because I know the system and naturally the staff there. That makes things simpler.

What is your general impression of the company, do employees quickly get to know each other?

Yes, they do. I have met many people, for instance, because I play volleyball here. The company supports a club in Adlershof, and we can use their facilities for company sports. Thus, I have met colleagues from many different departments this way. And then there are also the running events, which I often participate in. This way we interact on a private level as well.

You earned your doctorate in Munich and moved to Berlin to work. What was the deciding factor in making this choice at the time?

For one thing, I already knew people in Berlin since I had studied here. For another, I have to say that I found the application process here to be great. It went so quickly at the time. Other large companies always take a very long time before they respond. By then, I had already long since signed the contract here and found a flat in Berlin. (laughs)

Eun-Young Lee , Pharmacist

„I was warmly welcomed and got on really well with my colleagues“

Eun-Young Lee , Pharmacist

„I was warmly welcomed and got on really well with my colleagues“


Ms. Lee, you had already got to know the company before you started working permanently at BERLIN-CHEMIE. How did you do this?

I did an internship here as a pharmacy intern for six months. That was – let me think – in May 2010. Exactly. Back then I was working at Clinical Trial Supply at the Research and Development Division.

What did you do at Clinical Trial Supply?

Clinical samples are preparations intended for clinical studies. Generally, for clinical trials, you need the preparation with the active substance and a placebo. At the department where I was, these clinical samples were prepared. Among other things, I helped pack everything up so that ultimately nobody knew if they got a placebo or preparation with the active substance.

You also worked at a pharmacy for six months, right?

Exactly. As a pharmacist, you have to do a one-year internship after your studies. Half of the year must be spent in the pharmacy. The other half you can spend either at a pharmaceutical company or in a hospital pharmacy, for example. I decided back then to work in the pharmaceutical industry for six months.

And how did you become aware of BERLIN-CHEMIE?

I had already heard the name BERLIN-CHEMIE and then towards the end of my studies, when you start to contemplate doing an internship, I looked again specifically. There was more than one position advertised at BERLIN-CHEMIE, and the one at Clinical Trial Supply interested me the most.

How did it then proceed with you and BERLIN-CHEMIE?

After the internship, I still had to complete the third state licensing examination. That means, I studied for about a half a year first, then took the exam and then applied for a couple of positions, one of which was at BERLIN-CHEMIE. But not for my current position. First I worked for more than a year at Quality Control in the area of documentation and then I applied for my current position.

How fast did you adapt to the working routine after your studies?

I'd have to say that it took about six months until I really could work independently. Of course, I already contributed before that, but often had questions.

And with the colleagues?

With the colleagues it went much faster. I received a warm welcome and got along very well with my colleagues. But the fact that I already knew the company also helped immensely. I was indeed in a completely different department, but I already knew a couple of colleagues and how things at the company work.

You said that you switched positions again. At which department do you work now?

I'm still at Quality Control, but now work in the area of contract analysis.

Contract analysis? Does this have something to do with analysing contracts?

No. (laughs) That means that I work specifically with third-party goods. These are products that BERLIN-CHEMIE does not produce and release itself, but only takes on the distribution for BERLIN-CHEMIE. That's why we don't have to do any analytical tests. The products we receive however we do control once more conclusively.

How does this work?

In my case, the drugs from the respective companies have already been released for market. We remove three retained samples from every product batch and store these at our company in case of an inquiry from consumers later on, for example, when something with the product is not right. Additionally, I receive the Certificates of Analysis with which the manufacturer certifies that nothing is amiss with the products and I check these.

In which case would you not release goods you have checked?

If for example something is not right with the documents. My colleagues inspect the samples and I receive their documentation and check if the information on the package agrees with that on the certificates. It may so happen that the manufacturer has made a mistake in the Certificates of Analysis. That's why I check everything again and, if necessary, request new certificates.

What helped you to get your bearings in the new area at Quality Control?

I was trained well by a colleague who did the job before me. He explained everything to me from the very beginning. Generally, training on general workflows at Quality Control or third-party continuing education is also provided. For example, I attended a continuing education course on the entire distribution process. I learnt quite a bit there.

