Career spotlight: technical support scientist
Takara Bio is an innovative and growing company, and we are proud of our friendly corporate culture in which creativity, teamwork, and intellectual diligence are recognized and rewarded. Our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction shows in everything we do, and this is how we attract top talent to our world-class team.
Through our series of blogs highlighting people who have found careers at Takara Bio, we hope to show you what it's like to be a team member contributing to the advancement of "good science." We perform and enable good science, and this mission to provide top-quality products and services informs everything we do.
Here, we've interviewed Ian Oglesby, a technical support scientist (TSS), about his career path and how he landed at Takara Bio. Our technical support team fields questions from researchers at all stages, from exploring what products to use for their experiments, explaining the protocols and applications recommended for our products, troubleshooting unexpected behaviors, to assisting in the interpretation of result data. Technical support scientists like Ian know what it's like to do bench work and the types of issues most relevant to researchers. Let's hear more about his job.
What is your training background and how did you become a TSS?
My graduate degree is in Molecular Biology, but I spent most of my post-grad school research career as a neuropharmacologist. I had always thought that I would be a college bio professor, like my parents, but I realized in grad school that I did not like academic research. For me, industry was the way to go. I found my research in biotech and pharma very satisfying, but after 15 years, I felt like I needed a change. I was interested in Takara Bio's technical support team because I was looking to get off the bench and do something else in science. It turns out, being a TSS is a lot like like being a teacher.
What made you interested in your current role at TBUSA?
I wanted to be involved in science without getting my hands dirty.
What do you enjoy about your role?
I love being involved in science at all levels and across multiple disciplines. Here, I can interact with scientists from all over the world and learn so much about what they are doing. It is much more exciting than just focusing on one’s own research. Certainly, I feel that I've learned more science in my role as a TSS than I did as a student or researcher.
I also get to interact with our own R&D team. Takara Bio has several products that were suggested or developed by me. I’m even an inventor on our patent for rRNA depletion, a technology used in many of our NGS kits. It's also great being able to go home without worrying about what I am tracking in from the lab on my shoes.
What kinds of interactions do you have with customers, and how do you help them solve their research challenges?
Product problems are quite rare. The vast majority of customer interactions are: “Will this work?” and “How does this product work?” We receive many requests for protocol clarifications; all of these are pretty straightforward. Troubleshooting is more complicated, as most cases are unique.
There is a lot of satisfaction in helping get something to work for a customer.
What is it like interacting with your team? What other teams do you interact with, and why?
Our team is a tightly knit group of strong, opinionated scientists. We average a PhD and more than 15 years of post-grad experience. We constantly interact to help each other address customer questions.
We also work with tech writers as we edit product literature, product managers and R&D to give customer feedback on our products and information for customers, sales and customer service to help address customer questions in those areas, and QA/QC in the case of a problem.
In addition, the facilities manager likes having me around since I am tall enough to change the batteries in the wall clocks without using a ladder.
What do you think sets Takara Bio products and services apart from other companies?
We are an R&D-driven company that makes outstanding products. Providing high-quality support for customers is paramount in having them succeed. Having R&D in the same building means that I can just walk down the hall to ask a question or make a product suggestion.
What do you like about our company culture and working/living in this area?
TBUSA has a very collaborative culture. We share the goal of making great products that help scientists advance science.
As for the area, Silicon Valley is an exciting area to work in (though having two self-driving car startups on the block makes driving in the parking lots rather interesting). Culturally, it gives the diversity of a big city (and great food). The weather is great with very few days of the year where being outside is unpleasant.
Thank you for showing us what it's like to be a TSS at TBUSA, Ian. Now, about our wall clocks...
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