Take Ten with Team HPNE: Meet Emily Kennedy

Meet Technical Product Manager Emily Kennedy, one of our newest members of #TeamHPNE, and learn more about her journey from process development roles to sales, and her experience in the biopharma industry.

Previously you were a process development (PD) scientist. Tell me about the journey from that to your current sales role at HPNE?

I started off my career as a bench PD scientist, and had the privilege of taking a late stage clinical drug through a successful commercial launch. I worked with many sales reps to evaluate processing technologies that would work in my small scale lab but also in our larger GMP suites. Evaluating and presenting the new technologies, while working very closely with the various reps was my “aha” moment… I could do this too! I worked on the same molecule for seven years and the idea of seeing other processes was exciting to me. I took my fist sales job as a Single Use Specialist and never thought I would enjoy work so much!

After three years I matriculated into an Account Manager and represented an entire BioProcess “vial to vial” portfolio. I realized I loved being a product specialist, and the HPNE opportunity was a great way to leverage the parts I loved most about being a specialist and an Account Manager.

What inspired you to move from science and research focused roles early on in your career to a sales position? Did you find the skills you gained from your early experience have been helpful in sales?

As I mentioned, although I enjoyed the scientific work, I realized that my interest lay more in the technologies I was using to conduct the work than the bench work itself. I also enjoy connecting with people, and wanted to work in a role where I could form meaningful relationships with others on a consistent basis.

My experience early in my career is a benefit for me in a technical sales role. I have practical experience with many of the technologies I represent, and I have a strong understanding of how my products improve processes.

As a new member of the #TeamHPNE sales team, what were your first impressions of our HPNE products and the company culture?

From the start, I was impressed with how quickly HPNE can implement change. We can onboard new components to align to what the customer wants, which makes everyone's lives easier and produces optimal solutions. Great examples of this include their ability to produce Custom Fabricated Components and OEM Custom Solutions.

As for the culture, I came from a large organization, so moving to a mid-size company has been great for me. The size of HPNE allows me to meet more of my colleagues from different departments and form closer relationships with them, and ultimately work more efficiently.

Could you describe what an average work day looks like for you, especially as a mainly remote employee?

On my work from home days it is a mix between responding to e-mails, internal meetings and projects, catching up on industry events and prepping for customer visits.

On field days I like to give myself a 2 hour buffer before visits. This gives me time to navigate traffic and parking without risking being late. I actually practice a lot in my car and play out different scenarios on how the meeting might go. I usually get a new idea or two on the drive so getting to my parking spot early gives me time to re-do my notes or call a team member if needed. Field days are never the same, never predictable and they fly by, which keeps it fun!

Is there any piece of advice or lessons you have already taken away from members of the HPNE sales team that have been impactful for you?

One of the biggest takeaways I have after working with the sales team at HPNE is that we are committed to coming up with creative solutions to solve any customer problem.

The team designs innovative, custom solutions for our customers. This is a result of the innovation I see from all departments at HPNE, the years of experience at the company in the industry, and our wide range of resources, including brand agnostic designs on our HPConnexx Single-Use Assemblies.

As someone who has been in the industry for a while, have there been any major shifts in industry trends that you have noticed in the past few years?

Generally, it seems like the biggest change is that everything is getting smaller. Customers are always looking for everything from smaller tubing to smaller sensors. This points to the overall shift in interest towards cell & gene therapy and mRNA, as they usually require small equipment.

My other observation is that process speed has increased across the industry, and new solutions can be developed quicker.

In November, you were able to attend the Women in CGT event we hosted with CGT Circle. Did you have any major takeaways from the event?

There was one main question from the panel speaker session that stuck with me “what is the best advice you didn’t take?”

I only ever heard someone ask what the best advice they did take, so it was interesting to reframe it this way. I remember an experience where I was offered an opportunity to do a side project outside of my commercial role. I know these opportunities don’t come around often and can be viewed as negative if you don’t take them – but too much of the opportunity was ambiguous, and it just didn’t feel right. I (nervously) passed on that opportunity and a few months later landed a side project that aligned with my professional goals. If I hadn’t said no to the first offer, I would not have had the availability to go for the second one. That experience opened so many new doors for me.

What is something you are the most passionate about outside of work?

Outside of work, I love spending quality time with my kids, especially having fun outdoors. I am constantly trying to push their boundaries with new and challenging activities like skiing, biking, and paddleboarding. It’s a lot of work at these ages (2 + 5), but when they figure it out it is incredible to watch their confidence grow!

What was your dream job as a kid? Is it similar at all to what you are doing now?

My dream job as a kid was to be a veterinarian. I think every child loves animals, and I was no exception. As a kid, I remember learning my multiplication tables and asking my teacher if I needed to learn them to be a vet!

I could never see that career path for myself now, and I don’t think there is much in common between my current role and that dream job. If you really want to stretch for a connection, you could argue that in both jobs my goal is to fix something - except instead of animals, I am working to optimize processes!

What is your dream travel location? Why?

I would love to travel to Switzerland with my family. We are really into XC skiing, and I think it would be amazing to go on a skiing trip there with the endless trails and dramatic back drops!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is thinking about entering a sales role in pharma, what would it be?

To be successful in this space you have to be genuine and believe in the products you represent. Our customers are highly intelligent and pick up on when you are unsure of what you stand behind.

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About HPNE

As the industry needs grow, High Purity New England, Inc. continues to supply the biopharmaceutical industry with a range of innovative products, from drug discovery and development to fill-finish, including their flagship product, custom single-use assemblies, as well as pumps, sensors, bioreactor systems, storage and handling solutions and other single-use solutions. Along with their own manufactured products for the global market, they are also a distributor for more than 18 brands in North America.

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