Stories of Women in Engineering – Jana Lejaeghere
Adding quality to life
Quality Assurance in commissioning and qualification
Jana studied pharmaceutical sciences at the university of Antwerp. Rather than working in a pharmacy, she opted for industry. Her first position was at ALTEN, where she was hired just after graduating. “As a consultant for ALTEN,” says Jana, “I do quality assurance. I’m there to vouch for the patient’s life and trust.” Jana is currently working on an innovative treatment for a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love the variety in my jobs. I have always requested jobs at ALTEN with a lot of variety and I love the fact that I have always been given a good variety of projects. I have contacts with chemical or microbiology labs, or with project engineers who work as subject matter experts. I’m able to work with every kind of person in a big pharmaceutical company, and that’s the thing I love most.
Does your work inspire you to become a better person and professional?
That’s a difficult question. Because of the products we’re working on and the patients we’re working for, I’ve had the chance to work on very rare diseases, like a growth hormone, vaccines, or cancer treatments. You really feel the connection to the patients, even though you’re never in direct contact with them. You know that you’re working for a purpose: to help people and save lives. That’s what helps you get through the day and what makes your job feel important.
The project I’m working on right now – a treatment for multiple myeloma – involves a really interesting process. We take the patient’s blood and then we reprogram the white blood cells to attack cancer cells instead of other things. So basically, we build a patient’s own defense system against cancer, which is amazing. The technology is very advanced and is potentially also a way to treat many other cancers. And we’re putting that out in the world right now. That’s amazing!
What are the personal and professional values that you find critical in your job?
I’m ambitious, but I like to keep work-life balance as well – I think everyone does nowadays. I like the path forward that is available to me at ALTEN. My business manager always asks me what I want, what my preferences are, and he takes my views into account – they guide me in the right direction and help me to get there. I love the fact that my values are achievable at ALTEN and that we can make our values meet. Their strategy is to keep consultants happy, to give them interesting projects, and I’m always happy to support the new and interesting projects they offer me.
What challenges you most in your work?
Deadlines are the most challenging because of the type of projects I work on. Our clients want to help their patients and they want to do this quickly – vaccines are a typical example – so they create very tight deadlines. This makes it nearly impossible to do the process as it should be done. That’s where we come in with quality assurance. We’re there to protect the process and to make sure that there are no loopholes, no shortcuts taken, which can impact the patient or the quality of the product. That is what makes our job very interesting: it’s not black and white, we’re in the grey area and we need to ask: How can we make this feasible without impacting quality?
What does Creating Tomorrow’s World Today mean to you?
I spoke about the project I am working on to find a cure for multiple myeloma and possibly other cancers that until now were not curable. I think this is the best way to make tomorrow better. We’re healing people that were terminal only yesterday. So yes, we’re creating a better future.
What sets ALTEN apart as an employer?
The big difference at ALTEN is that you are not a number. They know your name, they know who you are, they know your interests. And if your interests change, they just say, okay, you’re growing. I always feel like I bring value to the company and that my interests in a project or a job are important. I think that’s something that is rare in consulting.
Women at the heart of technological transformation
ALTEN’s women and men are the driving force behind our business. Our Group’s ability to develop and promote the best talent available is fundamental in enabling us to meet our customers’ needs. Over past years, we have made concerted efforts to counter certain widely held stereotypes and misconceptions in order to encourage engineering vocations among young women. This collection of profiles, Stories of Women in Engineering, is aimed at just that.
“ALTEN is committed to motivating women to join the technical and scientific fields. We hope these Stories of Women in Engineering will contribute to a growing awareness of the vital role women play in science and technology, as innovators, as experts and as colleagues.” Simon Azoulay, Chair and CEO.
Come along their journeys building tomorrow’s world.