Are there things about your work that you would like to change?

At the moment, I have been working in this area for about eight months and have noticed processes that are really no longer optimal. For many different reasons. Thus, I sat down with all those involved and discussed with them what we could change. I made suggestions and the group discussed if they were feasible. Several things were then adjusted – but there is probably still more to come. I think it's very exciting to see that I can change things and immediately see if they do or don't work.

How open were your colleagues to your suggestions?

They were very open because they had also noticed that things were not running smoothly. For example. sometimes we had a situation where we were searching for some documents because it wasn't really clear who the right contact person was. There were discussions about how we change things. But overall there was no issue. Everyone gladly participated.

Anne Jeschke , Pharmacy intern

„I wasn’t aware of what actually goes into the production of medicinal products. “

Anne Jeschke , Pharmacy intern

„I wasn’t aware of what actually goes into the production of medicinal products. “


Ms. Jeschke, you are a pharmacy intern and spending half of your practical year at BERLIN-CHEMIE. Why? You could have, for example, also spent the entire year at a pharmacy.

Because I'm still not really sure what I want to do after the third state licensing examination. I know that I want to have contact with people during my work, whether it's at a pharmacy or company. That's why I wanted to get to know something else besides a pharmacy. You never again have the possibility to get to know an area as easily as during this internship. I wanted to take advantage of this and have the feeling that I have learnt quite a bite.

You work at which department at BERLIN-CHEMIE?

I work at the Regulatory Affairs Department. We manage all of the marketing authorisations for products approved in Germany. But this also includes marketing authorisations in the EU. We act as the point of contact for the German regulatory authority, the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, for the often long procedures for new registrations and renewals. If for example something about a product changes, the changes are first assessed from a regulatory standpoint and compiled by different departments.

What was the application process for the internship actually like?

All intern positions for the individual departments are advertised on BERLIN-CHEMIE's website. You can apply there. Originally, I'd chosen another position that however had already been assigned. Then somebody from BERLIN-CHEMIE called me and said that there were yet other positions still available, and I thought the one at Regulatory Affairs looked very interesting.

What are the other departments you have contact with during your work?

We interact with numerous departments. For example, I work with colleagues responsible for the quality documentation. In that documentation, everything is recorded that has to do with the quality of a drug, like the stability data and information on how it's manufactured and tested. The colleagues have their offices on the same floor. If we have questions, we can always just go by. I also work with the Medicine and Research Department, which is responsible for the drafting of product information texts. Those are, for example, package leaflets for drugs. Additionally, we have to do with Marketing to establish a regulatory strategy and with International Division, as the international marketing authorisations are often based on the regulatory status in Germany.

Overall you'll be spending six months at BERLIN-CHEMIE. Will you change departments again during this time?

No, I'll stay at the same department. But there are two-hour events at BERLIN-CHEMIE for pharmacy interns during which we visit other departments and thus get to know the most important ones. We for example have already visited Quality Control. In addition, I've also received tips from my supervisor on which colleagues I can talk to during my internship to get to know other departments.

How quickly were you able to really start working at the department?

It went pretty fast. The first two days my colleagues explained things to me, on the third day I learnt how the authority is notified and then I had my own tasks on the table. Of course, my supervisor goes over my work at the end, but I learnt a lot by just being able to try things myself.

How did you actually experience the shift from theory in your studies to practice at BERLIN-CHEMIE?

At the beginning it was definitely specific and didn't have much to do with what I'd learnt at the university. Everyone talks in abbreviations and it was all just Greek to me. But after a few days, I slowly began to understand what the abbreviations mean. During my studies, I couldn't even imagine what a pharmaceutical company does in detail. I thought that the company produces and controls drugs and then brings them to market. But I couldn't even picture how much really stands behind this and how many departments there are. In general, the daily routine is varied and demanding. That's why it's never really possible to not make any mistakes. Which initially isn't really bad thing. That's why I always discuss my work with my supervisor. We double-check our work so that everything we submit to the authorities is free from errors.

Who do you ask questions when you don't know how to proceed?

Usually I ask my supervisor. She sits across from me and can be addressed at any time. And when she is in a meeting, I can go to the next office and everyone takes time out to help. There is always somebody available.

Eun-Young Lee , Pharmacist

„I was warmly welcomed and got on really well with my colleagues“


Ms. Lee, you had already got to know the company before you started working permanently at BERLIN-CHEMIE. How did you do this?

I did an internship here as a pharmacy intern for six months. That was – let me think – in May 2010. Exactly. Back then I was working at Clinical Trial Supply at the Research and Development Division.

What did you do at Clinical Trial Supply?

Clinical samples are preparations intended for clinical studies. Generally, for clinical trials, you need the preparation with the active substance and a placebo. At the department where I was, these clinical samples were prepared. Among other things, I helped pack everything up so that ultimately nobody knew if they got a placebo or preparation with the active substance.

You also worked at a pharmacy for six months, right?

Exactly. As a pharmacist, you have to do a one-year internship after your studies. Half of the year must be spent in the pharmacy. The other half you can spend either at a pharmaceutical company or in a hospital pharmacy, for example. I decided back then to work in the pharmaceutical industry for six months.

And how did you become aware of BERLIN-CHEMIE?

I had already heard the name BERLIN-CHEMIE and then towards the end of my studies, when you start to contemplate doing an internship, I looked again specifically. There was more than one position advertised at BERLIN-CHEMIE, and the one at Clinical Trial Supply interested me the most.

How did it then proceed with you and BERLIN-CHEMIE?

After the internship, I still had to complete the third state licensing examination. That means, I studied for about a half a year first, then took the exam and then applied for a couple of positions, one of which was at BERLIN-CHEMIE. But not for my current position. First I worked for more than a year at Quality Control in the area of documentation and then I applied for my current position.

How fast did you adapt to the working routine after your studies?

I'd have to say that it took about six months until I really could work independently. Of course, I already contributed before that, but often had questions.

And with the colleagues?

With the colleagues it went much faster. I received a warm welcome and got along very well with my colleagues. But the fact that I already knew the company also helped immensely. I was indeed in a completely different department, but I already knew a couple of colleagues and how things at the company work.

You said that you switched positions again. At which department do you work now?

I'm still at Quality Control, but now work in the area of contract analysis.

Contract analysis? Does this have something to do with analysing contracts?

No. (laughs) That means that I work specifically with third-party goods. These are products that BERLIN-CHEMIE does not produce and release itself, but only takes on the distribution for BERLIN-CHEMIE. That's why we don't have to do any analytical tests. The products we receive however we do control once more conclusively.

How does this work?

In my case, the drugs from the respective companies have already been released for market. We remove three retained samples from every product batch and store these at our company in case of an inquiry from consumers later on, for example, when something with the product is not right. Additionally, I receive the Certificates of Analysis with which the manufacturer certifies that nothing is amiss with the products and I check these.

In which case would you not release goods you have checked?

If for example something is not right with the documents. My colleagues inspect the samples and I receive their documentation and check if the information on the package agrees with that on the certificates. It may so happen that the manufacturer has made a mistake in the Certificates of Analysis. That's why I check everything again and, if necessary, request new certificates.

What helped you to get your bearings in the new area at Quality Control?

I was trained well by a colleague who did the job before me. He explained everything to me from the very beginning. Generally, training on general workflows at Quality Control or third-party continuing education is also provided. For example, I attended a continuing education course on the entire distribution process. I learnt quite a bit there.

Are there things about your work that you would like to change?

At the moment, I have been working in this area for about eight months and have noticed processes that are really no longer optimal. For many different reasons. Thus, I sat down with all those involved and discussed with them what we could change. I made suggestions and the group discussed if they were feasible. Several things were then adjusted – but there is probably still more to come. I think it's very exciting to see that I can change things and immediately see if they do or don't work.

How open were your colleagues to your suggestions?

They were very open because they had also noticed that things were not running smoothly. For example. sometimes we had a situation where we were searching for some documents because it wasn't really clear who the right contact person was. There were discussions about how we change things. But overall there was no issue. Everyone gladly participated.

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